Here are the top five most-viewed topics on the QuickBooks Forums over the last two weeks, each being viewed hundreds of times:

1. Print Your Own Deposit Slip. This topic was posted originally in 2009 and has been well-viewed ever since. People spend over three minutes on this page, on average.

2. How to calculate commission. This topic was originally posted in 2005 and has been responded to periodically since. People also spend 3+ minutes on this page on average.

3. Customer Prepayments/Deposits. This topic was originally posted in the QuickBooks FAQ section by Lisa Peterson, one of our forum moderators. It has had Q&A replies ever since, and people spend almost 7 minutes on this page, on average.

4. Error: “3371 QuickBooks could not load the license data.” This topic was originally posted in 2007, and I’m a bit surprised that it still gets so many views — I would have thought that this issue would have been resolved in later releases of QuickBooks. Over 4 minutes view time per visitor on average.

5. Cash Basis in Account receivable. Another venerable QuickBooks FAQ thread posted a long time ago, with Q&A ever since. Originally posted by one of our forum heroes, Joe Williams, a retired QuickBooks senior support rep.

AccountingWEB came out with their list of June’s Top 10 QuickBooks Tech Support Questions and Answers, by Intuit’s Amy Vetter, CPA.

I thought it was interesting how three of the top ten had to do with QuickBooks software registration issues, of which I have written before. More of a customer service issue than a true technical issue, perhaps.

Two of the top ten had to do with payroll issues, one of which had to do with adding a new EIN to an existing payroll subscription.

Three had to do with installation issues.

Only one had to do troubleshooting networking problems, and one with password problems.

Bottomline? Most of the top ten support issues have to do with installing or registering QuickBooks or a QuickBooks-related service.

quickbooks goes to sleep
What if QuickBooks takes a nap?

Has this happened to you? I’m guessing you’ve seen it before: You’re trying to update your company, or make a backup, or verify your company, or run a big report.

QuickBooks gets off to a good start, but then seems to stall. You make a couple of clicks and Windows pipes up: “(Not Responding)”. Oh, great.

What do you do then?

Sometimes users panic, and Ctrl-Alt-Delete / Task Manager / End Task their way out of QuickBooks. That’s not a very good choice, because if you force the application closed, there’s a good chance that your data file won’t get closed down like it’s supposed to.

I guess an even worse choice, for those who maybe don’t know about Task Manager, is to turn off the computer. “Reach for the big red handle”, as we used to say in the old days. That’s not good either.

Either of these actions has a high likelihood of causing data corruption, meaning that your next step after that would be to restore a backup and rekey to get caught back up, or get your data repaired.

INTERVIEW/CASE STUDY: QuickBooks Won’t Verify or Rebuild

So what to do? Most of the time, the best approach is both the hardest and easiest: just wait.

A lot of times, QuickBooks isn’t really “frozen” or “locked up”; it’s just “thinking”. Give it some time, particularly if you are trying to do something in QuickBooks that is systematic: backing up, restoring, verifying, rebuilding, resorting, etc. Those functions in QuickBooks have to touch a lot of your data, which might amount to millions of pieces of information.

That can take some time. I don’t know why QuickBooks doesn’t have a more elegant, less stress-inducing way of communicating that to users. I never like to see Windows intervene in an application. I want my QuickBooks to respond, not to not respond!

So if you see QuickBooks do that, maybe that’s your cue to take a break. Go outside and get some sunshine, or go to your nearest coffee bar and get caffeinated. Hopefully QuickBooks will be ready to go again by the time you get back to your workstation.

TIP: How to Open QuickBooks When It Won’t Open

Then, for the future, here are some things that might help it from having to take so many naps:

* Close some of your open windows, in QuickBooks and in Windows itself.
* Reduce your file’s size
* Configure your internet security software settings so that it ignores your QuickBooks folder
* Rebuild your file to make sure that there is no data corruption in it
* Defragment your hard drive so that QuickBooks will be able to access everything as quickly as possible
* If you are using Enterprise 11, turn off the Search feature (Edit / Preferences / Search / Company Preferences / Uncheck “Update automatically”.) Then backup your data with full verify turned on. This will blank out the TLG file (which might be huge), and relieve QuickBooks of having to constantly update its search index on the fly.
* Create and then restore a portable copy backup of your file. This will reindex your file and probably enhance performance — at least temporarily — of a large file.

Have you seen the (Not Responding) message? What did you do about it?

If you run a pretty recent version of QuickBooks, you know about “Live Community” — the connection point between QuickBooks and the Intuit Community. That’s a great support resource.

But it’s not the only resource.

The QuickBooks Forums is the largest independent (non-Intuit) community of QuickBooks users and experts.

There are about 50,000 members, and membership is free. The forum is frequented by QuickBooks experts like retired Intuit senior support rep Joe Williams, as well as several Certified Advanced QuickBooks Pro Advisors, and regular users who have tons of day-to-day experience with QuickBooks.

Check it out! There are subforums for various editions of QuickBooks, and special discussion areas for users in the UK, Australia, and Canada.

The QuickBooks Jobs and the QuickBooks Local Workshops sections help you connect with employment and training opportunities.

See you there!

Have you ever seen the classic 1968 short film, Powers of Ten? It’s an amazing demonstration of the power of adding zeros, one at a time. I love it. Check it out:

Somehow it reminds me a bit of QuickBooks files. The power of adding a zero, you see.

With your company file open in QuickBooks, press the F2 key. It will tell you, in the left column, how big your file size is. It expresses it in kilobytes (KB): thousands of bytes. A byte is a single character of information in a digital file.

A medium-sized QuickBooks Pro file might have 80,000KB of information, or 80 million bytes. We usually notate that as 80MB, or call it 80 megabytes. That sounds like a lot of bytes, but it’s not for a QuickBooks file.

Add a zero. That would make for a file of 800 megabytes. Now that’s an oversized file, bursting at the seams, if you are using QuickBooks Pro or Premier. A file of that size in Pro or Premier would likely be having performance and/or stability problems and would be a great candidate for supercondensing. An 800MB file would not be uncommon for Enterprise, though.

Add another zero. Now your file is 8,000,000,000 bytes big – 8 gigabytes. That’s a huge file, even for Enterprise. We have repaired or supercondensed a handful of files like that before. 8GB is about the biggest we’ve seen.

Until now. A user is planning to send us a file with another zero added, and then some: a file of 88 gigabytes, by far the largest QuickBooks file we’ve ever personally worked with. Is it the biggest QuickBooks file in the world? I’ve never heard of a bigger one. Have you?

Now this file is not a QBW file; it’s a TLG file – an auxiliary data file that QuickBooks maintains along with the main QBW file. We will use it to repair his damaged QBW file. Still, for QuickBooks to maintain any file that big is stupendous, and again reminds me of Powers of Ten.

Have you ever had a QuickBooks problem where all the normal troubleshooting techniques don’t work?

Maybe your computer got infected with a virus or a trojan program. You got that cleaned up and you reinstalled QuickBooks. But now QuickBooks just won’t launch, or it’s operating at a snail’s pace, or something that used to work just fine now won’t work.

You might get the wonderful error, “QuickBooks has experienced a problem and needs to be shut down. Error ….” or “Unrecoverable error …”.

If the relationship between QuickBooks and Windows gets messed up, QuickBooks will be messed up. If something alters or corrupts your Windows registry settings for QuickBooks, just uninstalling/reinstalling QuickBooks often won’t help.

[NOTE: This has nothing to do with registering your installation of QuickBooks with Intuit, by the way.]

Here’s a tool you can use that might help, and it’s already right there on your computer. The REBOOT.BAT file gives you a one-click way to re-register your QuickBooks program files to the Windows registry.

QuickBooks reboot file
When reinstalling doesn't help...

The REBOOT.BAT file (sometimes seen as just REBOOT in your Windows folder view) can be located simply by right-clicking your QuickBooks icon on your computer’s desktop.

If a menu item then appears saying “Open file location”, click that and it will take you to the folder where REBOOT.BAT lives. If you don’t see “Open file location”, click instead on “Properties” and under the Shortcut tab, look at “Target”. Don’t change the contents of “Target”, but make a note of the path it specifies. Then open My Computer and open the folders to drill down to that location on your computer.

Then double-click REBOOT.BAT (or REBOOT) and your QuickBooks program files will be re-registered to Windows. You’ll see a command prompt-style window open and a number of commands execute. When I ran this on my computer, one of the commands took several seconds to complete. Be patient. When it runs through all the commands, the window will automatically close. Your computer will NOT reboot (I think this command is badly named.)

Then run QuickBooks again and see if REBOOT has cleared up your problem.

NOTE: This troubleshooting tip won’t help solve company data file problems in QuickBooks. Data corruption issues have to be handled in a different way.

If you want help while using QuickBooks, you’ve got some pretty good built-in resources:

* Context-sensitive help. Wherever you are in QuickBooks, you can press the F1 key to bring up a side panel of help for the QuickBooks function you are in. On entry screens, there is usually a Help button you can click that brings up the same side panel help.

* If you don’t know how to do something in QuickBooks (or how to get to the right screen), click Help on the top menu, and then click QuickBooks Help. Then click the Search tab. Enter the topic you need help on and click the right-arrow that serves as Enter. It will bring up a list of topics related to your search word(s). Click the topic that looks closest, and QuickBooks will display help content in the sidebar.

If you need “big picture” type help, you can click Help / Learning Center Tutorials. This pulls up a window with built-in video tutorials on various sections of QuickBooks (e.g. Payroll, Inventory, etc.) Here’s what the beginning of the “paying employees” tutorial looks like:

This is the beginning of the "Paying Employees" tutorial

Each tutorial video is several minutes long and has standard video controls for pausing, fast forwarding, and volume.

If you need help beyond what is built into QuickBooks’ internal help system or tutorials, you can access free online help at the Intuit Live Community or the independent QuickBooks Forums. For live help (fee based), call 1-800-999-9209.

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…)

This happens to some QuickBooks users: When they open the program, they get an Internet Explorer dialog box that opens up in QuickBooks (not in IE) and asks “Do you want to view only the webpage content that was delivered securely?”

You have to say NO several times before QuickBooks will finish loading up. What’s that about? It is an annoyance.

If you are getting these prompts, here’s the workaround:

Open up Internet Explorer (even if IE is not your default browser).

Click Tools / Internet Options / Security / Custom Level.

Scroll down to the Miscellaneous section. For “Display Mixed Content”, click the Enable radio button. OK your changes.

The next time you open QuickBooks, voila! No nagging message from Internet Explorer in QuickBooks.

Joe Williams, of Piedmont, OK, is one of the biggest voices on the QuickBooks Forums. He just posted his 6,000th answer on the forums, and there is a reason why he knows so much about QuickBooks: He was a veteran QuickBooks support rep for Intuit.

Me: Joe, thanks for talking with us today. You have an interesting background, having worked for Intuit — supporting QuickBooks — for quite a few years. What can you tell us about that? What kind of support were you involved with?

Joe: I started in 1990 supporting Turbo Tax for DOS, both the personal 1040 and the business PRO Tax. Then, after tax season, I started supporting QuickBooks DOS 1.0 and 2.0 with the great payroll add on Quick Pay that worked most of the time. I migrated to the Windows version 3.0 of QuickBooks and was part of the first support team for the integrated payroll in version 4.1.

Me: Joe, I suppose you have talked to thousands or tens of thousands of QuickBooks users over the years. What were some of the common problems you saw over and over again?

Joe: The most common problem was “My account disappeared”, caused when “creating a new account”. It was usually caused by clicking Edit instead of New and then changing the account type and name. The most difficult thing was explaining to a CPA that QuickBooks CANNOT make a one sided journal entry, even if it “just a program”.

Me: When your job is helping people, strange things happen from time to time. Do you remember any notably humorous or strange conversations you had with users?

Joe: Two of the most remembered ones:

1. A secretary was handed QuickBooks and told to install it and start using it. She called in tears because she could not get it installed and could not find the PC. The support tech finally got it installed. She had the computer on the desk but it did not have a drive door. On the desk was also a TV and on the floor was some other box.

2. A customer called with a network connection issue and data damage. We got the damage cleared up and the connection fixed. As we were closing the call, there was a loud yell “Oh my G..”.

When asked what happened, he answered, “Well, my partner’s office is across the alley on the 2nd floor. I turned the BNC connector to lock it and the trash truck just came by and the PC flew out the window”.

Me: Wow. Everybody must have been surprised by that one.

Joe, you’ve seen QuickBooks evolve over the years. What trends have you seen? Where do you think QuickBooks is heading as a product?

Joe: I have seen it become more graphics-oriented and organized into the different centers. I will say that I still use the menu bar and control keys to get what I want to see and find.

Me: You’ve posted 6,000 answers on our QuickBooks Forums. That’s an amazing accomplishment and represents a tremendous amount of help for QuickBooks users. Thank you! It’s a pleasure having you in our community. Any final thoughts or words for your fellow forum members?

Joe: 1. Keep up the good work and remember “Use QuickBooks like you would do the books manually.” If you get a notice (bill) and then immediately pay it just use a check.

2. No, Intuit has not created the Kreskin version of QuickBooks yet.

Get free expert QuickBooks help from Joe Williams and others at the QuickBooks Forums.