People restore QuickBooks backups for several reasons: to get rid of data errors or corruption in their current file, to bring a different computer up to date with the most current version of the data, or to recover from a computer crash.

A common question at restore time is “What should I name the restored file?”

You can restore it to its original name, or to something different.

If you restore to your original name, then if a copy of that file is already resident in your restore location, QuickBooks will ask you if you want to overwrite the existing file. It will make you confirm that decision, because it is an important one.

You see, once you overwrite an existing file with your backup, then the contents of the original file are gone for good. Even data recovery service companies, or so-called file recovery software cannot bring back the original contents once they have been overwritten.

That might sound a little scary, and I have talked to dozens of people over the years who have made a mistake in this process and accidentally overwritten their current data with old data. It’s a tough place to end up.

To avoid that, you can restore your company file and give it a new name. That name might include, for example, today’s date as part of the file name. That way, you are not overwriting what was there before, and it is clear what your restored file is.

But without a standardized name it is possible that you or some other QuickBooks user on your network might get confused later and open a different (and older) version of the company by mistake.

I’ve talked to a lot of people in that situation too; there was more than one copy of their data on their server, and somehow people started opening and using the wrong one and several weeks went by before they realized their mistake. That’s tough too…there’s no straightforward way to merge the two semi-current files together. (You can use third party software to do it, but it costs both time and money.)

You can avoid these potential problems by sticking with one file name and doing a bit of quick work in Windows before you restore your backup.

Your standardized file name can simply be your company name. You’ll always open and work in the file that has that name.

Create a folder under the main folder where you keep your data, and call it Old Copies. Before restoring a backup, make sure that everyone is out of QuickBooks. Then open up My Computer (or your network drive where your QuickBooks data resides) and click and drag your company data file to the Old Copies folder. (Your company data file will have a QBW file extension or file type.)

Then open the Old Copies folder and confirm that the file is there. Then rename your company file to include today’s date (e.g. MyCompany_march_21_2011.QBW)

At that point, your work is unambiguous — you’ve made clear by moving and renaming the file that this file is outdated and not to be used anymore. But it’s still available in case you ever need it.

Then you’re ready to restore. Open QuickBooks and restore your backup. Choose the normal drive and folder where you keep your data. Restore the file to the original, standard file name. It should NOT ask you if you want to overwrite an existing file, because you had already moved the previously used file elsewhere.

If it does prompt you about overwriting, something is wrong — cancel the restore and figure out what is going on before continuing.

With this method, you should be able to avoid potential points of confusion either during the restore process, or afterwards when people are using the file.

Remember watching TV when you were a kid? In the evenings, a public service announcement would come on, saying, “It’s 10:00 o’clock. Do you know where your children are?”

Well, on many a Friday night – late at night! – our team is busy working on QuickBooks data. It’s not because we are insomniacs. No, the motivation is to turn around data jobs as quickly as we can. It’s good for our clients to be up and running in QuickBooks again no later than the dawn’s early light of Monday morning.

We repaired some QuickBooks data last weekend for a gentleman named Larry Seltzer. I didn’t know at the time that he is a writer for many tech pubs and a contributing editor for PC Magazine. We got his data at 5:00 pm on a Friday afternoon, and returned his repaired file to him on Saturday. Then he wrote about his experience with us. I’m glad he was pleased with the results.

Our team is happy to work our tails off to minimize your QuickBooks downtime, whether it’s related to data recovery, supercondensing, edition downgrading, or recreating your QuickBooks file. It’s about your schedule, not ours.

Do you often burn the midnight oil to take care of your customers? (Now that it’s tax season, I’ll bet some of you CPAs are in that mode right now…)

We recently analyzed and supercondensed a large Enterprise 11 file for a client. Their problem was unusual – one we hadn’t heard of before. Their data’s TLG file was growing at 1.5GB (yes, gigabytes!) per day. And this wasn’t a high volume operation. The TLG’s stupendous growth was unexplainable.

We did remove some garbage records from the file and found and repaired some damaged templates. We also supercondensed it, bringing the QBW’s file size down. But these things did not eliminate the main problem – the exploding TLG file.

The customer reported that Intuit was aware of, and working on, the problem. We found out that a number of other Enterprise 11 users were experiencing the problem. But no one had an explanation.

Until…our client figured it out. He noticed that the new “Search” feature in Enterprise 11 automatically updates its searchable database every hour. He turned that feature off, and voila! The TLG file stopped growing at an abnormal pace.

Why? Nobody knows, except maybe some Intuit programmers who are troubleshooting this even now. It is not intuitively obvious why a search function would have anything to do with the transaction log file, unless with version 11 that file is now doing double-duty as a big search index file.

Bottomline: The end user discovered a workaround that the pros, including the data experts at my company and at Intuit tech support, apparently didn’t know about.

Three cheers for power users!

When my family camped in Yellowstone National Park last month, we were camping in bear country.

Yellowstone grizzly bear
A clover-eating grizzly I photographed on the shore of Lake Yellowstone

Unfortunately, there have been some bad bear incidents in Yellowstone this summer.

A friend of mine let me borrow his bear spray for our trip. Bear spray is like personal-defense pepper spray, except it’s grizzly bear strength. I took the spray and packed it when we were on remote trails.

A warning on the can’s label almost made me laugh: “Don’t intentionally provoke a bear”. I could just visualize some nut feeling confident with his can of bear spray and chasing a bear down in order to confront it, spray it, and earn some kind of moronic bragging rights.

To avoid bear problems, you are supposed to be careful to not leave food out, not to smell like food, not to surprise a bear, not to run away from a bear…the list goes on.

Bear spray is designed to be the last line of defense against bears.

My company provides data repair services for QuickBooks users, and those services could be considered the last line of defense against QuickBooks data problems. But they are not the only defense.

There are lots of things you can do to minimize the chance of having QuickBooks data problems in the first place:

  • Have battery backups on your server, your routers, and all your workstations
  • Have internet security software installed on all your computers
  • Keep Windows up to date on all your computers
  • Keep QuickBooks updated on your system
  • Use the same kind of networking equipment on all your workstations
  • Make regular backups to a location off of your server

If you do these things, you greatly minimize the chance of encountering data problems in QuickBooks in the first place. But we’ll be your bear spray if somehow it ever gets to that point.

Posted in IT.