sunsetIt’s just about that time again…the time every year when Intuit discontinues supporting an older version of QuickBooks. This is called “sunsetting” a version.

As usual, it’s the version from 3 years back. So QuickBooks Pro 2010, QuickBooks Premier 2010, QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 10, and QuickBooks for Mac 2010 will all be unsupported by Intuit after May 31 of this year.

That means that you won’t be able to get tech support from Intuit for these products. (You can still get database repair, Enterprise downgrade, or supercondense services through us however, even after the version is sunsetted.)

If you call up Intuit tech support after May 31, they will probably tell you you have to upgrade to a supported version before they can help you.

But a lot of people use QuickBooks without a support plan. Would they be affected? Yes, if they are using Intuit services related to QuickBooks:

* QuickBooks payroll services of any kind
* Intuit merchant services
* Bill payment services
* Online banking
* Email services through Intuit’s servers
* QuickBooks online backup service

Basically, if your copy of QuickBooks 2010 has to reach out to Intuit on the internet to do any of its functions, those functions won’t work anymore after May 31.

Also, if you need to register or re-register your QuickBooks 2010 software, you may not be able to. (See this blog article, however, for tips on a workaround for that.)

Options? Keep using your existing version without accessing the resources above. Or, upgrade to a newer, supported version.

looking towards 2013I’m cautiously optimistic that when Enterprise 13 comes out, it will fix some of the problems that a number of people are finding in Enterprise Series 12. I’ve talked with a number of clients experiencing…

* Problems in inventory: their file will not verify or rebuild
* Problems in sales orders or estimates: they can’t verify the file or make verified backups
* Corruption in the user list: their file fails rebuild
* Failure when they try to condense their file: condense freezes or gives fatal errors

We can repair the vast majority of these files, but it ain’t easy sometimes. Some of these problematic files are 3GB+ or have a kazillion inventory items and/or lots of corrupt assemblies.

Some of the files that clients are sending us to be supercondensed won’t verify and/or rebuild when they are sent in. We have to repair them first to get them healthy enough to work with.

Seems to me that there shouldn’t be this many files with these kinds of problems. We’ve been in the accounting data consulting business for a long time — since the 80s — and have seen and repaired thousands and thousands of sets of damaged accounting data. But it’s been awhile since I’ve seen a version that has clustered so many data integrity issues, many more than we saw under ES 11 or 10. (Actually, old version 6 had a ton of problems too; that was the first version that used the new underlying database system.)

So I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a lucky Enterprise 13, and wishing the best for Intuit’s development and testing teams…

Other consultants and QuickBooks advisors, what do you think? Does ES 12′s stability seem about the same to you as prior versions? Or a bit more problematic?

If you ever need to restore a really old backup of your QuickBooks company, you might be worried about how that will work.

Fortunately, most of the time, the old backups restore without any issues. You just do the “Open or Restore Company” command and restore it just like you would a current backup.

Of course, in lots of cases, the old data was originally created with an old version of QuickBooks – a version you no longer use.

That’s OK most of the time. Whenever you restore a backup in QuickBooks that was originally made with an older version, QuickBooks will automatically update the data to the currently installed version. When the restore process is completed, the update process is completed too, and your data is ready to go.

Sometimes, if the jump between versions is really big (restoring a QuickBooks 99 company under QuickBooks 2012, for example) then there can be restore/update problems. And sometimes there is data corruption (unknown to you) in the old file that would prevent the data from restoring and being updated.

In situations like these, data can be repaired and updated for you.

Here’s a hitch we have heard of: You can’t restore an old backup to a computer running an even older version of QuickBooks. For example, trying to restore a backup made with QuickBooks 2009 on a computer running QuickBooks 2008. That won’t work. QuickBooks can restore backups made from prior versions, but not future versions. In the scenario I described, you’d have to get a copy of QuickBooks 2009 or later to restore a QB 2008 backup.

In most cases, however, old data will restore just exactly as you wish it would.

CAVEAT: One final word of caution when restoring old backups — don’t overwrite your current file. People sometimes do this, not thinking about the implications. If you replace your current file with the old file, then all you’ll have available afterwards is old data. People sometimes call me up and say that their company is now missing a couple years’ of records. Many times, it’s because they restored a two year old backup and that’s all they have available now. Sad! Don’t do that!

We were curious. So we evaluated all of the new members of the QuickBooks Forums so far this year, and tabulated the results by version.

chart of most popular versions of quickbooks
As tabulated by new member data in the QuickBooks Forums

What about editions of QuickBooks? We tabulated the editions that new forum members this year reported using. We limited that to users of 2012, 2011, and 2010 versions. Here’s the breakout:

graph of editions used by quickbooks users
Breakout by edition for users of 2012, 2011, and 2010 versions

“Other” includes Mac, EasyStart, and Plus versions.

Interestingly (to us, anyway), the proportion of Enterprise users to the overall share was much higher for 2012 version users than 2011 or 2010 users. Does that mean that companies that can afford the software and support costs associated with Enterprise can also afford to upgrade to the latest version every year? Perhaps.

Along that same line, the proportion of users using the Pro edition, 2010 version, is much higher than the comparable proportion using the 2011 or 2012 versions. Perhaps there is a greater cost sensitivity, and therefore a lower tendency to upgrade every year, with small business users of the Pro version.

What do you think? Would most Enterprise users upgrade every year as a general practice?

ice cream conesQuickBooks comes in lots of flavors. That’s a good thing.

I remember as a kid growing up in Houston going to the Baskin Robbins store on Memorial Drive. 31 flavors! Mint Chocolate Chip or Rocky Road…hmmmm…

QuickBooks users make choices too.

The hot choice these days, at least from Intuit’s point of view, is QuickBooks Online. I just read an article interview with Intuit’s CFO that said that QuickBooks Online is growing at 30% per year and accounts for two-thirds of sales.

That edition’s advantages? There are several. You never have to worry about updating your software or data. You don’t have to worry about local network IT, as far as QuickBooks is concerned. Your team can access the books from any office, anywhere.

The most popular choice in the desktop editions? QuickBooks Pro. It has all the general accounting functionality that most small businesses need, and has a ton of optional add-in offerings that extend its usefulness even further. It’s affordable ($154.96 on Amazon as of today). Main drawback? As of the 2011 version, you can only have three licenses on a network. That means only three simultaneous users.

Next flavor? Premier edition. This actually comes in a number of sub-flavors according to the type of business you have: Contractors, NonProfit, Manufacturing and Wholesale, Professional Services, Retail and Accountant versions. The Contractors and Manufacturers versions are especially popular. You can have up to five licenses on a network with the Premier edition, and you can buy 3-bundle licenses.

The heaviest lifting is done by the Enterprise edition. There are subflavors here as well that are industry-specific. Intuit has tuned this edition to perform under heavy user loads. I spoke with a user yesterday who had 25 Enterprise users on their network. (And that sometimes can bog down if the data file is very large. That’s why we supercondense a lot of large files for Enterprise users these days.)

Enterprise also is the only QuickBooks edition that has advanced inventory functions. It is the only edition except for 2012 Premier Accountants edition that can have more than one company open at a time. But mostly, it’s about IT performance for businesses with high transaction volume or heavy-duty inventory.

The various editions of QuickBooks mix and mingle within limits. You can upgrade your QuickBooks file to a higher edition whenever you want. That is, a Pro file will convert to Premier no problem. Either of these will convert to Enterprise. Any of those will convert to QuickBooks Online.

There is a 140MB size limit for converting from any of the desktop editions to QuickBooks Online, however. We often see files from people whose file size exceeds that, and we remove old years’ data to get the file small enough to convert to QuickBooks Online. (This is another application of our supercondense service.)

Data can be downgraded from Enterprise to Pro or Premier, but only with special conversion services.

Within the same edition, older version company files will automatically upgrade to newer versions whenever you open the company in the newer version. The opposite is not true, however: Newer version data cannot be converted to older versions (QuickBooks Pro 2011 cannot be converted to QuickBooks Pro 2010, for example).

You’ve also got the Mac version of QuickBooks. It kind of lives alone in the QuickBooks universe.

Anyway, you don’t have 31 flavors to pick from, but you do have several.

sunset photoSunsets are wonderful, beautiful things, unless you’re talking about a software sunset — a planned discontinuance of support for an older version of your software. That can be frustrating in certain situations. Here’s a story of a QuickBooks user who found a way around that.

But first, a bit of background. As of now, QuickBooks Windows and Mac versions for 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009 are fully supported by Intuit. Prior versions are not. The 2008 version was “sunsetted” by Intuit in May of 2011. This is in accordance with their policy of supporting the current and prior two versions of QuickBooks (which in my opinion makes perfectly good sense, but that’s another subject).

From a user’s point of view, the sunset policy matters only if your software requires ongoing support by Intuit. But support means lots of different things in QuickBooks these days — not just payroll subscriptions, but online banking, credit card processing, online backups and, of course, telephone support.

If you don’t need any of that? You can keep using your old version just fine.

But what if you need to install and register your old version of QuickBooks on a new computer, and you don’t have your original install codes written down anywhere?
Intuit support won’t give them to you, because you are using an unsupported version.

In another blog post that describes how to move your QuickBooks installation from one computer to another, a user described how he was stymied. He had been using a 2007 version of QuickBooks and didn’t have his registration codes. So he couldn’t install the software on his new computer.

But…he figured it out! Since he still had access to his old computer, he found that he could pull his license number and product number from his existing installation and use that on his new computer. He gives the step by step instructions in his blog comment.

If you don’t have your original install CD, you’re still in business, because you can download old versions from Intuit’s website (at least as of today) from here.

It’s always possible, of course, that there will be a hitch in that registration process and the software will force you to call Intuit, in which case you’re out of luck. Likewise, you’re messed up if you don’t have your install codes written down AND you cannot access your original QuickBooks installation (if your hard drive totally failed, for example). But otherwise, you have a good chance of getting your old software up and running on new equipment.

That was one user’s experience, anyway.

QuickBooks 2008 discontinued, unsupported, sunsetServices supporting QuickBooks Pro and Premier 2008, and Enterprise 8, were discontinued on May 31. It is Intuit’s policy to only support the current and prior two versions of their accounting products, and the end of May has been their cut off point for the last few years.

What is affected?

QuickBooks Payroll Services
For Assisted, Basic, Standard, and Enhanced Payroll, QuickBooks will no longer automatically calculate correct payroll taxes or provide payroll forms. Assisted Payroll will no longer send your payroll data.

Credit Card Processing
Merchant Service customers will no longer be able to process credit card transactions through QuickBooks, or download credit card transactions into QuickBooks if you use a terminal. Automatic credit card service will be discontinued.

Bill Pay
You will get an error and not be able to connect to your financial institution to pay bills.

Online Banking
You will get an error when trying to send online payments, download transactions, or conduct online transfers.

QuickBooks Email
You can no longer use the QuickBooks Email service to email sales receipts, purchase orders, etc. directly from QuickBooks. You CAN continue to email documents and reports out of QuickBooks by using Outlook, Outlook Express, or Windows Mail accounts, or by printing to PDF files and attaching those to emails outside of QuickBooks.

It would seem that the general pattern here is that QuickBooks 2008 will no longer be able to interface with much of anything in the outside world (through the internet).

If you are using QuickBooks 2008 with services that are now unavailable, the obvious, fast solution is to get a more current, supported version. Buying it new from Amazon seems to often be less expensive than getting an upgrade. The software is downloadable, so you don’t have to wait for delivery of a CD.

It is usually a painless experience to upgrade your company file from an older version to a newer version. You just open the company under the new version. But if your QuickBooks 2008 file will not verify, it won’t upgrade either, and the file may need to be repaired first, before it can be upgraded.

As far as I know, no company that makes accounting software supports old versions forever. It would be too expensive and would take technical resources away from development teams trying to make the product better for the future.

My company, AccountingUsers, Inc., will still continue to support QuickBooks 2008 and Enterprise 8 as far as troubleshooting data issues goes.

But for keeping Intuit services connected with QuickBooks 2008, the sun has already gone down.