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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6 thoughts on “How to Rebuild a QuickBooks File

  1. The fact that integrity can be damaged to begin with scares me about QB. The fact that the repair utility can corrupt data is even scarier!

    Quicken’s QuickBooks will never be a major competitor for even a small mid size companies until these gotchas are corrected in their system processes.

    Reply
    • Hi S.E.,

      Well, any data file can get corrupted. We also work with some Sage accounting databases and the same thing happens over there. The main thing is to have good current, verified backups on hand in case it happens. Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  2. Great Article Shannon. I love the detail and I an glad to have someone like you to be able to repair my client’s databases, both for QuickBooks and Sage 50 Peachtree Accounting.

    Regarding the comment from Mr. S.E. Johnson: “Quicken’s QuickBooks will never be a major competitor…”.

    Hello? QuickBooks has been the “Major” competitor in the small business accounting market for the past 20+ years…. It has the largest market share today.

    I have been working with QuickBooks, and other accounting programs for years. It, as well as other accounting programs, do experience some corruption, but not very often. It’s mostly environmental of user errors.

    Reply
  3. Since 1999 I’ve never had a corrupted file for any version for any of the 12 companies I work for. However, 2017, rebuilds EVERY time I exit/back up. When “view issues” appears, I click and it vanishes.

    Reply

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