If your QuickBooks company file gets flippin’ big, it can start to slow you down. Invoices take a while to save. Reports take minutes to generate. Maybe QuickBooks randomly crashes.

What can you do? One classic approach is to recreate your file. A recreated file is started from scratch. Then you add in to it as much data as you need for it to be current and usable. Some companies do this as a regular procedure every three to five years.

RELATED: My QuickBooks File Is HUGE! What Can I Do?

How do you do it? First, you have to decide on a cutoff date for your new file.

The cutoff date represents the point in time at which you want to bring transactions and balances from your old file into your new file. The cutoff date is usually the end of a fiscal year.

Here are the general steps to recreate a company file:

  1. Create a new company file in QuickBooks
  2. Export from the old company, and import into the new company, all of your chart of accounts, customers, vendors, employees, inventory items and any other list items. If you want to clean up your lists, you can do so in Excel in between the export and import steps.
  3. Edit customers and complete their credit card number. QuickBooks only transfers the last 4 digits.
  4. In the new company, bring over all the open or pending accounts receivable and accounts payable transactions as of the cutoff date. The transactions you add in to your new company can be manually entered, or you can buy and use 3rd party utilities that can export and import certain kinds of transactions.
  5. Input all the outstanding checks and deposits for all your bank accounts
  6. Input all balance sheet and profit & loss year-end figures as of the cutoff date and verify that they are the same as in old set of books; make needed adjustments
  7. Input all outstanding sales orders, purchase orders and estimates
  8. Input all transactions entered after the cutoff date: invoices, credit memos, sales receipts, credit card receipts, bills, bill payment checks, checks, transfers, receive payments, deposits, and vendor credits
  9. Recreate all payroll checks
  10. Recreate all employees’ personal data — assign their earnings, taxes and deductions
  11. Set up each  employee’s year-to-date earnings, tax deductions, loan repayments
  12. Reset all government tax forms and sales tax payments
  13. Set up beginning balance inventory figures
  14. Adjust and re-reconcile all inventory after all data is imported
  15. Remove any inactive customers, vendors, chart of accounts, items
  16. Re-link credits, vendor credits and payments
  17. Re-reconcile all bank accounts and credit card accounts
  18. Re-reconcile all income accounts, expense accounts, asset accounts and liability accounts
  19. Re-reconcile A/P and A/R
  20. Recreate memorized reports
  21. Recreate memorized transactions
  22. Recreate templates
  23. Make sure everything balances to the last balance sheet from the old file and make any necessary adjusting entries
  24. Set up users and privileges
  25. Verify and rebuild the file; make sure there are no errors

Complicated? A bit. Time-consuming? Yep. But sometimes you don’t have a choice — you have to take action — things can’t go on as they have.

It’s better to plan and execute a company recreate before it’s an emergency.

Have you ever recreated your file? How did it go?

34 thoughts on “How to Recreate a QuickBooks File? Here are the Steps

  1. I need further information on some of the steps in this article.
    Under step 4, where do you buy the “3rd party utilities to export/import certain kinds of transaction”?
    Under steps 5, 6, 7, and 8, it says to “Input all”, is this done automatically when the company is recreated or is this done manually?
    Under step 16, what is involved to “Re-link”?
    I hope to hear from you soon. Thanks!

    • You can find import/export tools here.

      No, those steps don’t happen automatically. They represent processes you do either manually or with some help from import/export utilities.

      Relinking refers to applying credits and payments to the right invoices.

    • …or crying! It’s not a trivial undertaking. But a QuickBooks user had asked me for a list of the steps, so I thought I’d put one out there that represents at least for how we go about it.

  2. I see…

    It’s basically starting a new company with a fresh start-up balances…
    Nice idea. I should apply this to one of the companies im handling.

    Thanks Shannon.

  3. If your QuickBooks company file gets flippin’ big, it can start to slow you down. Invoices take a while to save. Reports take minutes to generate. Maybe QuickBooks randomly crashes. What can you do? One classic approach is to recreate your file. A recreated file is started from scratch. Then you add in to it as much […]

  4. Aloha ka kou,
    I would like to create a new file for 2011, my question is regarding Quickbooks Bill payment which is done online. How do I transfer this service to the new file? Is this possible?

    Mahalo Nui!

  5. Aloha Shannon,

    Thanks for the quick response. When you say activate, what specific steps do I take? Yes, you should visit Hawaii. There are many things to explore on our lovely islands.

    Mahalo plenty,

  6. Carol, I don’t use that service so I don’t know exactly. But it should be the same as if you were interfacing your QB file to the bill payment service for the first time. Probably entering in your bill payment account login details into the right place in QB.

    I’ve been to the Big Island twice…loved it! Hope to see some of the other islands sometime.

  7. Shannon,

    You can visit many times and not see all the wonders. Check out the website: instanthawaii.com

    I went on adventures with these guys and they know more about the island than me.



  8. Shannon,

    I currently use QB Enterprise 2008. We also use the payroll service within this software. At the end of this month the payroll will no longer be supported in this 2008 release. They want us to upgrade to 2011 for $2100.00 but I want to go back to QB Pro (it was probably a mis-step to go to Enterprise in the first place). However, I’m told that Enterprise and Pro use different database engines. So I cannot downgrade my Enterpeise QB company file.

    Question: Do you know of a tool that will transfer the data to from 2008 Enterpeise to 2011 Pro? Or should I just create a new company file?

    Followup Question: If you don’t know of a good tool and recommend creating a new company file for 2011 Pro, can I export lists and transactions etc. from Enterprise 2008 to Excel .csv and then into 2011 Pro without any problems. Is this just a matter of getting the fields defined properly?

    • I don’t know of a tool to do that, but we offer it as a service.

      Otherwise, you can export your lists into Excel and then import them into a QB Pro new company file. To get the transactions over, you can use third party tools to bring over most of them.

      If it’s just a one-time thing, it’s probably most cost-effective to let us do it for you.

  9. It seems to me that you’re going all the way around your elbow to get back to your thumb. You’re also banging your head against a wall the whole time you’re making the trip.

    Why not just clean up your data, compressing transactions into summary data from the beginning of your company data to a date that you specify? If your data is good and balances are good, why in the world do you want to create a new file??? This compression is the way that Quickbooks has designed in it to drastically reduce the size of the company file without having to start over. Obviously, you need to create a backup of the company file that you can use if you ever need to review details of transactions, but if you always keep the current year plus the preceding 2 or 3 years of data, you will almost always have all you need handy. I am at a total loss to understand why you’d say you need to create a new company file to trim your data down.

  10. Hi Dennis, I assume that you are referring to the Clean Up Company command that is built in to QuickBooks, which is the current version of the old archive/condense commands. Have you tried it? Did it bring your file size down significantly? I talk to people all the time who say they ran the command and it only reduced the file size by 5 or 10%, especially if you have inventory items. Theoretically, it should do as you say, but in reality, the outcome is pretty different.

  11. I am setting up a new company file. I followed the instructions above on exporting / importing the lists. I have discovered a major problem in the item list. The vendor part no. did not export from the old company file. At this point it appears that I have to re enter the data manual. Any ideas on where this went wrong??

  12. There is an easier way.

    The problem with aforementioned method is, it’s a tedious task to bring lists in sync with the old file. Most people try to sync only list items that have any balance, but over time they find themselves keeping recreating individual list items all over again (for example, when writing an invoice to a customer which didn’t get transferred).

    Instead, open the old file, go to File->Utilities->Clean up company data, and choose “all transactions”. I know, you would say it doesn’t reduce file size. For this reason, just create a Portable copy of the file, and recover from that file (File->Create copy). This should remove all unnecessary space from the file. But it may not reduce the size of .tlg file. To solve this, I also backup the new file, delete the new file, and just restore from the backup. This has always reduced the size of .tlg file for me.

    If you have many unnecessary list items in the newly created file (items, customers, vendors) now you are free to delete them manually. Trust me, deleting list items is a lot easier than to create them manually! Been there!!!

  13. Sorry, posted the incomplete comment…

    after having done the steps in my previous comment, just create one invoice for each customer who has the balance that needed to be transferred. To do this, create an non-inventory item called “Opening balance item”, link it to “Opening balance equity”, and invoice the customer for this item. In case he/she has a negative balance, create credit memo instead.

    To transfer inventory balances, just do inventory value and quantity adjustment.

    For supplier balances write a bill against Opening balance equity account.

    For all other balance sheet items just a one single JOurnal entry.

    There is also a Opening Balance Transfer Utility tool available for $99. Unless you have hundreds of list items with balances, it’s not worth the trouble, since you still have to prepare the file for this tool, but following the steps outlined in my previous post.

    Just give it a shot, it’s pretty easy and effective!


    • Hi Sherzod,

      Thanks for sharing your insights! I like the simplicity of your approach.

      QuickBooks has changed quite a bit since 2010 when this post was first published. There is now also a Condense Command in the US versions of QuickBooks that can save a lot of time, compared to recreating.

      Or when that command doesn’t work, our Supercondense process (https://quickbooksusers.com/quickbooks-supercondense/ ) is often a cost-effective alternative to recreating. Thanks again for your comments.

  14. Hello,
    My QB is a mess, a royal mess and looks to be unfixable. I have been told to start a new company and only bring over customer list and vendor list and then my accountant is going to set up all the list and chart of accounts that we need and enter his own starting and ending balances. is this fairly easy to do can you only pick certain items to move over?

    • Hi Andrea,

      You can bring the customer/vendor/accounts lists into Excel, edit them there, and then use the edited lists to bring into the new company. If you’re good in Excel, that shouldn’t be too difficult. Thanks for your question.

  15. Hello,

    I have a question QuickBooks Pro 2013 is on the computer at the church and on my laptop at home and I want to make sure that both always have the same information. I do a backup id the file from the church on my zip drive but when I get home to my laptop I have a problem restoring that information to my laptop and vice versa. What is the best way to do this. Thanks any help will be appreciated.

    • Hi Francesca,

      What you are trying to do shouldn’t be hard to do. You might try making the backup on the church computer to that computer’s Windows Desktop, then copying the backup from the Windows Desktop to your zip drive. Then on your laptop, copy the backup file from the zip drive to your laptop’s Windows Desktop. Then in QuickBooks, restore the backup file that is on your Windows Desktop. If that doesn’t fix the problem, please give me more detail about what the restore problem is.

      Thanks for your question.

  16. I’m using a QB file Enterprise Edition nearly 3G big. I´d like to to reduce it to a new company file importing the customers, vendors ,chart of accounts, items list, employees list with the current year transactions only. In case of a need to see previous year transactions access these transactions opening previous database file.

    • Hi Efrain,

      If you want to do that project yourself, you might find some of the tools at baystateconsulting.com to be helpful. If you want someone to tackle the project for you, I suggest the folks at accountingsoftwaresecrets.com . Thanks for your question.

  17. quick question… I have condensed my file and now need to be able to access the old data. Rather than going back to the old file each time, now can I use the “old” file and import the new transactions from my working file to before the condense date? Is that possible? Journal entries were formed for the “condensed” data so if this works, then I assume I can just delete the journal entries?


    • Hi Balonie,

      Well, I think that would sort of undo your condense, and the benefits that come with it. What I generally recommend is that you just keep your original data on your system and open it whenever you need to access old data. If you have Enterprise or Accountant editions, you can have both companies open at the same time, which could save some time. But if you only need to reference the old data occasionally, I’d say just open the old file as needed.

      Thanks for your question.

  18. Hi,

    I am looking into a possibility of having to recreate quickbooks file form a GL report that will have information from the business’ start date. I am planning to clean up the file and import with Teansaction Pro. Any recommendations?

    • Hi Anna,

      Sounds like a pretty good plan to me! You might just check with Baystate Consulting, or one of the people in their consulting network, for advice on most effectively using their tools for your project. Thanks for your question.

  19. Shannon,
    We are looking to start a new company file, as our current one has gotten too big. Our issue is that we have a 3rd party warehouse/order system that syncs to Quickbooks (Enterprise, v11) and it requires the internal IDs to remain the same on the transferred data. We had someone do this for us back in 2016, but unfortunately they’ve passed on, and the few places we checked don’t seem to provide the service. Any suggestions in our case?

    • Hi JJ,

      If you are creating a new company and exporting/importing data into the new company, I don’t think the internal references will be the same in the new file. We don’t provide that service, however, so I can’t speak categorically about that. Sorry no magic bullet.


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