Want to do something to make your QuickBooks file perform just a little better? Reduce its DB file fragments.

File fragments in a QuickBooks file represent chunks of your QuickBooks data that are scattered around on different areas of your hard drive. The more scattered they are, the longer it takes QuickBooks’ database manager to go round up the data when you are printing a report or pulling up a list.

Find out how many file fragments your company file has by pressing the F2 key in QuickBooks. In the left column, about halfway down, you’ll see DB File Fragments, and a number.

QuickBooks F2 key Product Information screen
A sample F2 key screen. The DB File Fragments are at 5

The higher the number, the more fragmented your file. Many QuickBooks consultants say that the number of file fragments should stay under 20. A low number means your QuickBooks company data is all positioned together on your hard drive. QuickBooks is then able to access the data faster because the hard drive won’t have to work as hard to serve up your data.

If the number is high, then the data is scattered around and should be defragmented.

Imagine taking a bunch of fifth graders on a field trip to the zoo. When they get to the zoo, they scatter out in all directions. Gathering them all up to do a head count would take some time! But once they all rendezvous back at the bus and get in their seats, the head count would go much quicker. Think of the field trip kids back on the bus as being ‘defragmented’.

You can defragment your whole hard drive from Windows if you want, and your QuickBooks data and everything else on the hard drive will be arranged in a more contiguous arrangement. But that can take awhile.

Or, you can defragment only your QuickBooks company data file. How? By creating and then restoring a portable copy of your data. When you restore a portable copy, QuickBooks recreates all the internal indexes in the file. This will lay out your QuickBooks data on your hard drive in a more contiguous order. You should have a low DB File Fragment value after doing this.

How long it stays defragmented will depend on how big your file is and how much data is being added or changed in the file.

If your file has a lot of file fragments, or the file is very large, or is becoming unstable (or all three!) you might want to consider getting your file supercondensed.

Otherwise, doing the create/restore portable copy trick in QuickBooks is an easy, free way to at least temporarily help the situation.

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