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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Here’s a road sign in my town.

What does it mean?
What does it mean?

The first time I drove by this sign, I was flummoxed. I knew that it had to do with yielding and pedestrians, but for some reason I just couldn’t take it all in at one time and get the complete message. The “HERE”, the arrow, and “TO” made me think: “Here to…where?”

I felt embarrassed that I was confused by a public road sign. Then I remembered something I had read in a splendid book recently: If you see an object for the public’s use, but don’t understand how to use it, it’s not your fault. It is the product designer’s (in this case, the sign designer’s) fault.

The Design of Everyday Things explores the dos and don’ts of good design, and describes principles that enhance and detract from object usability. It’s fascinating to me.

I’m not a professional designer, but I believe that there are specific flaws in this particular road sign:

  • Mixture of multiple words and multiple symbols
  • Indistinct relationships between components
  • Indistinct sequence
  • Redundant words/symbols

I think it would have been clearer — better — without the HERE and without the arrow. HERE? Really? Where else would you obey a road sign?

Wouldn’t this be better?


So simple, so strong.

OK. Glad I got that off my chest. I’ve seen this confusing Yield sign in other towns now, and it makes me wonder if other folks in other locales have also been confused, at least at their first viewing.

The moral of the story: The next time you are entering a building and push the door when you are supposed to pull it…it’s not your fault. Or when you are trying to get coffee out of a coffee machine and you push wrong buttons…it’s not your fault. Or you find yourself staring at a microwave, not knowing how to make it start…it’s not your fault…etc. etc. etc.

Any designers want to chime in on this?

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Problem: Inventory reports combine the item number and the item description into one field when generating reports. Also, parenthesis are inserted into the description. Sometimes, this is too much. You get this:




Solution: Go to Edit / Preferences / Reports & Graphs / Company Preferences and under REPORTS – SHOW ITEMS BY:  Click on “Name only”. Then you get this:




Problem solved! I picked up this tip from Deborah’s comment in another blog entry. Thanks, Deborah!



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