Sometimes QuickBooks users want to migrate from their desktop edition (Pro, Premier, or Enterprise) to QuickBooks Online. It’s supposed to be a hassle-free migration. What if it’s not?

The main kink people run into is file size. There is a 200MB limit on file size to do the migration. (This limit was 140MB until not long ago.) So if your QBW file is over that limit, you can’t create the special “Copy for QuickBooks Online” file in QuickBooks. And you therefore can’t import your desktop data to the QuickBooks Online system.

What to do?

1. You can export your company lists out of your desktop file and import the lists into QuickBooks Online. You would then need to enter in beginning balances or reenter open transactions.

2. You can use some third party tools to export and import transaction-level data from your QuickBooks company file into QuickBooks Online.

3. You can use the QuickBooks Online File Preparation Service. This service provides a turnkey solution to the problem: An importable OE.QBW file is returned to you that is ready to be imported into QuickBooks Online. By removing some of the oldest information, the 200MB limit can be observed even if your original QBW file is larger than 200MB.

Have you migrated QuickBooks desktop data to QuickBooks Online? How did it go?

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When we supercondense data for a client, they most often will also retain a copy of their original file for historical reporting purposes, while using the smaller, speedy file we return to them for their day-to-day use.

How do you keep track of different versions of your data? How do you keep your team from getting confused, and possibly entering new data into an old file?

There a couple tricks you can use to keep everything straight:

1. Change the company’s name for the old, historical data. You can change the file’s name in Windows, and the company’s internal name in Company / Company Information. If you have a copy of your company information that you DO NOT want anyone making changes to, give it a name like “DO NOT MAKE ENTRIES – MyCompany” or “HISTORICAL REPORTING ONLY – MyCompany”

2. Lock users out of making changes to copies of your data that are for historical reporting purposes only. It’s easy. Click Company / Set Closing Date / Set Date/Password. For closing date, enter a date farther in the future than you think anyone would ever use in this QuickBooks company. Then enter a Closing Date Password.

This should prevent anyone from accidentally making entries into this file, thinking that it is the current file. You can also go into each user’s permissions and in this file and remove user rights that would allow them to change the data.

3. Think through how you open your files. If you use “Open Previous Company”, that’s great — I do it myself all the time. But don’t blindly open your company this way — don’t be on autopilot. Why? Because if someone else (maybe even you) opened a different copy of the company before, that is likely to be at the top of the “Previous Company” list. That may or may not be the copy of the data that you actually want to open and use.

4. Be careful with local copies. If you keep your “master” copy of your data on your network server, but sometimes put a copy of your data on your local C: drive, that can be a potential problem. What if you later open the local copy, thinking it’s the master copy? And you start making changes. Well, by the time you figure out your mistake, you’ve got “live” data in two files, and that’s difficult to fix. Best to name your local file as something like “LOCAL COPY – MyCompany”, or delete it after you’ve temporarily used it.

How do you manage multiple copies of your data? Or do you?

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I talked with Karter Kenney, of Pioneer Broadband, about the challenges of running a large company data file in QuickBooks. He told me how he dealt with QuickBooks performance problems by having his file supercondensed.

Shannon Tucker: Karter, can you tell me a little about your company, and your role there?

Karter Kenney: Pioneer Broadband is an Internet Service Provider deliver high speed internet via Fiber, DSL, and Fixed Wireless. I am one of the founding members and now am the VP of Finance

Shannon Tucker: What edition of QuickBooks do you use? And what does your office use QuickBooks for?

Karter Kenney: We are using Quickbooks Enterprise. All billing, A/R and A/P.

Shannon Tucker: Were there any particular things that led up to your contacting us about your QuickBooks file? How was QuickBooks working for you before?

Karter Kenney: Before contacting you, our QuickBooks was crashing constantly and very, very slow to do anything.

Shannon Tucker: What did you hope would result from getting your file supercondensed? Did you have any particular expectations?

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

Karter Kenney: I was hoping for more stability and faster reaction.

Shannon Tucker: What was the process like…the steps you took to send your file, the scheduling and turnaround, etc.?

Karter Kenney: As easy as it could possibly be. Took mere minutes to create the portable backup on Friday afternoon, and I got an email Sunday night that the work was complete. Restored the file Monday morning.

Shannon Tucker: How did your supercondensed QuickBooks file work for you when you got it back from us?

Karter Kenney: I cannot put into words how much better it works. It exceeded my expectations tenfold. I knew that QuickBooks had slowed down over the years, but forgot just how fast it could be. We have not had QuickBooks crash once since the supercondense. It was worth every penny.

Shannon Tucker: Thank you, Karter.

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If you ever need to restore a really old backup of your QuickBooks company, you might be worried about how that will work.

Fortunately, most of the time, the old backups restore without any issues. You just do the “Open or Restore Company” command and restore it just like you would a current backup.

Of course, in lots of cases, the old data was originally created with an old version of QuickBooks – a version you no longer use.

That’s OK most of the time. Whenever you restore a backup in QuickBooks that was originally made with an older version, QuickBooks will automatically update the data to the currently installed version. When the restore process is completed, the update process is completed too, and your data is ready to go.

Sometimes, if the jump between versions is really big (restoring a QuickBooks 99 company under QuickBooks 2012, for example) then there can be restore/update problems. And sometimes there is data corruption (unknown to you) in the old file that would prevent the data from restoring and being updated.

In situations like these, data can be repaired and updated for you.

Here’s a hitch we have heard of: You can’t restore an old backup to a computer running an even older version of QuickBooks. For example, trying to restore a backup made with QuickBooks 2009 on a computer running QuickBooks 2008. That won’t work. QuickBooks can restore backups made from prior versions, but not future versions. In the scenario I described, you’d have to get a copy of QuickBooks 2009 or later to restore a QB 2008 backup.

In most cases, however, old data will restore just exactly as you wish it would.

CAVEAT: One final word of caution when restoring old backups — don’t overwrite your current file. People sometimes do this, not thinking about the implications. If you replace your current file with the old file, then all you’ll have available afterwards is old data. People sometimes call me up and say that their company is now missing a couple years’ of records. Many times, it’s because they restored a two year old backup and that’s all they have available now. Sad! Don’t do that!

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I got a nice note last week from Jon Kraut of LogoFit (name used by permission).

He said this about our QuickBooks data repair services:

“Shannon and his team did a great job for us, fixed a difficult database error when Intuit tech support wouldn’t. The communication during the process was very good as well. We recommend them for database repairs.”

I was glad that Jon was pleased with how things turned out. But I was especially happy that he thought we did a good job of communicating during the process.

Customer communication is something we really want to shine at, and it’s nice when the client affirms some success for us in that area. Whether it is communicating by phone or email, we try to be prompt, polite, and reliable. And that applies to initial inquiries, job status reports for working cases, and post-repair follow up.

It just makes things work out better for everyone when the communication lines are open and working. Thanks for the feedback, Jon.

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Sporadic errors are the trickiest to troubleshoot.

A nice lady in Canada called us this spring, reporting an error when she opened her company snapshot….SOMETIMES. She needed her data file fixed so it wouldn’t do that anymore.

She uploaded her file to us. We could not reproduce the problem, but did address some minor issues in her file and did a deep rebuild on the file. We sent it back to her.

She called us the next day. The error was back. We hadn’t fixed it. Darn! But she wasn’t angry, she was pleased!

“I can wholeheartedly recommend AccountingUsers, Inc. They spoke to me on the phone, which was a nice touch, and it put me at ease. Unfortunately my file was one of the 5% that are not recoverable, but they did give it a heck of a try, and they got my file back to me quickly. My credit card was NOT charged (as promised), so you have nothing to lose with giving this company a try! I hope I never have a Quickbooks data problem again, but if I do, AccountingUsers will be the first call I make.”
— Christine Kok, Always On Call Ltd.

It turns out that her problem started when she had converted from QuickBooks 2011 to 2012. So she did some uninstalling and reinstalling, and restored her pre-converted backup. The problem went away. Not the best solution, but not a catastrophe either.

How do you feel about doing business with “satisfaction guaranteed” companies versus the “pay no matter what” kind?

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Special characters (like $^*%$& and such) have long been the bane of computer programs. And although programmers try to write their code to prevent special characters from messing up the program logic, things still slip through.

We just discovered a new variation on this theme in QuickBooks 2012, and it can mess up your accountant’s ability to access some of your QuickBooks data. It involves simply using an ampersand character (&) in your external accountant’s user name.

Adding an external accountant with an ampersand symbol
That ampersand symbol (&) is a problem

If you are setting up a user in QuickBooks as an external accountant and use an ampersand symbol (&) as part of the name, when you send the file to your accountant, they will have a problem.

They will be able to open the file fine. But if they try to do the Client Data Review, it will fail. No errors, no crashes. But when they click the command it will not launch.

If, on your side, you rename the external accountant user to something else that doesn’t have the ampersand symbol in it, it will be OK — your accountant will be able to do the Client Data Review with the next file you send them.

I tried some other accountant-specific functions when the ampersand was in place, and everything seemed OK. But I certainly didn’t test everything. I did test a few other special characters without encountering problems with the Client Data Review. It’s hard to say what the scope of the problem is without some serious testing.

The moral of the story is to NOT use special characters in your user names. I think it would be wise to not use special characters in ANY of your user names — external accountant or otherwise.

There are, of course, many other issues that can occur in a set of QuickBooks data that can prevent you making backups or accountant’s copies, and that require data repair.

Have you seen any instances of special characters causing problems in QuickBooks? Share your story.

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I spoke with a number of people last week who were experiencing problems with the condense feature in QuickBooks, particularly in the Enterprise 12 version.

The most disconcerting report I heard was of the condense command significantly changing the balances of accounts. Other reported problems are software crashes — when the condense command cannot complete — and also of not-significant-enough file reduction.

We’ve tested the new condense features in QuickBooks 2012, and have reproduced some of these issues, and other QuickBooks consultants I know have done likewise.

Our supercondense process, which is separate from the condense feature in QuickBooks, is an alternative to the built-in condense (or in older versions, clean up) commands.

How has the condense feature in QuickBooks worked out for you? Let us know in this super-quick survey.

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Sometimes it's best to just start overLaura Dion, one of our moderators at the QuickBooks Forums, responded to this forum question: What’s the easiest way to recreate a QuickBooks company that is an unreconciled, scrambled-eggs-mess of bookkeeping?

She describes here the steps to create a new company and bring in beginning-year balances and subsequent activity.

If the purpose of a potential file recreate is to deal with very large file size, then supercondensing the file is often the most cost-effective alternative.

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We interviewed a client, Beth Simons at Transmark, who had a large QuickBooks data file that we supercondensed for her. Here is her story:

AccountingUsers: Beth, thanks for talking with us. To get started, can you tell us a little about your company, and your role there?

Beth Simons: We consist of three companies: fuel transporters, logistics broker, and patent-pending upper coupler supplier. I am the accountant and office manager for all three.

AccountingUsers: What does your office use QuickBooks for?

Beth Simons: Having all three companies on QuickBooks Pro 2012, I use it for everything – from inventory in the upper coupler business to purchase orders for our vendors to estimates for our customers. It takes care of everything I need and has for 14 years!

AccountingUsers: What prompted you to contact us to get some help with your QuickBooks file?

Beth Simons: I receive a weekly newsletter from QuickBooks Expert Scott Gregory and his topic a few weeks ago hit me square in the face – “File Size Problems?” My fuel transportation company file was suffering from these problems: taking forever to run a report (one took six minutes!), random error messages causing QB to shut down on its own, and failure to backup properly. I found out the file size was 30% too large for QB to handle and one day it would crash and burn, making it impossible to open at all. Mr. Gregory highly recommended your service to help me out of this precarious situation.

AccountingUsers: What did you hope would result from getting your file supercondensed? Did you have any particular expectations?

Beth Simons: I wanted to be able to sleep at night again without the threat of my QB imploding! I wanted my QB to go back to the way it was years ago – fast, no errors, and seamless – I wanted it all.

AccountingUsers: So you uploaded your file to us to be supercondensed. What was the process like – the steps you took to send your file, the scheduling and turnaround, etc.?

Beth Simons: Your service took the time to explain every step of the process and what I could expect upon completion. I simply made a portable company file on Friday evening, uploaded it to your secure filebox and went home. I arrived in the office Monday morning and restored the new supercondensed file to my QB.

AccountingUsers: When you got your file back from us, what was it like? How did it perform?

Beth Simons: My QB was off and running – the report that took 6 minutes now ran in 40 seconds – amazing! My evening backups work every time now and no more error messages shutting my program down in the middle of my workday!

AccountingUsers: Anything else you’d like to share about your experience?

Beth Simons: I want to stress how important it is to keep an eye on your QB file size – just hit your F2 key to look at your data information. I spent one week researching all the different avenues of getting my file size back in control. The only real solution was that offered by your file-shrinking service. I cannot thank you enough!

AccountingUsers: Glad to help. Thanks for telling your story.

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