DIY: Repair a QuickBooks data file

Jack Wallen answers a TechRepublic member's question about a corrupt QuickBooks data file.

I was contacted by a reader who was in a panic over his QuickBooks data file. Here are the salient excerpts from his email:

"! My QuickBooks data file seems to have gone corrupt! I can log in, but it's behaving strangely locally and will not work over the network. What can I do about this? I do not have a backup of the datafile and, without this file, I cannot do business. Please help."

I really don't need to point out one very important, glaring issue with the above communication, do I? Okay, I will anyway.

No backup? Are you kidding? This is your livelihood. You should not only be backing this up, you should backing this up to an external drive, to a network drive, to an online service, and even a flash drive. That said, here's what you should do.

  1. Log in to the data file as the admin user.
  2. Set the data file in Single User Mode.
  3. Do a verify on the data by clicking File | Utilities | Verify Data.

Depending on the size of your data file, this could take some time. If this doesn't complete, you will need to do a rebuild of the data file. Even if this doesn't complete, you will probably want to do a rebuild. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Copy the data file from the server to a desktop machine that runs QuickBooks.
  2. Open the newly moved data file on the desktop it was copied to (you might have to enable hosting temporarily on that machine).
  3. Log in as the admin user.
  4. Click File | Utilities | Rebuild Data. You will be required to make a backup of the data file.

The rebuild process will take even longer than the verify process. It is crucial to let this process complete uninterrupted; I wouldn't even use the PC for anything while this is happening. After the rebuild is complete, do the following:

  1. Click File | Save Copy.
  2. Select Portable File.
  3. Save the portable file to the desktop of the PC.
  4. When the file is created, copy that portable file back to the server.
  5. Turn off hosting of the data file on the desktop.
  6. Open the data file by restoring from the portable file.
  7. Give the new data file a different name than the previous data file.

This should have you up and running with your data file. If it doesn't, you will need to contact Intuit and have them walk you through the process of submitting that data file for repair. It can be a minimum of three business days if Intuit has to repair the file, so hopefully, you can avoid that process.

And, if you do get this data file up and running, set up a backup strategy!

Ask Jack: If you have a DIY question, email it to me, and I'll do my best to answer it. (Read guidelines about submitting DIY questions.)


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


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I would first suggest to go though this blog for a 2nd opinion.


  As always Jack provides some great info that will resolve about 75% of these types of problems. I would only add that prior to taking any steps toward a do-it-yourself type repair that you take a few minutes and move a copy of your current .QBW and .TLG off of the host and onto some type of external storage device.  By doing this you ensure that should your recovery attempts fail you are always able to get back to square one. 

If the worst occurs and you are unable to repair your database by using the steps provided here, you may want to seek professional help. Intuit offers data repair services, but there are a couple services out there that are not affiliated with Intuit, are just as good at repairing Quickbooks files and in most cases will have a much faster turn around time. Any professional data repair company will request that you provide them with a copy of the data as it was when the failure occurred. 

Good luck and remember.... Back up, Back up, Back up... You never realize how critical this is until you lose data you can't afford to be without. 


Data Tech


Hello Jack, Why have you wait for three days or even one day to fix corruption in your QuickBooks files? A good news for all QuickBooks users that you can repair your corrupt or damaged files in just three simple clicks. Stellar data recovery has launched world's first QuickBooks file repair software for corrupt .qbw files. It is compatible with QuickBooks US, UK, Germany, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia versions. Full Software Desc @

Shannon Tucker
Shannon Tucker

Jack, there are third party database consulting firms (like mine, ha!) that can repair and turn around a damaged QuickBooks file faster than that, and with guaranteed success. Nobody really has to wait three days or more to get a resolution to something as mission-critical as their accounting data... That's a good sequence you provide for a DIY approach. Creating and restoring a portable copy recreates the internal indexes in the file, which can fix some data integrity issues. Thanks for the post.


The 'backup' advice is a no brainer, yet so many clients fail to do this simple preventative. Sincerely appreciate the step by step advice.

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