There’s always a little excitement when you install your new version of QuickBooks. You’re eager to see what the new interface looks like, and check out some of the new reports and features. So if your data won’t upgrade, eagerness can turn into frustration.

Let’s back up a step. Normally, QuickBooks is designed to automatically convert your file to the new version simply by opening the file. Let’s say that you have been running QuickBooks Premier 2012 and you now install QuickBooks Premier 2013. Your data will automatically be updated to 2013 format just by opening your company data in the new version. The software will make you create a backup and tell you that your data will be irretrievably converted to 2013 format (you can’t go back). With your approval, QuickBooks converts your file to version 2013, and you’re good to go. That is the normal user experience.

But what if that doesn’t work?

RELATED: Case Study/Interview: QuickBooks Won’t Verify or Rebuild

Sometimes QuickBooks doesn’t encounter problems with a company file until it tries to upgrade it to a newer version. Some kinds of data problems don’t get exposed until all the information in the file has to be touched, which is what happens when you upgrade your file. If there is just one bad record buried down in the file, it can throw a wrench in the file upgrade process.

Only a small percentage of upgrading users encounter this. If it does happen to you, your file can be repaired and upgraded in almost all instances, and overnight turnaround is available. Here’s a comment from someone who experienced this:

We had a client with a corrupted QuickBooks file that wouldn’t upgrade to QuickBooks 2012 and had some other issues. We uploaded the file and a few days later had a working file. This is a great service when (not if) there are problems with QuickBooks data files.” — Scott Scharf, Catching Clouds LLC

Have you ever had any difficulty upgrading your file to a newer version? Tell your story.

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looking towards 2013I’m cautiously optimistic that when Enterprise 13 comes out, it will fix some of the problems that a number of people are finding in Enterprise Series 12. I’ve talked with a number of clients experiencing…

* Problems in inventory: their file will not verify or rebuild
* Problems in sales orders or estimates: they can’t verify the file or make verified backups
* Corruption in the user list: their file fails rebuild
* Failure when they try to condense their file: condense freezes or gives fatal errors

We can repair the vast majority of these files, but it ain’t easy sometimes. Some of these problematic files are 3GB+ or have a kazillion inventory items and/or lots of corrupt assemblies.

Some of the files that clients are sending us to be supercondensed won’t verify and/or rebuild when they are sent in. We have to repair them first to get them healthy enough to work with.

Seems to me that there shouldn’t be this many files with these kinds of problems. We’ve been in the accounting data consulting business for a long time — since the 80s — and have seen and repaired thousands and thousands of sets of damaged accounting data. But it’s been awhile since I’ve seen a version that has clustered so many data integrity issues, many more than we saw under ES 11 or 10. (Actually, old version 6 had a ton of problems too; that was the first version that used the new underlying database system.)

So I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a lucky Enterprise 13, and wishing the best for Intuit’s development and testing teams…

Other consultants and QuickBooks advisors, what do you think? Does ES 12’s stability seem about the same to you as prior versions? Or a bit more problematic?

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We spoke with Colleen Cravener of Cervis, Inc. about a recent data corruption problem she had with her QuickBooks file and how it was resolved.

AccountingUsers: Colleen, can you tell us a little about your company, and your role there?

Colleen: Cervis Inc. manufactures industrial radio remote controls for the mining industry, overhead crane industry and mobile industry. I am the Information System Specialist at Cervis.

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

Colleen: QuickBooks Enterprise 2012 – Manufacturing and Wholesale edition. QuickBooks is used for all accounting processes, and until a few weeks ago was used for years 2004 through 2012 for all inventory, build assemblies, and purchasing. We have since taken inventory and purchasing into Misys.

AccountingUsers: Please tell us what led up to you contacting us about your QuickBooks file. What was going on in QuickBooks?

Colleen: We could not get our QuickBooks file to verify or rebuild. Our file had damage/corruption. Cervis wanted to do a condense data and could not because of damage.

AccountingUsers: What was the process like in getting your file repaired…the steps you took to send your file, the scheduling and turnaround, etc.?

Colleen: All I did was call the 1-800 number and Shannon answered a few questions and immediately sent me a confidentiality agreement. Then I went to their website, filled out a form and paid by Paypal. At the end of Cervis’s business day on a Friday, I made a portable QuickBooks file, which took a long time to make because the file was damaged, and uploaded the file through their website. It was VERY easy! And it was about 9pm before AccountingUsers actually received the file. On Sunday I received an email stating the file was finished and I could pickup the file. Also, the file upload and download process is done via a SECURE connection!

AccountingUsers: How did your repaired QuickBooks file work for you when you got it back from us?

Colleen: First thing I noticed was increased performance. We have 20+ concurrent users, this was a HUGE plus. I had questions about our Profit and Loss numbers and Shannon immediately answered via email – his last email being after midnight! It is obvious that at AccountingUsers customer service is #1! And they know the product (QuickBooks).

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

Colleen: I am giving your company an A+ in the recovery of the QuickBooks file, the secure website file transfer and the GREAT customer service (EVEN AFTER THEIR JOB WAS REALLY FINISHED!!) Top notch!

AccountingUsers: Thanks for sharing your story, Colleen!

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pool planningQuickBooks® is a generic bookkeeping and accounting program, designed to be used by every type of business that you can imagine. If it was industry specific, well, it would have the same big price tag! Sure, Intuit makes a “Contractor” version, but even then it’s designed to meet the needs of every type of contractor – from the handyman to the bridge builder.

As a contractor, you know how important it is to have a plan or blueprint in your hands before you go to the construction site and begin work on the project. That way, you know what you are up against. This same principle applies to using QuickBooks Financial Software for your accounting, payroll and job costing needs.

Many QuickBooks users fall for the seductive marketing messages that boast “easy to set up, easy to learn to use” and fall prey to the myth of do-it-yourself accounting.  QuickBooks users aren’t the only ones who fall prey to this myth; so do accounting professionals.  As a matter of fact, recently I was asked by a QuickBooks ProAdvisor “What are the most common mistakes that you see happen when using QuickBooks for a construction business?”

Here is a list of common mistakes that I see:

  1. Outsourcing payroll
  2. Entering job costs using the Expenses and/or Accounts tab
  3. Thinking or believing that every contractor can/should use the exact same Chart of Accounts or Items List
  4. Not setting up Items to track both Expenses and Income
  5. Not using the built-in Estimate function or an estimating program that interfaces with QuickBooks.
  6. Creating a new QuickBooks file for each project/job
  7. Receiving customer payments incorrectly
  8. Not properly applying Vendor Credits to Bills.
  9. Not reconciling Bank or Credit Card accounts
  10. Not using the Ask My Accountant Chart of Accounts item for expenditures that are difficult to categorize.

The biggest mistake that I see is business owners (not just contractors) failing to hire someone who can help them to really learn how to use QuickBooks and utilize all the different functions that are available.

There are a lot of really great blogs and user forums, such as the forums here at the QuickbooksUsers Forums and the Intuit Community forums for getting help for free.  Keep in mind, when you ask a specific question, it’s difficult for the person answering to know whether or not they should be taking the bigger picture into consideration.  When you hire someone who is experienced in using QuickBooks in your industry, they can help you look at the entire plan.

Have a question about using QuickBooks in your commercial/government construction business?  Feel free to contact me.

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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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