We repair a lot of corrupted QuickBooks files. Naturally, people are often interested in the cause of the problem and what can be done to prevent it from happening again.
We don’t have a magic bullet for preventing re-corruption because the causes of data corruption are so varied and are oftentimes unknown.
But if my QuickBooks data file got corrupted, here are the things I would do to to minimize the likelihood of it happening again:
- IT audit. A lot of times, IT problems cause QuickBooks data crashes. Unless I have an in-house full-time IT pro, I would bring in an outside IT pro to evaluate and bulletproof my network IT, including not only the server, but every workstation, every network component, internet access (which every QB workstation needs), and electrical power.
- Security audit. This is really a component of an IT audit, but it merits special mention. I would evaluate for malware on every computer. I would also exclude the QuickBooks program and data folders from real-time scans so that QuickBooks can operate without impediment.
- Consider streamlining the file. If your file is so big (or the lists are so big) that the file is sluggish, that should be addressed. A sluggish file is vulnerable to data corruption. The options to remedy this would be to try the built-in Condense command on a copy of your file (if your edition has the Condense command), or to create a new file and bring over selective information into it, or to get your file supercondensed.
- Turn on Automatic Updates for both QuickBooks and Windows. If you don’t want to encounter bugs in QuickBooks, you probably want to be using the update that has the least bugs. And that would be the most current update, since Intuit – like every software developer – is constantly fixing bugs in their code. Some consultants recommend only updating Quickbooks once an update has been out there for awhile and has proved itself stable. But that means enduring known bugs that have already been fixed out of fear of unknown new bugs that may not exist. On balance, I want the latest stuff. Same philosophy for Windows updates. The only exception I would make to this strategy is if you are using a 3rd party app with Quickbooks that might be susceptible to interruption under an untested new QuickBooks update.
There is one kind of data corruption that for some users seems currently unfixable: Balance sheet errors. We don’t know how to keep that from happening or from re-happening. Rebuild Data can usually fix a balance sheet problem, and we can fix it when Rebuild data cannot. But it seems like the problem pops up again – the balance sheet goes out of balance again – once the repaired file starts gets used again. It’s a repeat offender problem. Why? We don’t know. But we’ve talked to a lot of people over the last few months who have experienced this.
If my data got corrupted more than once in a fairly short period of time (e.g. corrupted twice in a month, say), I would do one further thing. I’d make full-verified backups almost constantly. Then if/when the data gets corrupted again, I can restore a very current backup that is quite likely to be undamaged (unless verify doesn’t detect the problem…a possibility, but what can you do?)
How often to make verified backups? Think about the maximum hours or days of rekeying you can comfortably do. So, as an example, are you OK with your team rekeying 8 hours of data? Then make a verified backup every 8 hours. If that sounds too painful, then make a verified backup every 4 hours, or every 2 hours. Identify your rekey pain threshold, and set up a verify/backup schedule accordingly.
That’s no fun, I know! But until you get a good track record for awhile of operating without any new data corruption, that’s what I’d do. Once you get to the point where you feel that things have stabilized, you can relax the protocol some.
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