About Shannon Tucker

President, AccountingUsers, Inc.

Have you ever educated yourself on QuickBooks using Google’s search autofill?

I asked the classic journalistic questions about QuickBooks in Google’s search box. (That’s who, what, when, where, how and why questions, y’all.)

The autofilled questions that popped up must represent some of the most fundamental queries people make about QuickBooks today. Here are the “journalistic” questions people are asking about QuickBooks as of today:

WHO

who uses quickbooks

Top query: “Who to use quickbooks”. These are literal search phrases, so the slightly-off syntax there might suggest how quickly QuickBooks is growing in the international market where English is not the first language.

WHAT

what does quickbooks do
Most of these questions strike me as ones being asked by people without a whole lot of bookkeeping/accounting background. QuickBooks has long been marketed as the accounting solution for non-accountants. These questions make sense in that context.

WHEN

when to reconcile quickbooks

WHERE

where to learn quickbooks

Interesting question about where QuickBooks stores data. Might need to post a new blog entry on that.

HOW

how to make deposits in quickbooks

We’ve written a lot about that first ‘how’ question.

RELATED: Two QuickBooks Users Deal with Very Large Files
“I Was Told to Re-create My File and Start from Scratch…”

WHY

why use quickbooks
We’ve written a lot about these questions too.

Feel free to search our blog for lots of common and not-so-common topics in QuickBooks. The blog search is at the top of this page.

 

 

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We repair a lot of corrupted QuickBooks files. Naturally, people are often interested in the cause of the problem and what can be done to prevent it from happening again.

We don’t have a magic bullet for preventing re-corruption because the causes of data corruption are so varied and are oftentimes unknown.

But if my QuickBooks data file got corrupted, here are the things I would do to to minimize the likelihood of it happening again:

  • IT audit. A lot of times, IT problems cause QuickBooks data crashes. Unless I have an in-house full-time IT pro, I would bring in an outside IT pro to evaluate and bulletproof my network IT, including not only the server, but every workstation, every network component, internet access (which every QB workstation needs), and electrical power.
  • Security audit. This is really a component of an IT audit, but it merits special mention. I would evaluate for malware on every computer. I would also exclude the QuickBooks program and data folders from real-time scans so that QuickBooks can operate without impediment.
  • Consider streamlining the file. If your file is so big (or the lists are so big) that the file is sluggish, that should be addressed. A sluggish file is vulnerable to data corruption. The options to remedy this would be to try the built-in Condense command on a copy of your file (if your edition has the Condense command), or to create a new file and bring over selective information into it, or to get your file supercondensed.
  • Turn on Automatic Updates for both QuickBooks and Windows. If you don’t want to encounter bugs in QuickBooks, you probably want to be using the update that has the least bugs. And that would be the most current update, since Intuit – like every software developer – is constantly fixing bugs in their code. Some consultants recommend only updating Quickbooks once an update has been out there for awhile and has proved itself stable. But that means enduring known bugs that have already been fixed out of fear of unknown new bugs that may not exist. On balance, I want the latest stuff. Same philosophy for Windows updates. The only exception I would make to this strategy is if you are using a 3rd party app with Quickbooks that  might be susceptible to interruption under an untested new QuickBooks update.

There is one kind of data corruption that for some users seems currently unfixable: Balance sheet errors. We don’t know how to keep that from happening or from re-happening. Rebuild Data can usually fix a balance sheet problem, and we can fix it when Rebuild data cannot. But it seems like the problem pops up again – the balance sheet goes out of balance again – once the repaired file starts gets used again. It’s a repeat offender problem. Why? We don’t know. But we’ve talked to a lot of people over the last few months who have experienced this.

If my data got corrupted more than once in a fairly short period of time (e.g. corrupted twice in a month, say), I would do one further thing. I’d make full-verified backups almost constantly. Then if/when the data gets corrupted again, I can restore a very current backup that is quite likely to be undamaged (unless verify doesn’t detect the problem…a possibility, but what can you do?)

How often to make verified backups? Think about the maximum hours or days of rekeying you can comfortably do. So, as an example, are you OK with your team rekeying 8 hours of data? Then make a verified backup every 8 hours. If that sounds too painful, then make a verified backup every 4 hours, or every 2 hours. Identify your rekey pain threshold, and set up a verify/backup schedule accordingly.

That’s no fun, I know! But until you get a good track record for awhile of operating without any new data corruption, that’s what I’d do. Once you get to the point where you feel that things have stabilized, you can relax the protocol some.

RELATED: What Damages QuickBooks Data?

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You buy a used Mustang. Cool. You buy a used TV. Great. You buy a used CD of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Greatest Hits. Awesome! (If you can find that old CD player!)

But you don’t want to buy a used copy of QuickBooks? Why? Because it won’t work, even if you know the original install codes. Actually, it might work for a little while, but you won’t be able to use it on an ongoing basis.

Why? Because you won’t be able to register it, and pretty soon the program will stop opening.

When you install QuickBooks software on your computer, you enter the install codes (the license number and product number) and that lets you open the program. To keep using the software, however, you have to register it. And if your copy has already been installed and registered by someone else, that’s a big problem.

Intuit (QuickBooks’ maker) knows who that copy of the software was originally registered to. When you try to register it (with the original install codes) on your computer, it makes you enter some of the original registration information. Then Intuit’s auto-verification system will confirm that it’s really you by sending you a confirmation code to the phone number or email address of record for that registration account.

And since that’s not you, you can’t get the confirmation code. So the QuickBooks registration process comes to a grinding halt. And so does the software.

That’s why almost all QuickBooks products for sale in the aftermarket are new, and any used ones are sold “as is”, with uncertain claims about registration history. QuickBooks doesn’t work used.

 

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Let’s say there’s a problem with your QuickBooks file. You get an error when trying to save an invoice or other information.

Or your balance sheet is out of balance. Or you verify your file and it says there are errors and you should rebuild.

How do you rebuild your file? What are the risks? Will it work?

Rebuild Data is a built-in utility in QuickBooks that can fix a lot of different kinds of problems.

It sometimes messes things up, however.

Therefore #1: Don’t run it as a routine procedure. (Running Verify Data routinely, however, is great.)

Therefore #2: Run it on a copy of your company data, not your live file. If you are having a data problems, create a copy of your file, or backup your company and restore it to a different name, and run the rebuild on the copy. It will be a test.

How do you rebuild your test copy? Log in to the copy of your company as Admin, then click File / Utilities / Rebuild Data.

 

It will close all open windows in QuickBooks, and then make you create a current backup (QBB file) of your data. (If you are set up to verify your backups, and verify fails, then you can check the “No Verification” option on the backup window. Otherwise, you’re in a Catch-22.)

After the backup is made, the rebuild will immediately commence.

To rebuild a file may take only a few minutes for a small file. But it sometimes takes a long time (hours) with a big file or a badly damaged file.

In older versions, you’d get a message at the end that says that the rebuild succeeded or failed.

With the 2017 version, you see this:

Click the View Issues button to see what happened. It will pop up a window with a report of what it fixed, or didn’t.

If rebuild succeeded and thinks it fixed everything, don’t pop the cork on the champagne just yet. Sometimes rebuild will significantly change account balances, or customer or vendor balances, without warning. So you should print out a balance sheet, a customer aging report, and a vendor aging report, and see if anything has changed.

Since this is a copy of your file, you can run reports from this rebuild copy, and then open your live file, run the same reports, and compare.

Pay particular attention to your balance sheet. Rebuild can change any account significantly, but especially check your inventory account, your accounts receivable and accounts payable accounts, and your bank accounts.

Check out your P&Ls also. They can sometimes get changed in unexpected ways.

Of course, it may be that the balances were incorrect before, and they are correct after the rebuild. But you want to be aware. Sometimes the rebuilt balances just don’t conform to reality at all.

Another fluky thing that rebuild can do, to your detriment, is to somehow disconnect transactions that should be connected. For example, a bill payment can get disconnected from the bill it paid. That reopens the original bill, and it throws off that vendor’s balance. That’s why you should check your aging reports and compare the rebuilt numbers to the original numbers. If a vendor bill got unpaid, as an example, then your aging buckets will be off.

If your review of the rebuilt file is favorable, then hooray! You can likely feel good about making the rebuilt file your main working file going forward.

But sometimes you might see this:

 

If rebuild did not succeed, don’t despair just yet. It means that you’ve got data corruption in the file that is serious, but you still have options. I suggest you approach your options in this order:

  1. Rebuild again, and yet again. It seems a bit strange, but if you run the rebuild command multiple times, it will sometimes fix problems that don’t get fixed in the first rebuild pass. I don’t know why. But many consultants in the QuickBooks world will confirm this by their own experience. Rebuilding three consecutive times seems to be magic sometimes. Again, do this on the test copy of your file, not your live file. And if it appears to succeed, check out the results per the paragraphs above before putting the file into production.
  2. Restore your last recent good backup that was made before the problem occurred. This would be a backup or copy of the file that verifies without errors, where the balances are correct and the transactions are linked together properly, and doesn’t generate any runtime errors. If this backup was made a day or two ago, perhaps it wouldn’t be too inconvenient to rekey a day or two’s data.
  3. If you’re still in a pickle, get professional help. We have provided guaranteed data repair services to Quickbooks users since 2001, and our success rate is high. Intuit and a few other outfits can help as well. The “contact support” link in the rebuild report, per the screen snippet above, will get you into Intuit’s system, if that’s where you want to go.

RELATED: “We Were Told Our QuickBooks File Was Corrupted Beyond Repair”

RELATED: Some Data Problems We’ve Seen in QuickBooks 2016

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Some Enterprise users find themselves wishing they could jump down to Premier or Pro without having to start over a new company. Why? Mostly because newer versions of Enterprise require you to subscribe and pay for the Enterprise software monthly or annually. Premier and Pro editions are not licensed that way.

That’s where Enterprise Downgrade Service comes in. Here’s what a few former-Enterprise users have to say about their experience in migrating down from Enterprise.

I was a little concerned about downgrading from Quickbooks Enterprise to Premier.  Concerned about losing data.  AccountingUsers made the process very easy and very successful.  It was simple to create a portable file which I uploaded to them and then they provided instructions how to install that data into the new Premier program.  The turnaround time to accomplish this was quick also so I did not have to worry about adding a lot of information on my own that was done in QuickBooks between the time I sent them the file and they returned it to me.  Great job.”
— Sarah Tavera, Western Florida Lighting

The downgrade process to QB Premier from Enterprise was fabulous.  I was able to speak with someone right away, send my file easily, and get it back the NEXT DAY……though I had been told it might be 3 days.  And nothing was amiss….Thank you so much!”
— Courtney Campell, CPA, PA

So far, soooo good!  It looks like all of our data converted, and I am able to access 12 of the 13 reports that I previously accessed in Enterprise.  I am both thankful and impressed!  I will let you know if I have any questions as I learn more in Premier.
— Debbie Hendrix, Pilgrim Lutheran Church and School

Never having done this before I was a little concerned about contacting a company, off the internet, who would be looking at our company documents. There are many bogus companies and websites out there. But when I called QuickbookUsers.com I reached Shannon right away – no waiting on hold for a long period of time, no multiple transfers and no automated menus with multiple choices and layers to reach a live person. Shannon explained the process.  I purchased the service and I did receive the portable file in the 2 days specified. Not being a savvy computer person I had to follow up with questions.  Shannon answered all of them and patiently helped me through my ignorance on certain aspects of the computer world.  We uploaded the file to our computer and everything went smoothly.  There were no hitches or problems of any kind. I highly recommend QuickbookUsers.com if you need to downgrade a QB file to a simpler version.”
— Judith Bolger

 RELATED: Can a QuickBooks Enterprise File Be Converted to Premier or Pro?

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What if QuickBooks crashed…your data corrupted…and you didn’t have good backups? What if Intuit says your file is unrecoverable? All is not lost…

“We were told by Intuit disaster recovery team that our files were corrupted beyond repair.   In combination with our backup company’s complete failure to copy our data file, we were in dire straits.  I chose the expedited service with AccountingUsers as we needed to know quickly how much trouble we were in.  After sending the files in, and a couple of phone calls, Shannon had our files fixed and back within hours.  We were ecstatic.  Thank you!”

Myrna Bittner, California Closets Alberta

“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.

“For a few years these problems have plagued us and we’ve spoken with other “Supposed” support companies who did not have the first clue what to do with us. Shannon was great in contacting me and responding to my questions and concerns (especially since it was difficult for me to explain some of them.) I cannot believe that we do not have the problems anymore and we are so grateful.”

Jennifer Szescula, Allegiance Technology Partners

“The data services and customer service received was excellent. I appreciated the quick responses, communication and turn around time of the file. Thank you for your assistance and efficiency during a crucial time of software repair.”

Marcy Ratcliff, C.N. Copeland Electrical Service

“I likes Shannon’s guarantee, if he doesn’t recover the file, you don’t pay!  I approached him regarding my quickbooks file that was damaged and I couldn’t open.  He was quick to respond and his turnaround time was amazing!  He was able to recover my file which saved me a ton of time re-doing work!  Thanks so much!”

Regina Jensen, J&J Consulting

“This is actually my 2nd time using your service and you’ve exceeded my expectations even more this time around.  I contacted you late in the afternoon PST and you had the file repaired within 8 hours.  That is incredibly fast service!!!  I can not thank you enough for the great service you provide, keep up the great work.”

Ed Lem, GLH Tech

“I am very satisfied with the repair service for QuickBooks Enterprise provided by Shannon Tucker. Our company file was repaired and returned more quickly than expected. It was very easy to restore. Downtime was kept to a minimum. Thank you.”

Nancy McClure

Find out more about guaranteed QuickBooks data repair services here.

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If you’ve been thinking about buying or upgrading to QuickBooks 2017, here are some screenshots to give you a visual of what you’re getting into. Click on any of these screenshots to see the full display. (These are from QuickBooks Accountant Desktop 2017…some screens from other desktop editions might look a little different.)

Let’s start off the with home screen. Pretty much the same as QuickBooks 2016, except you see that there is a red icon on Record Deposits, that shows you what is pending there. That icon is new.

QuickBooks 2017 Home Screen
Here's the QuickBooks 2017 desktop home screen

QuickBooks 2017 Customer Center

qb2017_customercenter

The customer center looks about the same as before. One new feature, however, is in the search function. You can now search by customer type.

QuickBooks 2017 Create Invoices

qb2017_invoices

Here’s what the invoice screen looks like. This example is from the product-based sample company, so you see inventory items listed.

And speaking of inventory, here is a screenshot from the item list search function. People sometimes call and complain when there is a perceived change in how the search works; sometimes it has seemed to some users that search capability has gotten more restrictive instead of otherwise when they upgrade or update.

But in the 2017 version, searching is easier and more powerful. You can now search for a partial term found anywhere in the item name. In the example below, you can see that a search for “door” brings up items that have “door” anywhere in the item name.

QuickBooks 2017 Search

qb2017_search

This makes searching a lot easier if you can’t remember exactly what the name is. If you can remember a piece of the name, you should be able to find what you’re looking for.

This search capability works best if you turn on the Preference for General / “Automatically open drop-down lists when typing”.

QuickBooks 2017 Vendor Center

qb2017_vendorcenter

Not much difference here from earlier versions, but you can search by vendor type if you want. That’s new.

QuickBooks 2017 Enter Bills

qb2017_bills

Here’s a look at the Enter Bills screen. All the transaction entry screens let you minimize the navigation pane on the left by clicking the left-arrow at the top of the pane. You can also minimize the vendor pane on the right if you want. You’re in control of your own elbow room on transaction screens.

QuickBooks 2017 Unpaid Bills Report with Report Filtering

qb2017_filters

Here’s an A/P report that I’ll use to demonstrate a good new feature in QuickBooks 2017: An optional view of a report’s filters.

If you customize a report and set up filters for the information to be displayed, you can then click Show Applied Filters and QuickBooks will display the active filter details at the top of the report. If you are not getting the information you need and are troubleshooting your customizations, this is a handy way to see what is driving your report. If you print your report (instead of just displaying it on the screen), you’ll get a filter summary at the end of the report.

You can click either Show or Hide for your reports filters. The default mode is for your filters to be hidden.

QuickBooks 2017 Scheduled Reports

qb2016_reports

Another new thing about reporting in QuickBooks 2017: Scheduled reports. You can now schedule selected reports for password-protected emailing if you wish. This could be handy if you need to regularly send particular reports (sales reports, budget reports, inventory management reports) to people in your organization. This can happen automatically now without you having to remember to do it. You set this up through the Reports menu.

QuickBooks 2017 Employee Center

qb2017_payrollcenter_employees

Nothing really new here, but for those interested in how QuickBooks does payroll, here are the screens from the Employee Center.

QuickBooks 2017 Employee Center – Transactions

qb2017_payrollcenter_transactions

QuickBooks 2017 Employee Center – Payroll Tab

qb2017_payrollcenter_payroll

So there you go. If you’ve made the jump to QuickBooks 2017 desktop, what do  you think about it so far?

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I am receiving an unusual number of calls right now from QuickBooks users who can no longer get into QuickBooks. They get a message like “QuickBooks has stopped working”, or “QuickBooks has encountered a problem and must be closed”. Or they don’t get an error message, but QuickBooks won’t run all of a sudden.

This problem is showing up in the comments of other blog posts too.

All of these calls and posts have two things in common:

  1. The users are using Windows 10, which just installed an update
  2. The users are using a version of QuickBooks older than the 2015 version

Many of the users are frustrated and confused. Several have told me, “I know this is an old version of QuickBooks, but it was working just fine until today!”

Here’s the deal: Only QuickBooks 2015 or higher is certified to work correctly with Windows 10.

The users I’ve been talking to seem to have been using older versions of QuickBooks under Windows 10 without any problems…until last week! Once the Windows update was installed, their computer couldn’t run QuickBooks anymore.

I don’t know of a workaround for this in the old QuickBooks versions, or if a workaround will come. The oldest version of QuickBooks that Intuits still supports is 2014, and I will be quite surprised if they provide any kind of patch to the pre-2014 versions.

If you are running old QuickBooks and haven’t yet installed the Windows 10 update, I suppose you could turn off Windows Updates, and keep that update from hitting your computer (if it hasn’t already). But it’s not a good idea to freeze your installation of Windows and stop updating it. Bad security, bad IT strategy. So that’s not a good long-term solution.

The only ongoing solution I can think of right now is to get a version of QuickBooks that is coded to work correctly with Windows 10: QuickBooks 2015, QuickBooks 2016, or QuickBooks 2017. Sorry, no magic bullet for the old stuff. If I hear of anything, though, I’ll post it here.

Have any of you encountered this problem and found a solution?

RELATED: How to Transfer Files from Older Version to New Version of QuickBooks

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There are different data or backup file formats in QuickBooks. Which ones do you need? Which ones should you use when you send data to your colleagues? Which ones do you want to backup to the cloud or offsite in case your drive crashes? Which ones would you send out for data repair in case of a data catastrophe?

QBW file. The first thing to understand is that your actual working data file is a QBW file. This is the most important QuickBooks data file you have on your system.

If you are looking at a QBW file in Windows, the Type is “QuickBooks Company File”. There will only be one of those for your company name.

Confusing: There is also a file called yourcompanyname.QBW, where the Type is “Data Source Name”. That file is not your actual data file.

QBB file. This is a regular backup file made within QuickBooks through the Backup Company / Create Local Backup command. It is often actually bigger than the main QBW file, and that’s normal. The QBB file contains the contents of the TLG file too, which makes it bigger.

RELATED: Why You Should NOT Backup to a USB Flash Drive

QBM file. This is a portable file, a kind of backup file made with the QuickBooks Create Copy… / Portable company file command. This file is quite small compared to the main QBW file; it is often only 20% the size of the main QBW file. That’s because the indexing in the file is largely removed. But when you restore it, everything is there. So this file format is best for when you need to transfer QuickBooks data to your colleagues. This is the file format we request that clients upload to us for data repair, supercondense, or Enterprise downgrade work.

So which of these files should you upload to your cloud backup service, or offsite backup solution? Answer: All of them. If your system gets infected by malware, or your server drive goes down, or somebody accidentally deletes your files, you’ll want all the backups you can get, from as many recent dates as you can get, and in any format. To me, you can never have too many copies or backups of your accounting data.

RELATED: A Humble Hero: The QuickBooks TLG File

Scenario: You find yourself in QuickBooks catastrophe mode: your server drive or local hard drive or RAID drive goes down. You don’t have the cloud or off-site backups you thought you did. Your IT pro recovers files from the crashed drive, including QuickBooks files. Yet, when you try to open the files, or restore backups, it fails. At that stage, only your QBW files might be salvaged. Damaged QBB or QBM files are not recoverable. But it might be possible to repair your damaged QBW file.

RELATED: QuickBooks Data Repair Services: User Reviews
RELATED: Some Data Problems We’ve Seen in QuickBooks 2016

Bottom-line: When you are setting up your backup system, make sure you will be backing up everything in your \Company Files folder and subfolders under it. Or if you create or store your QBW, QBB or QBM files in a different folder, specify that folder to be backed up daily.

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

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