“I’m using an old version of QuickBooks, and my hard drive died today. QuickBooks won’t give me the install codes – they say they don’t support my version anymore, and I have to upgrade. But I don’t want to upgrade! I just want to reinstall my old version.”

I have this conversation with users all the time. And it’s a shame. The solution would have been simple if they had only backed up their license keys and install codes.

This isn’t just about QuickBooks. It’s about any software you use that comes with registration/installation codes and keys.

The simple fix?

1. Make sure that you keep your license keys/codes with your original install CD. Write it on a label and stick it on the jewel case with the install CD. If you downloaded your software, see #2.

2. Create a document that contains your license keys. It could be just a Word or text file. Whenever you install new software, update the file with a new line that has your software’s name and version plus any registration keys or codes.

With QuickBooks 2010, you had to call Intuit directly on the phone to get a ‘verification’ number that was needed to complete the software registration. Make sure you keep that number with your other registration info.

Make sure that your registration information file is either backed up to an online backup service, or is an online document in the first place (like a Google Docs file.)

Why backup your license keys? Because before you know it, your software vendor won’t give them to you anymore. So take ten minutes and do this. Then, when the day comes and you need to reinstall your old software, you won’t need to panic or call anyone. You’ll just grab your keys and go.

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12 thoughts on “Why you should backup all your license keys and install codes today

  1. Shannon,

    This is great advice. I’m pretty fanatical about doing this with my QB, since I never know when a PC may get sick or die and I have clients who still use versions that are waaay past “sunset.”

    I haven’t been as thorough with other software I own, so I didn’t have license #s and such on CDs when several Microsoft Office programs tanked earlier this summer.

    Luckily, I did have a current printout of my entire computer’s “inventory” because I had recently run Belarc Advisor. This is a tool that I found many years ago
    and highly recommend. It looks at your computer and catalogs all your hardware and software (including license numbers). Runs on Windows machines only.

    It probably saved my job and my business.


  2. Shannon –

    Great piece of advice to save your License #, Product # & Validation code in a safe place. Sometimes it’s not a matter of your computer crashing, but just an issue of moving Quickbooks to a new computer or adding it to a laptop (Intuit does allow you to use 1 license on both your deskto & your laptop). While you can usually get your validation code to move Quickbooks to a different computer by calling Intuit, they usually make you jump through hoops first.

  3. That’s so frustrating. It seems like computer equipment is limited to “one piece.” If there are two pieces that need to go together you always seem to only have one of them. The old example is hardware items that need a device driver or other software. You can always find the hardware, but never the CD that came with it. Now it’s easy to get drivers on the web but in earlier times that wasn’t guaranteed.

    License keys are the same thing. You can find the CD, but where’s the key? Sometimes it’s on the CD case, other times it’s just a slip of paper in the box. Anyway since the invention of the Sharpie there’s a good solution: use a Sharpie to write the license key on the CD. Then it’s permanent. Of course Shannon’s other ideas about saving the keys in a text document are advisable also.

  4. Ok – so taking your advise and writing down the License # and Product #. Where do I find the validation code?

    Thanks for your help

    • Yes, that’s just the point…if you don’t record it when you first get it, it can be pretty hard to obtain it later. If your version is still supported by Intuit and you have paid support, they can probably provide it for you. Kind of a hassle, but if you don’t otherwise have it that’s probably your only option other than simply buying a newer version.

  5. I ran into this problem as well. I agree with writing it down and keeping it with your software. If you have a disc I have written both the key code and activation code on the disc with either two small stickers (one one each side to balance the disc) or directly with a fine point permanent marker.

    FYI Intuit will give you your activation code for your older version! Sometimes you have to get really stern with them about it. Their first line reps are brainwashed to just sell you upgrades and support. One of the best things you can tell them is “I don’t need your support just my activation code number.” “Bookkeeping is the same in any version of QB.”
    My first time dealing with them was with a brand new version of 2002 that I had never installed. They said it was licensed to someone else. (I don’t believe that! and no resolution became of it.) The second was new copy of 99 version. The CSR was very nice and after about five minutes he got me a new activation code for the version. They do have your original activation code in their database even though they don’t want you to know that.
    I have several words for it; laziness and unethical business practices come to mind. I understand they want to sell you new software. New business is what drives our economy. The trouble is their is a lot of people out there that are very happy with their current version. In my mind it is wrong to not at least give you your activation code, seeing as how you paid for this program no matter how long ago.
    Oddly even the “Big M” company will still get you activation codes for older versions of office. Why can’t Intuit.

  6. Pingback: Common Problems in Reinstalling QuickBooks « QuickBooks and Your Business

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