Have you ever tried to open an existing company file in QuickBooks and been confused? You see multiple copies of your file and don’t know which is the right one?

Or worse, you realize that your data has a “hole” in it, representing a month or more of data entry? You know you entered July’s entries, but suddenly they are just gone!?

The problem here could be that you have more than one version of your data on your computer or network, and have somehow jumped the track from one to the other. In the process, you left some of your data entry work behind.

This is difficult to correct after the fact. But it is not so hard to prevent it from happening in the first place. The key is to only have one working copy of your company file on your computer or server.

Note: If you run QuickBooks on a network and have different users accessing the company file, that company file should be in just one place. If you have copies scattered across the various network hard drives, that’s a recipe for disaster.

There are two ways to work the problem, depending on how confident you are that you are currently using the right copy.

If you are sure you are using the right copy, and want to prevent future problems…

Open your existing company file in QuickBooks. Press F2 and note the location and name of your file.

While the file is still open in QuickBooks, open My Computer or your server drive (if you run QuickBooks across a network.)

Search for this: *.qbw

You will see all your QuickBooks company files.

Your current company file will have the most current date and will be in the location you observed on the F2 screen.

You may see copies or duplicates of the same data. Delete (or rename) the copies of your file that are not the current one.

If you have copies of the data that you do want to keep (e.g. a pre-upgrade version, an end-of-year copy, etc.) then of course do not delete them. Just make sure that the company file name is unique and clear, so it could never be confused with your current working file.

If you don’t know which one is the right copy…

Don’t delete anything! Exit QuickBooks. Do the search as described above.

Look for the copy of your company file that has the biggest file size.

Unless your data has been supercondensed or recreated, the biggest file is generally the most current, because it has more transactions in it than older copies. Make a note of the name and location of the file (drive and folder path).

Don’t delete the other copies. Rather, rename them to something else (e.g. mycompany-probablyold-1.qbw, mycompany-probablyold-2.qbw, etc.)

Then open QuickBooks. Open existing company, and navigate to the location of the current company file (if it’s not already looking in the right place by default.) Open the file. Press F2 and look at the summary of information. Look right? Run some transaction reports and make sure that recent entries are there. If so, you’re good to go. If not, then you will have to meticulously examine other files or restore current backups. This is sometimes dangerous ground; get help if you need it.

When people call us for QuickBooks data recovery services, this sometimes comes up. We can repair damaged files, but we can’t put Humpty Dumpty together again if the wrong file has been used for a few months and data is “missing”. Better to avoid the situation in the first place.

Thanks to Laura Dion, one of our forum moderators, for addressing this question on the QuickBooks Forums.

Any other tips for preventing confusion about QuickBooks data files?

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2 thoughts on “How to Make Sure You Are Opening the Right Company File

  1. When trying to figure out “just what went wrong” we have found the journal report to be very helpful. Modify the standard report to include “Date Entered/Last Modified” and then filter that report by week or month until it comes up blank. The missing period represents the “hole” where you entered data in an alternate file.

    To avoid this we recommend clients append “Working file” to their company file name AND that they always monitor the path descriptor below the company selection box that appears in whenever QuickBooks starts and asks for a company file to open.


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