A friend of mine recently had her hard drive crash with QuickBooks on it. She thought she had a good backup on an external hard drive, and additionally, a good cloud backup.

Turns out she had neither. All the copies and backups of her file were copies of corrupted data.

Fortunately, an outside bookkeeper had put a QuickBooks backup on a USB stick three weeks earlier. So “only” three weeks of data had to be re-input, instead of lots, lots more.

What went wrong? In a nutshell: One-generation backups. That means there was only one copy of backups to restore from.

In her case, both the external hard drive and the cloud backup were being updated from files on her hard drive. That’s fine as far as it goes.

But when the hard drive went down and was recovered, a damaged QuickBooks company file was then backed up to all the backup systems. And so any previously backed up “good” data was overwritten by “bad” data.

There existed only one generation of QuickBooks data. That’s bad.

It’s true that there were IT protocol errors made in the attempted recovery, but the vulnerability was always there: If you have only one generation of backups, you can get burned.

The best way way to backup your QuickBooks data with current technology is to backup to a cloud-based system. And that system must both automatically backup your QuickBooks data in real-time and keep many generations (meaning days) of backups available.

For example, with Carbonite, you can set it up to maintain a rolling 90 day window of backups. It will make a backup every day for 90 days before the oldest file “falls off”. If you need to restore a backup, you can go back as far as 90 days to look for an uncorrupted file. That’s pretty great.

Have you been burned by one-generational backup systems? Or saved by multi-generational backups? Tell your story.

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4 thoughts on “You Say Your QuickBooks File is Backed Up Well. Hmm, Are You Sure?

  1. I backup QB regularly to a local folder and don’t delete any previous backups. That folder is backed up to the cloud and 2 backup local.drives. Then the local drives are disconnected just in case my system is hijacked..

    • Hi Evan,

      Is your cloud backup multi-generational? If so, then that sounds to me like a good setup. Yes, the whole local computer security issue is an important element too. Thanks for your comment.

  2. It sounds like the QB backup options were neither read nor implemented. Just a simple check of the box “Add the date and time of the backup to the file name (recommended)” would have created a UNIQUE backup file each and every time a backup was made, in the format “ABCCorp (Backup Jan 31,2018 08 23 PM). That way, if the current backup is from a corrupted .QBB or .QBW file, go back to the previous “good” backup.

    And as Evan said, above, don’t delete any previous backups; I, too, back up to a local folder (daily), an external hard drive (daily), the cloud (manually, every 3 days), and a thumb drive (at least once per week). And I archive the local folder every 60 days to a subdirectory on each of the local and external drives, to avoid the warning that I’ve reached the “99 files” limit.

    And as I wrap up each financial year, I also burn a copy to a CD of the last 3 or 4 backups just after filing the corporate returns, sticking that in the safety deposit box as an Armageddon-proof backup :-).

    Folks who say they don’t either 1) consider or 2) actually make regular backups (“…I don’t have the time…”, “… the hard drive will NEVER crash…”, etc.) are just seriously tempting fate and apparently have never had to rebuild a QB data file, or reenter data going back days or weeks. Your time is better spent on the front end, not the back end. As the tag line from the classic Fram Oil Filter commercial stated “… You can pay me now, or pay me later…”. Later is ALWAYS more costly.

    • Hi Doug,

      Yes, in the case of my friend, manual backups within QuickBooks were not regularly or frequently made. The assumption was that that was not needed since the live file was being automatically backed up daily.

      I’m impressed with breadth of your backup strategy! Good job. And yes, later is always more costly. Thanks for your comment.


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