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10 QuickBooks issues and how to resolve them

When something goes wrong with QuickBooks, the consequences can be pretty dire. Luckily, many common problems are easy to fix -- once you know about them.

QuickBooks is a crucial tool for businesses. It helps organizations manage their money, pay their employees, and pay their bills. But QuickBooks is also a fairly complex application. This complexity means that QuickBooks is prone to having problems.

I do a lot of work on QuickBooks and have gathered some of the common issues I deal with almost daily. These tips may help you solve those issues before you lose your hair or your money.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Updating the data file fails

This can be very tricky. When you are upgrading QuickBooks from one version to the next, sometimes the earlier version's data file can't be read by the newer version. Because of this, the data file must be updated. Usually this will happen during the installation process and will require you make a backup first. However, to avoid any issues with the data file, make sure you run a verification on that file before you uninstall the old version or install the new version. Better yet, install the new version side by side with the old version so you will always have a fallback.

2: Rebuilding the data file fails

Sometimes, that verified data still will not upgrade to the newer version. In this case, you will have to go back to the older version and do a rebuild of your data. For some users, this is an easy task. But when dealing with the file that holds the keys to the company's financial kingdom, others will hesitate. If you do find yourself in a situation where you have to rebuild the data, do it in this order: Back up your data file, verify your data file, rebuild your data file. If the rebuild simply won't work, you might want to make sure that data file is located on the local machine. QuickBooks is insistent that the data file be located on the C:\ drive. That means even if your data file is on the Q:\ drive (and that Q drive is on the local machine but shared, so QuickBooks THINKS it's on a different drive), QuickBooks could have an issue with the rebuild. So before the rebuild, copy the data file to the C:\ drive, do the rebuild, and move the data file back where you need it.

3: You lose the connection to the data file

This is probably the most common issue, as well as the most challenging to troubleshoot. QuickBooks is finicky about the network connection to the data file. If there is the slightest hiccup in the network, your connection can be lost. If you're sure QuickBooks is set up correctly, you might want to use the QuickBooks Connection Diagnostic Tool to help you figure out what's going wrong. Also, make sure your firewall and your antivirus are allowing the connection through.

4: The reinstall fails

If you need to reinstall QuickBooks, there is a little something you might not hear about from Intuit: The clean uninstall. Before you do your reinstall, go ahead and uninstall using the standard Windows uninstall methods -- but then go back and delete the C:\Program Files\Intuit\QuickBooksXXX directory (where XXX is the release number), as well as the C:\Windows\Users\Documents And Settings\Program Data\Intuit\QuickBooksXXX directories (again, where XXX is the release number). As with any time you are dealing with QuickBooks, BACK UP YOUR DATA FIRST!

5: QuickBooks run slowly in multi-user mode

This one is tricky because there can be a number of issues (as with any slowdown). If you have ruled out hardware, you might be facing issues in your data file. The fastest route to solving this is to use the Clean Up Company Data tool found in File | Utilities. If this doesn't give you much of a speed boost, you can always turn off the Audit Trail feature.

6: QuickBooks client machine can't locate the data file on the server

The first thing to do here is to make sure that the Server Manager is installed on the server machine and that it's running. If that doesn't work, map the drive to the server from the client and try to connect that way. Most likely, if you can see the server from the client, the issue is that the Server Manager is not running.

7: You can't find the licensing information

If you've lost your documentation and can't find your license/product numbers, you can always locate them by hitting either [F2] or [Ctrl]1 when QuickBooks is open (and you're logged into your data file). But you can't find your validation code. If you have to reinstall, you'll have to re-register (unless you wrote that validation code down... HINT HINT!).

8: A new printer won't print

This one is simple but still flummoxes users all the time:

  1. Close QuickBooks.
  2. Search for the file qbprint.qbp.
  3. Rename qbprint.qbp to qbprint.qbp.old.
  4. Restart QuickBooks and printing should work.

9: You've lost the admin password

Shame on you for losing your admin password. It does happen, though. Or maybe you're a new administrator coming into a tricky situation where the old admin didn't leave the password. Fear not; you can recover that password by using the QuickBooks Automated Password Reset Tool. It's not 100 percent foolproof, but it works most times.

10: You can't copy or move the QuickBooks data file

Have you ever tried to copy that QuickBooks data file from your hard drive to a removable drive (for backup or migration purposes), only to find out the file is locked? This is a simple one. QuickBooks Server Manager and Directory Monitor have that file locked down. Close out QuickBooks, click Start | Run, enter services.msc, look for the QuickBooks services, and stop those two. Once the services are stopped, you should be able to copy and paste that file.

More tips?

These 10 quick tips will make your QuickBooks administrative life much easier. Have you come across a QuickBooks tip you're dying to share? If so, tell your fellow TechRepublic members about it.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

45 comments
freewriterguy
freewriterguy

Quick books does not work well for small business.  Stay far away from it,  It cannot even open each day, and today after finally "restoring" my company, an hour later, I tried to print something and it said my company was lost again.  I have been using quick books regrettably now for over 5 years and even with the updates, its the same old problem.  another example is that it keeps changing my default printer from my HP PRO to one called adobe printer, which doesn't even exists.  this messes up our printing capabilities for my entire family.  this one problem alone I have called and complained about for at least 5 years.  and it just did it again this past month.  (Even paintshop is a better program than quick books, it always finds the printer, and actually works. 

rickjones077
rickjones077

I really appreciate Jack’s effort in jotting down the solutions to most common QuickBooks problems in such simple steps. Imlande, now Real Time Cloud Services, LLC is also offering QuickBooks support and more than 90% of clients are quite satisfied with RTCS services. You may check it out or call ( 888) 408-6044. http://www.myrealdata.com/quickbooks-support.html

lmlande
lmlande

QuickBooks support service being so bad, please suggest a good one. Thanks.

grunze
grunze

2008 Pro: One continuing issue. Had intermittent problems with backing up and data integrity but ever since adding PayPal the majority of the time it gives the very smug "didn't back up" message and nothing else. Both QB and PP point the finger at each other. Restarts and reboots haven't helped. Sometimes for no apparent reason the backup works maybe one to three times and then stops for the next many times.

ebaker
ebaker

I am a CPA and an IT person. I have been through QuickBooks's Certified pro advisor training also. These items are on the website if you ask the proper questions. QuickBooks work great for small businesses if you take the time to learn some basis accounting fundamentals and follow the guidance provided.

elmerterry
elmerterry

I use Gmail but with Quickbooks I have to use Outlook or Quicksbooks email program. Anyone know how to get Quickbooks to send directly through Gmail instead of Outlook?

KC at 2nd Site
KC at 2nd Site

Having supported QuickBooks for many years I found this article mostly accurate but here are some additional tips. RE: #1 - you must ALWAYS update a QB data file when upgrading from one version to another and rarely does it fail unless the data file is already corrupt. Data corruption is discovered by the using back up feature and the verify data feature which are set by default to execute, if the user would just pay attention and run the backup when reminded. The other cause of failure is waiting too long to upgrade, like upgrading from QB 2000 to QB 2010. RE: #2 - Rebuild failure indicates corrupted data. It can be fixed by a skilled QuickBooks ProAdvisor who knows how to read the QBwin.log file and use that information to locate and correct the corrupted transactions, which needs to be done in a fairly specific manner, not just willy nilly. RE:#3 & #6 - losing connection to the data file or failing to locate the data file is also caused in a network environment when a client workstation is changed from client mode to host mode. The client PC should show a menu path in QB of File/Utilities/Host Multi-User Access which means it is currently NOT hosting. Also, if a *.nd file for the shared QB workfile exists on the client PC, delete it. It's telling the program that this PC wants to be the host, and the program will become confused. RE: #5 - DON'T use the CLEAN UP THE DATA feature unless you truly understand the repercussions. Always create a full working copy of the data file by restoring a new backup under a new file name before using the clean up feature, don't just make the backup and assume it's restorable. You can't turn off the audit trail in recent QB versions because too many users turned it off in order to commit embezzlement. Intuit got tired of the complaints and turned the feature on permanantly. RE: #2 & #5: Another strategy for creating a faster or more stable file is to create a portable file, then immediately restore the portable file. (see the option under backup menu) The portable file dumps all linkage and recreates the links during the restoration so if the original file was corrupted because of broken transaction links, voila, new file with fully functional stable links, and it's probably less framented than the original file, too. Final tip: I know IT people hate to see software programs on the server, but trust me, when something goes wrong with QuickBooks on a network, it should be fixed from within the QkBks program on the server, not from a workstation. So install the FULL program on the server in the first place because some of the single-user program functions that can fix problems don't work correctly across a network, especially if you've put the data file on a mapped drive. Never backup QuickBooks across a network and never assume that a copy of the QuickBooks data file (*.QBW) is as good as a backup (*.QBB) file.

bit_flores
bit_flores

My version of Quickbooks 2002 just crash one day out of the blue when I launched the app on my laptop. I uninstalled and deleted all referenced files and folders that I could find. I reinstalled but the problem still exists. The app opens, but crashes as soon as I load any company file, including the sample company file. Anyone else have this problem?

sammy.mah
sammy.mah

In Computer managment, Windows Logs, Application, i get the error 4 times from QB2010 everytime it is started: An unexpected error has occured in "QuickBooks": Returning NULL QBWinInstance Handle Event ID=4 I've got this happening on QB2010 on XP, Vista, W7 systems, in single user mode and multi-user mode.

klmazza
klmazza

I'd love to know if you've discovered a solution for the printer problem with QBs version 2009 after upgrading to Windows 7. I've tried everything on QBs' site and on MS forums. Error message when trying to email an invoice or sales receipt. So, have to Print > Save as PDF and then send as attachment. Thanks!

derek
derek

finally, the 'dark' secrets comes to light!

neibaur
neibaur

Add "Dont use mapped drives on Window's 7 or Windows Server products" We found that users with drive letter mapping to the server share would not function correctly for Quickbooks in multi-user mode. Once we removed the drive letter mapping, the Windows server could host the QB data files

treese
treese

We have a small business and use Quicken deluxe after Msoft discontinued Money and the local banks stopped their support. Quicken is just as problematic and their fixes don't always work. We had a problem after changing the date on our computer so that a expired cartridge would work in the HP printer. That wiped out our quicken files and it took a while to figure it out. The fixes offered by quicken did not work but changing the date back did. I cannot get the program to accept savings entries into one account that was converted from money files. Once entered, the program changes the data. Another problem is direct downloads, but Imports (2 step downloads) work fine. There's more but my time is limited. Ed

derek.harlan
derek.harlan

Turning off the audit trail from an IT standpoint might seem like a solution to improving speed, but from an accounting standpoint and more specifically an internal control standpoint, it's inadvisable, as you lose the ability to monitor what transactions have changed, or were created by whom. In other words it introduces a security hole in your accounting system.

john
john

I haven't upgraded since I bought QuickBooks in 2003 so I don't have any problems at all. I run the whole thing in a virtual machine which I plan to never update either. I don't care what Microsoft or Quickbooks try to sell me - it works so I will leave well alone. For me that's one of the great things about VMware, once a system is working it can lock it in space & time. There's no need to jump on the expensive software update merry-go-round. My QuickBooks is nearly 10 years old and running better than ever on my brand new iMac - what more could I want?

bsaberin
bsaberin

I cannot help but mention all of these problems are solved with quickbooks online. I realize putting one's accounting system in te cloud isn't for everyone, but after years of supporting QB I was primed for an alternative when QBO was released a few years back. After trying it with a few charities and non-profits I recommended to a few small companies. I was so impressed that when I launched my own firm last year I opted for the online offering. It more expensive over time, but the piece of mind and ease of use is worth it. Intuit rolls out new features in response to requests every few days, and support has been solid.

techrepublic
techrepublic

I resolved all my quickbook issues by using another product. I know it's a lame excuse but you reach a point where the cost, in terms of product purchase and time spent fixing it, was out-weighed by moving to a far simplar product. I move to Solar Account and whilst limited provided my with everything I need for running my small business. http://www.solaraccounts.co.uk/offer/N2NS4005

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

(Tag.. first post!) Gah.. couldn't have gotten this posted a week ago? I kid. We actually learned issue number two a week ago with a datafile rebuild that didn't go cleanly until we moved the file back to the local hard drive. I'd also add; use the backup function. Your data file may be backed up through normal server processes but no reason not to keep one or two QuickBooks backups close to your active file.

terradon
terradon

I have seen this event repeatedly since QB 2008 in Vista and W7 on 4 different machines all standalone, single-user installs. Intuit has always maintained that this isn't really a problem and it can be "safely ignored". But, there are numerous other errors that are frequently logged that don't seem very innocent. I see many errors that the tlg file can't be removed because it is still open. There are numerous errors related to the DBManager. A HandleDMError is but one example. Others include a failure to start the database server. The program often crashes immediately after posting Merchant Services deposits. If I have the time, I have tried to report these "bugs". But, that has become nearly impossible. Eventually you have to talk to tech support, but only after agreeing to pay for the support call. Even my ProAdvisor had to call first, talk to a tech and then patch me into a 3 way conference. The tech finally documented the bug, but it was a frustrating 1 1/2 hour call. One that would have been handled more completely and efficiently had I been able to send an electronic form and maybe a follow-up to attach some requested log or file.

asics447
asics447

I recently had issues with QB 2010 - upgraded from QB2005 and went to there knowlwedge base/forums and found out what I needed to know - the QB Connection Diagnostic Tool was very useful - I had intrnal Firewall and AV issues - fixed and repaired.

charleswdavis6670
charleswdavis6670

QuickBooks for company accounting and Quicken for personal finance.

Rathion
Rathion

if you are going to clean up the company file, be sure to save an archived file that is not "cleaned up". This process deletes transactions and summerizes them in a journal entry instead. You will lose your ability to view a specific invoice or other transactions. If you have had your books a long time, this helps a bit, but sometimes not enough. QuickBooks database was improved at the end of 09 but it's too late for previous editions. You may want to consider archiving the current file, export/import your lists and then start with a clean balance sheet (preferably as of the end of the year or last quarter).

SgtPappy
SgtPappy

Just thought that would be nice to have with a 7 year old product.

oldguardreindeer-techrepublic
oldguardreindeer-techrepublic

oh hi So MS Money is "going away" oh no what shall I do. I still don't know...but I'm quite sure it won't be QB. Thanks for the article and all the comments. I was doubtful about switching to QB and this has decided it for me. No no no QB.

SmartAceW0LF
SmartAceW0LF

If Intuit can be trusted in their diagnosis of a problem I recently encountered, watch that the company file doesn't swell to much over 100M.

thezar
thezar

My main problem is that Goto can't continue through the start point. If I am at a check for an account and click Goto it has the window filled out. If I go to newer checks, it finds them, but if I then start towards the older ones it can't continue straight as when it gets to my starting point it wants to jump to the first entry. It's just stupid.

skyeenter
skyeenter

QB is the biggest pile of bloat ware being forced on it's abused users. Do not make the mistake of using any QB product. Once you do you're locked into the grips of a company that beats it customers into submission a minimum of every three years into an upgrade. As you continue to sink deeper and deeper into their quagmire, and the company knows this, you cannot/will not switch to another program, as the data is so critical to any biz operation. QB owns 96% of the small business accounting software market. Intuit forces an upgrade every three years. Let's be realistic, the core product hasn't changed much since the early 2000's. So why am I forced to upgrade so I now can have International currency conversions in the latest edition. I don't use International currency in my 1 person office. How did they get me to upgrade? By no longer supporting my Merchant Account services. That means no credit card processing or automatic bank deposits. Last years upgrade cost me an additional $360 dollars. I had a password problem, to speak with tech support I had to pay their mandatory $39 service charge, which the company then waived. Well someone in their call center in India failed to uncheck the recurring monthly enrollment box. So QB just merrily extorted a years worth of monthly fees from me. Once I caught it I raised holy hell and the best they would do was refund four months of charges. This is not a company that is customer friendly. A call for help automatically is picked up by a call center in India. That's like trying to have a serious conversation in a football stadium. Once, one of my calls resulted in being routed to a very nice woman CSR who tried to help. The best she could do was to read the help screens that were the same as I was reading. She asked a question, would put me on hold and as she recited I read verbatim the same help screen on my monitor. After about 45 minutes I asked if she thought she was making some headway as were really only on the same page all the time. She said she was from their corporate division, but that it was slow there, so they were routing calls from small business to her. She said she was not familiar with the QB product I was using. Which is how we ended up reading from the same help menus. If I knew then what I know now I never would have selected QB as my accounting software. While I like the product the company is one of the worst abusers of it's existing customers. They know they have a monopoly on the market, and just don't give a crap about it users. Oh, sure, they'll give the pretension of making improvements in the programs for you the customer, but it comes at a cost. The forced upgrade every three years. I would never recommend letting QB get their hooks in your companies financials. The risks are too high for such a critical part of your business. I've seen it all too often, excited new biz owners rush into Best Buy to get a copy of QB as their accounting software, 'cause it's wound into their brain that QB is the best around. It's only later, now that the numbers are locked in to QB, that they realize the mistake they made. Oh, well, muddle on. Yes master, I will submit to upgrade every three years. Yes, master, I will submit to upgrade every three years. Yes master, I will submit to upgrade every three years. Yes master, I will submit to upgrade every three years. Yes master, I will submit to upgrade every three years. Yes, master, I will submit to upgrade every three years. Yes master, I will submit to upgrade every three years. Yes master, I will submit to upgrade every three years.

Rathion
Rathion

It's so easy to spot a flaw in recommendations, but I did want to say that for most users that have no QuickBooks training, you did a great job of handeling some of the key issues.

john
john

I don't know how it's done in the US but here in the UK I fill the Tax Return on line and just copy in values taken from the Profit & Loss standard report. It's no big deal but then my business isn't complicated.

charleswdavis6670
charleswdavis6670

First, Money is similar to Quicken, not QuickBooks which is for keeping the books of a company. Second, if you take a look at the complaints, none have taken the time to ask on the QuickBooks Community forums.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

A MYOB Help Desk person told a client to delete their old Data & Backup Files when they got a new version of MYOB installed. Didn't matter that they messed up converting to the new Program and when they went to recover from a Backup there was nothing there. Never had that problem with QB but you just have to love the Help Desk Staff I wonder who wrote that junk as it's down right dangerous. I had to find a old Backup recover from that and then get the client to reenter 3 weeks Data as that was the newest Backup that survived the Advice from the Help Desk. It could have been much worse if she had of managed to delete all of the files not just the ones on the External Drive. Col

john
john

I consider myself very lucky not to have upgraded from my basic QuickBooks 2003 version. In those days you actually owned the software and could use it for whatever you liked, for as long as you wanted. And now that I have it running in a virtual machine on my Mac you have no idea how comforting that is. No more recurring nightmares about moving the company's entire records to a new system!

onthego
onthego

For the single user, small business, why not try other software. I've been kicking the tires of GNU Cash and like what I see. It will cover what I need it to do. The price is definitely right. It runs on Windows, OSX as well as the original port on Linux. For me that looks to be the best fix for Intuit accounting software woes.

Baruch Atta
Baruch Atta

Yes, I agree. Quickbooks must be the absolutly worst software on the planet. If you are a 40 hour a week, 50 weeks a year bookkeeper, then yes, you would be able to figure out how to do what you need to do, and do it. But if you are running a small business, then you would need hours and hours of your precious time to just handle the bookkeeping. And after all that, it really DOES NOT DO what you need it to do.

terradon
terradon

I'm guessing that you didn't fully read my complaint. I've asked in the forums, called tech support, asked my certified pro advisor who had the same lengthy process of getting through layers of tech support to finally connect me in a 3 way conference with one of the primary support leaders. QB has been throwing event 4 errors in the event viewer for Vista and now Win7 since at least QB2009. Most are due to returning a NULL QBWinInstance Handle. Recently, the tlg file fails to be removed when quitting the program. I'll have a sequence of NULL QBWinInstance Handles followed immediately by an Unexpected empty payment txn data element encountered which causes a QB crash. I see this on 3 different systems, both Vista and Win7, QB Premier 2009 and now 2010. So, while your assessment may be correct for some, you've made a dismissive generalization that is as insulting as it is inaccurate.

skyeenter
skyeenter

Some how this message is not getting through to you. The product, even with it's limitations addressed by the article, is not the problem. Intuit's abuse of it's users is the problem.

charleswdavis6670
charleswdavis6670

"...And after all that, it really DOES NOT DO what you need it to do...." What doesn't it do?

skyeenter
skyeenter

Yo, reread my post. It's not about the software, it about Intuit. With the lock they have on their customers they don't have to be nimble or responsive. No competition breeds contempt. In this the company only has one place to be contemptuous; their customers.

charleswdavis6670
charleswdavis6670

For the past 14 years, I have used QuickBooks. I have done the accounting for my own business (custom cabinets) maintaining , was a volunteer for a non-profit senior center, with employees, and during the past 10 years a volunteer for a 501 (c) (3) charity, 4 years as the corporate treasurer for 4 for-profit corporations. I still have time to clean up 6 to 8 computers per week for our local computer club's member. I have also answered 2,671 questions on the QuickBooks community forum. Were you simply looking to vent? What does it NOT do that you want (need) it to do?

ttripolt
ttripolt

Right on. Year after year they come out with a new version but its still the same old cluncker with minor improvements. My new 2010 version did not install right and I had to pay for tech support to get it working... This is Intuit Inc.... Forget it!