In the last few weeks, we’ve seen a number of data stability issues in QuickBooks 2016 that have surprised us a bit. I don’t know if these issues are happening because of a particular QuickBooks update release, or a Windows update, or something else. Most version 2016 users haven’t had any problems, but from our vantage point in hearing from users who DO have data problems, there has been a definite uptick in database problems specific to version 2016 in the last few weeks.

  • Problems upgrading older versions. In the last few weeks, I have spoken with a number of people whose data has failed the upgrade from an earlier version to version 2016. I started getting more-than-usual calls about this when the 2013 version was sunsetted last month. That’s when many 2013 users were making the jump from version 2013 to version 2016. There are always some people that have trouble upgrading from an older version to the latest version. But there seems to have been more than usual problems with that lately. And the upgrade process itself seemed to trigger the problem; the users I’ve talked to were not having data problems in the older version. With most of the users I have spoken with in this situation, they are having to revert to their pre-upgraded backup (made in the old version) and rekey from there. That’s a bummer if you upgraded your file a month or two ago. In one case I’ve seen, a user had to remain in their 2015 version for now — the data is simply not upgradeable to version 2016 and they have to stick with version 2015.

RELATED: “QuickBooks Data Repair Services — User Reviews”

  • Broken transaction links. We’ve seen an unusual number of these in version 2016 data recently. Payments get disconnected from bills, and the bills are reopened, as one example. The only solution is to restore the last good backup (made before the problem occurred) and rekey to get caught up, or to manually delete and reenter the affected transactions. Sometimes this is happening to people when they upgrade, and sometimes it is happening to people who have been using QuickBooks 2016 for awhile (without problems).
  • Damaged lists. In some cases, jobs get spontaneously reassigned to different customers, transactions get reassigned to different customers or vendors, customer data gets out of sync on the customer center screen. Only solution: Restore last good backup.
  • Account balances corrupted. Again, this seems to happen during the upgrade, and the only recourse as per this writing is to restore the last good backup that was made before the upgrade.

RELATED: How to Transfer a QuickBooks File from an Older to a Newer Version

  • TLG file corrupted. A TLG file is an auxiliary data file that QuickBooks maintains alongside your working QBW file. We can often take a current TLG, apply it to an older backup, and bring the backup up to current condition.  With the data problems listed above, in version 2016 data, we can’t do that. The corruption affects the TLG file too and makes it unusable for our data repair efforts.

We can repair almost all QuickBooks data problems, including — usually — problems that prevent successful upgrading. Hopefully this particular uptick in unfixable 2016 data problems is a temporary blip.

RELATED: I Can’t Backup my QuickBooks File! Help!

Any of these data issues sound familiar? What do you think triggered the problem in your case? How did you resolve it?

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If you have a gigantic QuickBooks data file, the classic approach is to recreate the file and start over. This approach works, but it takes a lot of effort and it opens the door to lots of data entry or importing mistakes.

One alternative, if your version has the built-in Condense command, is to try that command on a copy of your file and see what happens. Sometimes it works great, and sometimes it doesn’t.

RELATED: These are Large QuickBooks Data Files…and What Users Did

If the built-in condense doesn’t give you satisfactory results, you can have your file supercondensed. Some of our clients describe their supercondense experience:

“We are so pleased with our new Supercondensed QuickBooks file and the quick and professional service you provided. Our file was very large and over 20 years old. We were having many problems with the old file and were told by Quickbooks support to re-create the file and start from scratch. This would have required countless hours and days of downtime for our company. Also, we did not want to lose all of the transaction history and wanted to keep 2 years of history for comparison reports. We were thrilled when we found your service. We sent the file on Friday and the new file was here Monday morning. The instructions to upload the new file were very easy to follow and in no time we were using our new file. We highly recommend your service to other companies looking to condense their QuickBooks file. We plan on using this service every 3-5 years from now on. Thank you so much all your help!!!” — Sue Hamby, Motherlove Herbal Company

“Finished product came back just as advertised. Shannon and QuickbooksUsers.com reduced my file size by 70% and got it done and back to me in less time than expected for a weekday turnaround.  All questions were answered promptly and the process was very professional from start to finish.  Would highly recommend QuickbooksUsers.com and will use them again when my file gets too big again.” — John Clouse, Butler Color Press

“No down time. Massive data file repaired and condensed. We are thrilled that we did not have to start a new company file and were able to keep the data years our CPA recommended. Best customer service ever! Did what Intuit and 4 business days of down time could not achieve. These guys get it done!!” — Ann Mahoney, Bates Air Conditioning & Service Co Inc.

“We went with the weekend supercondense. Shannon explained the process up front and the entire project went exactly as planned – sent the file Friday and it was ready for first thing on Monday. Speed is greatly increased and we would definitely do it again.” — Rob Coleman, RCTENN

“We got our data back much smaller and ready to move to QuickBooks online.  So I was very happy.  Most importantly to me, Shannon was extremely responsive which was key for us.” — Cameron Struthers, Allen Print Ltd.

“100% satisfied. Best investment we made in getting our QB data file under control. We were able to get our supercondense done with no downtime. Very happy we used their service.” — Paul Perry, Precision Services

RELATED: Case Study: User with Big, Slow QuickBooks File

Have you evaluated recreating your company, versus condensing, versus supercondensing? What did you decide?

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First, if you’ve been backing up to USB flash drives, you are to be commended for at least getting your data off your computer and onto a separate, removable backup drive. That’s better than keeping EVERY copy of your data on your hard drive alone. (Why? Because, of course, if all your backups are on your hard drive, and that hard drive goes down, you are in trouble!)

But you need to revise your backup strategy at least a little in order to be safer. Why? Because USB drives aren’t super reliable target drives for QuickBooks backups.

I talk to people all the time whose company file gets badly damaged somehow. They think they are OK — “I’ve got a ton of backups on my flash drive!” But when they plug in their flash drive and try to restore these backups, the backups are corrupted and unusable. Or the USB flash drive itself is dead. That makes for a bad day (and a day when people call me for QuickBooks file repair).

It’s better — more reliable — to backup to an external hard drive or a cloud drive.

But regardless of whether you want to have your backup file on a USB flash drive, external hard drive, or the cloud, do this: Backup to your Windows Desktop, then copy the backup file from Desktop to your ultimate backup destination through Windows.

Why do this extra step? Because writing data to your local hard drive (where Desktop lives) is fast and reliable. QuickBooks is designed to read and write data to hard drives very well. Writing data, especially large files, directly from QuickBooks to other kinds of drives, however, can be problematic. I believe that slower write times leads to file writing errors, which leads to restore problems later on.

RELATED: What Kind of Drives Can You Open QuickBooks On?

And if you make your backup initially to Desktop, it’s very easy to find your backup file when you copy it in Windows to your ultimate target drive, whether in the cloud, external HD or USB flash drive.

Bonus tip: If you try to restore a QuickBooks backup from a USB flash drive and the restore fails, try simply copying the backup file from the flash drive to Desktop, then try to restore the file from Desktop. This sometimes works when a restore directly from the flash drive fails.

Let’s face it….USB flash drives are as common as potato chips, and there is hardly anything more convenient than backing up to a USB flash drive and putting it in your pocket. But don’t rely on a USB flash drive as a mission critical piece of technology. And improve your odds by mediating the process through Windows Desktop.

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Some say “Once in Enterprise, always in Enterprise”. But that’s not so! We convert Enterprise files to Pro or Premier all the time. What do our client/users say?

“We were using a hosted version of Enterprise 15 and decided to go back to 2015 Premier desk top. We sent our file on Friday morning and received the converted file back on the following Monday. The file loaded into 2015 Premier with no issues and all information looks complete and correct. QuickbookUsers.com has a simple and effective process. We are thrilled with the results.” — Jim Work, TCB Interiors LLC

 

“Fast and reliable service!” — Julie Bedard, Vie Luxe International

 

“The conversion from Enterprise to Pro went perfectly. I couldn’t be happier with the service!” — Bruce Coates, Cottages By The Sea

 

“Quick, easy, accurate!” — Denise Doak, The Laurel Group

 

“Quickly converted our data and very simple! Thank you!” — John Burghardt, Bizcompass

 

“Service exactly as described with excellent support after the conversion!” — Tim Kessler, CDLM Technology Services

 

“This is the third time we’ve used you for our clients and you’ve done a stellar job each time. I’ve referred you to others in the National Advisor Network (now Woodard Network).” — Jeff Cecchini, QBPros, Inc.

Learn more about our QuickBooks Enterprise Downgrade Service.

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Here are some files that have been sent to us recently. They are pretty big! (You can find out how big your QuickBooks file is by pressing F2 in QuickBooks.) How does your file compare?

Enterprise 14. 5.7GB. File fails verify and needs supercondensing.
Enterprise 13. 1GB, but 61,000 customers. Sluggish.
Enterprise 14. 1.8GB. Repeat customer, file had grown large again after a couple years.
Enterprise 15. 3.2GB. 30,000 items. Footing errors.
Enterprise 11. 8GB. Sluggish.
Enterprise 15. 700MB. Not big, but unstable.
Enterprise 15 Canadian. 750MB. Bloated lists.

Premier 2014 Canadian. 390MB, pushing the 14,500 limit on items.
Premier 2015 Nonprofit. 2GB. Slow in saving transactions and reporting.

Pro 2015 Canadian. 750MB. Too big to migrate to QuickBooks Online.
Pro 2014. 420MB. Sluggish.
Pro 2014. 300MB. Customer and item list bloated.

And the biggest kahuna of them all: QB Pro 2013, 9GB. File fails verify. That’s right, this is a Pro file! This file had over 30 million transaction links in it — the most we’ve ever seen in any QuickBooks file.

RELATED: Interview/Case Study: QuickBooks User with Large File

What did the users do? They sent us the files to be supercondensed and/or repaired. Sometimes rebuilding and condensing files within QuickBooks works. When it doesn’t we can (most of the time) repair and supercondense a file even when the built-in tools in QuickBooks fail.

Is your file’s size of concern? How about list size? How does it perform?

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We frequently hear from people that they can’t backup their QuickBooks file:

* The verification stage of the backup process fails

* The backup command crashes

* Regular backups can be made, but portable files cannot be created

The problem might be media related, but it’s most often caused by data corruption. Here are the DIY fixes:

* Rebuild your company data (File / Utilities / Rebuild Data) and try again. The Rebuild command can often fix things in the file that prevents a verified backup from being created.

* Try backing up to a local hard drive, instead of to a network server, cloud drive, external drive, or USB drive. All those kinds of drives, besides a local hard drive, could possibly have connectivity or speed issues that would prevent a successful backup being made. Try backing up to your Windows Desktop and see what happens.

Still having problems? Then your data is probably corrupted to the point where the Rebuild command can’t fix it. If that is the case, you have three options:

1. Restore your last good backup and go forward from there. That might or might not require a good bit of data rekeying.

2. Get your current, damaged data repaired.

3. Ignore the problem. There are some obvious risks with doing this, but sometimes data can be damaged enough to prevent a verified backup being made, but that otherwise doesn’t cause errors in the operation of QuickBooks. If you choose this option, you can turn off the verification option in the backup command so that you can still make backups. Please note, however, that you are backing up damaged data.

Any other thoughts on this? Any other options or workarounds to consider?

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Thinking about migrating from QuickBooks desktop to QuickBooks Online Edition? What if your file is too big?

There is a way around this obstacle, but first, a little background.

It used to be that if your QuickBooks file was bigger than 200MB, it wouldn’t migrate to QuickBooks Online…too big. You’d get an error when you tried to create the QuickBooks Online export file.

Then the limit changed, and it was a limit on the total number of transactions that your file contained.

As of today’s writing, the limiting factor is on how many “targets” exist within your file. A “target” is basically a line of detail within a transaction. If your file has more than 350,000 targets in it, it’s too big to migrate to QuickBooks Online.

You can find out how many targets your file has by opening your company in QuickBooks and pressing the F2 key.

F2 screen in QuickBooks
F2 screen in QuickBooks

In the screenshot above, the total targets is less than 6,000. This is from a sample set of data, and an actual working set of data — particularly with lots of inventory or jobs transactions — will have a high total targets figure.

So if you have a ton of transaction detail in your file — move than 350K lines — but you want the advantages found in QuickBooks Online Edition, what can you do?

The first thing to try would be the built-in Condense command in QuickBooks. Try it on a copy of your file. If the Condense command is found in your version of QuickBooks, it’ll be in the File / Utilities menu (the command is not in all versions).

Why would you want to run Condense on a copy? Because sometimes the Condense command will freeze and you’ll have to exit QuickBooks abnormally. If that happens, you don’t want it happening on your live data. But when the Condense command works well, it works well, so try it and see what happens.

If the Condense command succeeds, then you can strip out lots of old transaction lines, and possibly bring the file down to the point where you can successfully create the export migration file.

BUT…

If the Condense command doesn’t work, or doesn’t get enough reduction to make the data migration possible, then you could consider getting your file prepared for migration. This is an external process we provide that can reduce your file’s size (and targets) by 50-80%. We remove all but the last 1-7 years of data (your choice), and create the export file (OE.qbw) that is ready to send into QuickBooks Online.

Learn more about the file preparation service here.

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What if you upgraded your QuickBooks Pro or Premier data file to QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions and now need to revert back?

There’s a way for it to be done. Here’s what real users have said:

“We used the downgrade service from QB Enterprise to Premier. It worked flawlessly. We got our company file back in less than 24-hours and couldn’t be happier. Thanks!” — Jonathan, Fresh Start Vitamin Co.

This service WAY surpassed my expectations!!  I received the converted file less than 12 hours after I submitted it for conversion.  WELL worth the money spent.  Also made me look like a hero to the nonprofit company we were helping.  Thank you so much!!” — Heidi Jennings, Watermark CPA Group, Inc.

I really appreciate how fast and easy you made the transition from Enterprise to Pro for me.  Thank You!” — Peter Garza, Scantech Utility Detection Service, Inc.

The process is simple. You order the service and upload your file to us. We convert it and email you a secure download link to retrieve your converted data. The file you get back from us is ready to use in Pro or Premier. The data will be as if it had been created and used in your version of Pro or Premier from the beginning. You don’t have to rekey, recreate, or export/import anything…it’s a turnkey service.

Advantages? Money saved on software and support and no mandatory annual subscription fees.

Have you found yourself in a position of wanting to revert from Enterprise to a lower edition?

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Ever had data corruption in QuickBooks? What did you do?

Since 2001, many QuickBooks users have entrusted their data corruption situations to us and have spoken up about their experience:

“Contacted them on a Saturday, paid for expedited service and had fixed data on Monday AM. Well worth it. Could not have been happier with service.” – M. Broussard, LeaseAll RentAll Inc.

“Shannon was unbelievably quick and very informative, totally responsive to all questions I had regarding our company Balance Sheet not balancing, (Assets not equal to Liab + OE), and were able to repair our QB file database for corrupt historical inventory items and corrupt bills and received file back at 5AM following morning (sent to them at 5.30pm central time prior night) so we didn’t have to re-key any data. It was much cheaper than all the labor to re-enter 2 days, which we would have had to do had we used the repaired file from the manufacturer (2-3 day minimum turnaround on repair file). The manufacturer’s support group did fix our file as part of our service plan but your overnight fix outside of operational time was invaluable to keeping all our transactional data accurate in company file.” – Dave Bryan, SVSi

“Your service was an amazing answer to our QB nightmare of corrupt data. Without any downtime for our business you were able to clean our files and get us back on track!” – Nydia Flores, Tri-Starco, Inc.

“Shannon and the entire team were so helpful! The service was extremely fast and helped to relieve a lot of anxiety about our corrupted file! Thank you so much. Everything is running great.” – Kate Gillespie, The Green Sheet, Inc.

“We had multiple complex problems with our file, but you were able to get it fixed, and now QuickBooks runs better than ever. Thanks.” – James Couperthwaite, Ecol Services Group

“You guys did an incredible job getting our data back up and running in a timely fashion. Thanks for the great work.” – Blake Richardson, Glasshouse

“Services were delivered exactly as advertised. Extremely quick turnaround and above average customer service left us with nothing but positive feedback. Hopefully we never have an issue with our Quickbooks data again, but if we do, QuickbooksUsers.com will be the first call we make.” – Chris Foreacre, Keystone Displays

“You did exactly what you said you would, exactly when you said you would do it. And you went out of your way to explain things easily to a non-techie. I couldn’t ask for more!” – Kerry McCoy, HRxpress

The best thing to do in a data corruption crisis is to restore an uncorrupted current backup. Sometimes, though, that doesn’t work out. At those times, we’re there for you.

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Do you have two different copies of the same company data on your system? Maybe one is an old copy that you use just for historical reporting, and the other is your working day-to-day current file.

There is a potential danger lurking here: You could confuse the two copies and start entering data in the old one instead of the current one. I occasionally get a call from a user who says “All of a sudden, I have a nine month gap in my file — everything from January to September is missing!” This is almost always because they inadvertently started using an old file and putting current information into it. Then they didn’t discover their error until well down the road.

This problem is much easier to prevent than to fix. Basically, you need to make it so that the two copies look quite different from one another, and the old copy is password protected against accidental entry.

So here are the three steps you need to take to prevent confusion.

Let’s say that this is your working, current company file.

 

 

Now, say you have another copy of this company data on your system. And you DO NOT want to make any entries into the copy. You want it to be perfectly clear to your users which is the current working file, and which is a copy that is not to be altered.

So do the following steps on the COPY:

1. Open the COPY of your company and click on Company / My Company. Click the Edit button for Company Information. Change the Contact Name and Address to “DO NOT USE – ARCHIVE” or something of the sort. Save your changes.

2. Click Edit / Preferences / Desktop View. For Company File Color Scheme, change it to Red or some other color that will get your attention, and that is different from your normal color scheme. OK your changes.

It will look like this:

Pretty obviously not the same company, eh? That’s the point.

3. If you really want to lock down the COPY so that no one gets confused and starts entering transactions into it, click Edit / Preferences / Accounting / Company Preferences. In the Closing Date box, click Set Date/Password. Enter a Closing Date that is very far in the future. Then enter a Closing Date Password.

It will look like this.

Click OK.

So what you’ve done here is make it so that in order for a user to enter a transaction in the COPY, they will have to know a special password. Don’t tell anyone what this password is. It is supposed to be unknown, so that no one can make entries to this COPY file.

So between the company name change, the color change, and the transaction lockdown, it should be clear to your user team: this file is not the current working file.

[My thanks to David Warlick, a blog commenter, for the tip on color coding files.]

Do you have any advice to share on avoiding confusion with your QuickBooks files?

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