Large QuickBooks FileI’m talking to people every day who are concerned about the size of their QuickBooks company data file. (Press F2 in QuickBooks to see how big your file is).

Some people are concerned because their file is bigger than they expect, or bigger than any other data file they work with, and that makes them nervous about possible future problems.

Others are concerned because their big file has made QuickBooks slow to use.

Others are unhappy with their file because it is becoming unstable — crashing or freezing up a lot.

Sometimes users are told by others that their file is too big. Word is going around that 150MB is the maximum usable size for QuickBooks Pro or QuickBooks Premier files. (That’s not really so. There are lots of people we talk to who have files bigger than that who are operating QuickBooks without any problems at all).

Here are some examples of file sizes we’ve heard of in the last couple of weeks:

1GB. Enterprise 11, slow performance
340MB. Pro 2011, slow performance
1.2GB. Enterprise 9, instability
400MB. Pro 2010, slow performance
1.4GB. Enterprise 10, slow performance
3.4GB. Enterprise 11, slow performance
750MB. Pro 2011, slow performance

All of these are great candidates for supercondensing, where we remove old closed transactions from the file, reducing file size by as much as 80%.

Sometimes, if the accounting is all messed up as well as the file’s being big, it’s better to just create a new company file in QuickBooks, pull in current names, plug in beginning balances, and go forward that way.

Anybody have a data file over 3.5GB? That’s about as big as we are seeing these days.

What’s this? A humble old aluminum percolator coffee pot. Nothing special.

Oh, but it is.

You see, Bob Martin used this percolator when he went camping, in preparation for his mountaineering expeditions. When he passed away in 2008, he had climbed every mountain in Colorado that stands over 11,000 feet. That’s over 2,000 mountains. Add 2,000+ peaks in Arizona. Over 5,000 peaks worldwide. Wow. I remember reading an article about him in the Denver Post a few years ago, that he had climbed more Colorado mountains than anybody, save one other mountaineer.

Bob Martin used to be my neighbor, and I have his old coffee pot. I bought it at a garage sale at his house. I think I paid 25 cents for it.

When my family and I go camping in the mountains, or I go backpacking with my fishing buddy up to high alpine lakes, I take the old percolator with me. I like to think that it gives me a little of Martin’s old mountain mojo, but in reality it just makes a good pot of coarse-ground morning coffee under the firs and pines.

I guess I’m sentimental, but I think about the hundreds of pots of coffee Bob made in preparation for climbing another mountain. Made in the old percolator. In my mind’s eye I see him pouring a cup, and then studying a topo map spread over his camp table, planning his climbing route for the day.

I actually did go climbing with him once, at his invitation — a neighborly gesture. We climbed an unnamed 11’er in Pitkin county. But that’s another story.

“If these walls could talk”…sure. What about a coffee pot? I wish it could tell me a few stories about adventures above treeline in the mountain West.

Autumn is typically the time that accounting software users evaluate their software and make plans for the immediate future.

In our experience, some of the factors affecting accounting software decisions include initial purchase cost, ongoing maintenance and support costs, software compatibility and integration issues, functionality, conversion costs, and learning curve.

What are QuickBooks users planning to do with their software in the upcoming months?

Our survey shows this:

50% – Stay the course with the version of QuickBooks they use now
29% – Upgrade to the 2012 version of QuickBooks
16% – Convert to some other software
3% – Upgrade from Pro or Premier to Enterprise Series
2% – Downgrade from Enterprise to Pro or Premier

What is driving your decisions about accounting software for the next six months?

Thinking about moving from a QuickBooks desktop edition to the QuickBooks Online Edition? Check your file size.

There is a limit on the size of files that can be successfully uploaded/converted to QuickBooks Online. That limit is 140MB. This file size limitation refers to the size of the exportable file that QuickBooks creates in preparation for QB Online. It is roughly the same size as your QBW file, but will be a little different.

To see if you are above or below the limit, go to File>Utilities>Copy Company File for QuickBooks Online. The file may take several minutes to create. The file will have your same company name, but will have an .OE extension.

If the resulting file is under 140MB, you’re good to go, as far as having a file that could be converted to the online edition.

If your file is bigger than 140MB, then it can’t be converted as is. You could have old information in your file removed so that the resulting file is under the 140MB threshold, or you could create a new company in QuickBooks, and export/import your lists into the new company, and upload a small file that way.

Anyone want to report their experience in converting a desktop QuickBooks file to the Online edition?

Intuit has pulled the R8 update to QuickBooks 2011 and Enterprise 11 and their website acknowledges problems with it:

* Error 1603 when installing the update
* QuickBooks won’t open or stops working
* Inventory quantities are inaccurate after updating from QuickBooks 2010 to 2011
* Rebuild command fails (even when data integrity is OK)

The above link on Intuit’s site has workarounds for all but the last of these reported problems. Some of the workarounds, however, involve uninstalling and reinstalling the QuickBooks software, which is not much fun.

The R8 update is not currently included in the auto update protocol, so you don’t have to worry about being updated in that way.

Intuit says they will update their site when a new release is available (R9, presumably).

We will help pass the word along when that happens.

What is the essential benefit of using QuickBooks versus keeping the books by hand? Saving time and errors, right? You could manually do almost anything QuickBooks can do, but QuickBooks makes you much more efficient.

Well, within QuickBooks there is a way to manage and control your bookkeeping and accounting tasks, making you even more efficient. It is called “preferences”, and you access them through the file menu: Edit / Preferences

Preferences are all about customizing the look, structure, and defaults that QuickBooks uses when you do your bookkeeping.

Some preferences can be customized at the user level. For example, you may want to have your QuickBooks desktop look different — display different icons and functions — than the desktops of other QuickBooks users in your office. That is easily done.

But many preferences apply to a whole set of company data, and only the admin user for the file can set those up or make changes to them.

For example, the Accounting preference is all done at the company level (you don’t want different people making different decisions about how QuickBooks handles its accounting!)

Here’s what the accounting preference screen looks like in QuickBooks Pro 2011:

quickbooks preferences

Some of the preferences, like the Payments company preference, let you connect your QuickBooks company with optional Intuit services like Intuit Payment Solutions.

Which preferences in QuickBooks are especially helpful to you?

If you want to learn more about the power of preferences in QuickBooks, there is an online training seminar coming up on September 22 devoted to the topic:

Here are the top five most-viewed topics on the QuickBooks Forums over the last two weeks, each being viewed hundreds of times:

1. Print Your Own Deposit Slip. This topic was posted originally in 2009 and has been well-viewed ever since. People spend over three minutes on this page, on average.

2. How to calculate commission. This topic was originally posted in 2005 and has been responded to periodically since. People also spend 3+ minutes on this page on average.

3. Customer Prepayments/Deposits. This topic was originally posted in the QuickBooks FAQ section by Lisa Peterson, one of our forum moderators. It has had Q&A replies ever since, and people spend almost 7 minutes on this page, on average.

4. Error: “3371 QuickBooks could not load the license data.” This topic was originally posted in 2007, and I’m a bit surprised that it still gets so many views — I would have thought that this issue would have been resolved in later releases of QuickBooks. Over 4 minutes view time per visitor on average.

5. Cash Basis in Account receivable. Another venerable QuickBooks FAQ thread posted a long time ago, with Q&A ever since. Originally posted by one of our forum heroes, Joe Williams, a retired QuickBooks senior support rep. is offering free access to upcoming live QuickBooks training webinars to staff at schools and colleges.

AccountingUsers, Inc. (dba is launching Community Connect, a corporate citizenship initiative. September is back-to-school month, so educational institutions will be the focus.

School administrators and staff, school district treasurers and bookkeepers can attend these online training events for free. Several Community Connect seats have been reserved for each of these live training webinars:

September 8 — Job Costing Essentials in QuickBooks

September 15 — How to Create and Setup a QuickBooks Company Correctly

September 22 — Using Preferences to Reduce Time and Errors in QuickBooks

September 29 — How to Set Up and Use Accounts Receivable in QuickBooks

Click the links above for details and registration.

There are some things in life you just don’t want to go without: Seatbelts in a car. A batting helmet when you’re playing baseball. Sunscreen when you’re outside all day (well, at least for a fair-skinned chap like me!)

Same with your business computer. There are just some things you’d better have:

1. Battery backup. This is such a no-brainer. During thunderstorm season, the power in your office can go off for an hour, or a millisecond. Either way, it’s bad for your computer.

It could affect QuickBooks, or an Excel spreadsheet, or any program you’re running. If the flow of power changes, the data on your computer is likely to change too. You don’t want your data changing in random ways. (This is one common cause of QuickBooks data damage).

Good news: Battery backups, also known as uninterruptible power supplies, are widely available and inexpensive. I like APC battery backups these days, mostly because they come with software that will automatically turn off your computer after a specified number of minutes in the event of power failure. That way, it won’t use up all your backup’s battery reserve in just one incident, if you’ve gone to lunch when the power goes down.

2. Internet security software. If your computer is connected to the internet, you’ve simply got to have current security software in place. This is true even if you rarely browse the internet. The number of online threats “out there” has been rising for years, with no end in sight.

Getting online without having current security software in place is like sending your grandmother out for a walk by herself in a bad neighborhood in the middle of the night. No.

You should at least have basic (free) protection like AVG. Better yet is a more comprehensive protection package, like Norton 360.

3. Online backup service. Your computer’s hard drive is a machine, and all machines fail sooner or later. So it is wise to have something in place now for when that failure will happen. It’s not a matter of if it will fail; it’s simply a matter of when it will fail.

I talk to people all the time with nonexistent of inadequate backup systems. Sad, and unnecessary.

It used to be that a good backup system required either a very conscientious user or some sophisticated in-house IT. This is no longer true.

These days, services like IDriveGlobal DataVault, SOS Online Backup and others make it quite easy for regular, non-technical users to be well protected in case of IT disasters.

Backups “in the cloud” have a couple of advantages over local hardware backups (meaning tape backups, external hard drives, flash drives, etc.) One advantage is that you don’t have to manually maintain or rotate those drives. Online backup services do the maintenance for you and are always available (if you pick a quality service.)

Also, backups in the cloud are unaffected by problems at your location — theft, flood, fire, power surges, etc.

What do you think about my IT short list? Have any of these been a lifesaver at your office?

Posted in IT.