After Hours

10 flawed products that are really bad

Quickbooks

When QuickBooks accounting software works, it's great. But it's when it doesn't that things become nightmarish. Few pieces of software are so fussy about their network connection. The slightest hiccup can cause QuickBooks to throw in the towel and when that happens bad things can follow — such as the loss of valuable data. The biggest problem with QuickBooks is that when it breaks, sometimes the only resolution is to reinstall it. But even in the reinstalling, things can go wrong. TechRepublic's Jack Wallen takes a look at software you might want to avoid.

Quickbooks

The creators of some pieces technology need to be told that their products just don't measure up on some fundamental level. Here's some technology that I consider to be flawed.

Image credit: Intuit

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.

57 comments
Computer Dave
Computer Dave

Really? That's some great advice you're handing out there. Step out into the real world of IT and see how far you get with that. As for flaws, "professional writers" who live in glass houses... Many of your little diatribes have glaring typos in them. Perhaps you should put your own house in order 1st.

Darren B - KC
Darren B - KC

If you're going to put IE 9 on this list, then you should put both Firefox and Chrome on it and rank them as being even worse, because they are. I've used all three and IE 9 comes out on top every time for speed, user-friendliness and trouble free operation. Chrome is too lackluster and watered-down to be a viable option at all. The latest version of Firefox did nothing but crash CONSTANTLY, even after several reinstalls, once on a brand new OS install, and didn't perform nearly as well as IE 9 does during general use. I use IE 9 all the time, every day, and the number of issued I have with it are minimal. You didn't even bother to list exactly what problems you have with IE 9 that made you think it should be on this list in the first place. Outlook has quirks and there are features that could work a little better than they do, but I've been administering an Exchange server for several years with ~60 Outlook clients and it's rare, VERY rare, that I have issues between clients and the server. Even then, I can solve it 99.9% of the time by telling the user to close and restart Outlook. Oooh, wow,... yeah, that's really hard to do. Bottom line, you provided virtually no real evidence whatsoever that either IE 9 or Outlook belong on this "flawed" list of yours.

bluesnake
bluesnake

I do rarely comment on articles however I am doing so as I do not agree entirely with list of flawed software. Outlook 2012 may be flawed due it it's bloated functionality and slow performance when compared to its predecessor, however the reasons given are not justified in general.

trduff
trduff

Singles out Windows Explorer 9, but the complaints are general to are revelent to all browsers.

skranish
skranish

What about Quicken? Slow, out of date, cumbersome, and clearly just kludge on kludge. Th 2011 edition added some sort of graphics layer that made it painfully slow. The best example of why monopolies are bad since.. Microsoft. It you did not like Acronis 11, have you tried Acronis 12? Bad documentation, claims it can do things it really cannot do (like restore a drive to dissimilar hardware.. leaving the user to figure out what drivers are needed and where to find them). How about IE8, for machines that cannot run IE9?

zdude
zdude

Sorry, but I had to signup just to respond to this. A large part of my business in recent years has been virus removal. And without exception the biggest leak in recent years has been Symantec Endpoint Protection. Every client that used it was getting (or is getting, for those still on it) with at least one virus every month (not to mention performance overhead issues). Steady work for me, but not the way I like it. And EVERY ONE of those that I moved to ESET instead has NOT had a virus since. One client wanted to just renew Symantec because times are tight and it was more to migrate to ESET (labor time and all), but I explained the 'real cost' of having me over every few weeks to fix a downed computer, along with the down-time and aggravation. They changed and have not had another virus. I have seen Symantec touted in several articles as being the effective one but am totally at a loss for why. It has consistently failed the 'real world' test in my experience. I would like to know the how and why as I knew the product and wanted to believe in it. We were running version 11.4 or 11.5, but I had not seen a new version out for years, and I checked every couple months. What am I missing here? Oh, and MSSE?? My only experiences with computers that run that are when they are in the shop with viruses and/or performance issues that have traced back to MSSE. So I have used Avast for a free AV and found it in most cases to be fast and effective. The biggest issue there is the 'auto-sandbox' feature which causes problems with apps for clients so I disable that. Sorry to be so wordy.

philip.stewart
philip.stewart

Wow, I think I have heard the biggest line ever with this one. I have had MS Sec Essentials allow tons of malware onto systems. I have to use a free product to take them off!!

glnz
glnz

Is Avast Free antivirus really not good? My home PCs (all WinXPPro SP3) have been running it for some time, and in five years I've only had one problem, as far as I can tell (and such problem was fixed with a MalwareBytes scan). Also use SpywareBlaster and Spybot S&D (passive protection) on all. The main desktop also has Ad-Aware. We run manual scans of MalwareBytes from time to time. My browser is Firefox with NoScript, AdBlock and Better Privacy My wife uses the AOL environment on her laptop, including for emails and browsing, but it seems to have decent internal protection before the data gets to her laptop. I occasionally run the Avast boot-time scan, and I have never found anything. So what's the fuss?

psmithers
psmithers

This article is not helpful. Advocating a different OS seems to be the real purpose - one that is not realistic.

MaccaUK
MaccaUK

This article is flawed because it is complete tripe.

Mooreman
Mooreman

This product has been out since June 2011 and its totally broken. The connector software does not work and as a result you cannot connect any of your clients to the server. I have tried two XP clients, a Vista Ultimate and a Win 7 64-bit client and none of them were able to successfully connect to the server. All worked fine with the previous 2005 v1 version. The connector utility has such a lousy error handling routine that it gets to 95% completed, then it tells the end-user that an unexpected error has occurred and then it undoes the entire setup installation and backs out. What a waste of time. They have open support requests on their own forums going back to June of 2011 on this product. Support on this MS product is virtually non-existent. MS is shirking their responsibility in supporting this SOHO product and dumping it on to clueless OEM's and forum sites. I also read of frequent issues with recoveries crashing and security certificate errors that prevent clients from connecting and using the server system as it was intended. I am starting to see a pattern of failure here with MS products across the board in addition to the usual security short comings. The problems really seemed to escalate when Bill Gates left the day-to-day operations to Steve Balmer. I don't think that Balmer has a clue what he is doing when it comes to managing software products. While Apple and Google clean their clock in the Smart phone markets, Microsoft is a no-show. Meanwhile their core products Windows and Office are slowly rotting on the vines for lack of any real innovation.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

Web browsers are terrible Outlook is horrid Flash is junk Take those all out of desktop computing, and there isn't much left. All this complaining is just another symptom of the decline of TR.

kweinberg34
kweinberg34

... or any desktop touch implementation, really. I agree - bad news. I had an HP IQ770 with that nice big touchscreen. It was incredibly awkward to use. Touchscreens need to be degrees off horizontal, NOT vertical.

philstilliard
philstilliard

You are wrong about Acronis, it is good. If you don't understand the error codes, then they have technical support, just ask. When you have done a backup, you can get the data back without running Acronis. It is straight forward to use.

jungleexplorer
jungleexplorer

I can confirm the authors comments about Quickbooks and Acronis True Image software. I have used Quickbooks since 1998 and it is a pain in the neck. "Then why do you still use it you ask?" The simple answer; Intuit has a monopoly on the accounting software market the same way Microsoft has a monopoly on the desktop PC market. There are other accounting programs, but they are not support by 99% of banks and other software makers. Besides the persistent glitches and design defects with Quickbooks (that intuit promises to fix with each upgrade but never does), there is the god awful "Sunset" feature, which basically means that QB is designed to shut down the most useful features of the program after three years. So every three years, just about the time you have program running smoothly and you are familiar with it, it stops working and you are forced to upgrade, to a totally new glitch ridden program you are unfamiliar with. Since Intuit engineers QB to be non backwards compatible with earlier versions, you have to let the program automatically update your company file to work with the new version. I just had to go through this nightmare this last week. I have spent the last seven days working 16 hours a day trying to repair damage that was done to my company data file during this update process and my accounts are still thousands of dollars out of balance. I pray that one day some competition enters this market so Intuit will have a reason to produce a product that is actually worth the outrageous amount they charge for their software. As far as Acronis True Image goes; there are much better programs that you can get for free like Easeus Todo Backup Free. I was suckerd into paying for True Image for two versions. I am a certified PC tech with fifteen years of experience building and repairing PCs and have used countless different professional level programs like Adobe Photoshop & Premier, MS Office, etc, I found this program one the most difficult programs I have ever used. But the main thing is that it seldom works the way it is supposed to. On top of that it actually broke my installation of Windows to the point that I had to reformat and re-install.

Kent Lion
Kent Lion

Anyone out there have problems with things accidently touching the touchpad on their laptop and messing up what they're doing? I can definitely wait for an entire desktop area that does the same thing. Imagine typing on such a desktop if you have "fat fingers" or a loose sweater...

Kent Lion
Kent Lion

Try to create a document or spreadsheet about Health Savings Accounts, and see how many times you have to press Ctrl+Z after typing the correct acronym "HSA", which Autocorrect will invariably turn into HAS. At the very least, Autocorrect should know that case does matter...

Kent Lion
Kent Lion

Without Exchange Server, and used only for email and contacts (which are really what an email program are supposed to do), Outlook is also inferior, when compared to Outlook Express or Windows Live Mail. When I worked in an office with Outlook and Exchange Server, I was not the only one who lost entire .PST files to corruption, or to getting too big. In the latter case, Outlook gave no warning, the entire .PST file was just suddenly no longer accessible or recoverable.

xamountofwords
xamountofwords

I think everyone can agree that Flash is highly flawed.

xamountofwords
xamountofwords

And your screenshot of Unity is 11.04. Most people didn't think Unity was well-executed until 11.10. Besides, that's your opinion that it's unusable. In reality, it's quite usable for the majority of people, whether you're new or experienced. So that's a subjective opinion, not a real analysis of how well it works.

skyeenter
skyeenter

Made the huge mistake of started using QB Pro for last 12 years. Jumped right in, just like every other stooge who even thinks of starting their own biz, we gotta get QB to run the mission critical accounting side of the biz. At the time the options were sluggish, cumbersome competitors or QB with it slick, sleek GUI. Over the course of that 12 years I have come to detest QB/Intuit more than any other software vendor. Even more than Symantec's pile of crap. QB has 96% of the Small Business Accounting Software market. Did someone from the back of the room mumble MONOPOLY. Well I heard that, and they're right. Now I'm O.K. with someone having a monopoly if they leave the slaving slobs alone and just let them be part of the monopoly. But QB/Intuit is different. Every three years they clobber you over the head with the the BS line that all the new wonderful features they've been working on need to be installed in a new upgraded program. What are some of those new features, you ask? Last upgrade, one of the more convincing marketing points I now had the ability to use was foreign currency symbols in my transactions. WTF, my customer base is withing 5 blocks of my biz. Why do I need to purchase a new $160 upgrade for that feature? The accounting kernel has been basically the same since it's inception, some of the bugs were worked out with subsequent patches and upgrades. (So my major rub is, why do I need to upgrade if the basic kernel is still the same. I'll answer that for you, shareholder value.) But around 2002 QB/Intuit started requiring a repurchased program to become compliant with their newly introduced feature sets. Now, if you use one of their premium features like credit card processing, you don't have a choice. They send you a notice that you have x number of days to purchase the new upgrade or your premium features are cancelled. Meaning you biz doesn't operate smoothly. Sure, Intuit bull sheets you around by saying the program will always work, but the premium features won't be supported. There by strong arming / extracting the $160 out of you. Every time I get these notices I feel like Guido, one of the Godfather's thugs, has darkened my door. Hey, Skye, the Gadfawder asks me to stop by and remind you that yous gotta pay more respect to the Gadfawder. Even Microsoft isn't as brazenly aggressive as QB/Intuit, they at least let you keep XP running for years past their product upgrades. Doesn't happen with QB, it's either pay or no play. And that's why I absolutely hate QB/Intuit. Once you are lured into the caressing cradle of their corporate arms you can never leave. They know that, once they have them locked into the sophisticated features of their product, they can abuse their customer base the way they do and not give a sheet about them.

paulo.sedrez
paulo.sedrez

In many Latin countries, Outlook is often refereed as "Out Loko", where Loko means mad, crazy: you have to be crazy to use this flawed thing!

maj37
maj37

I am with others your problems with Outlook are not Outlook's fault, you maybe should have listed Exchange as the flawed product since it is so finicky, but even that I don't agree with completely. It would have been good if you could have listed what it is about IE 9 that makes it flawed, all of your discussion was about how important a browser is, with nothing about IE 9. I use IE 9 on one of my machines because it came on the machine from HP, a replacement for a warranty machine that died. While I like IE 8 better I don't see any real glaring problems with IE 9. If you think Symantec Endpoint Protection is that much better than consumer grade anti-virus then you obviously haven't used it very much. We have it here and it lets just as much junk through as anything else does. If you are telling your users that consumer anti-virus products do more harm than good then IMHO you are the one doing more harm than good.

andmark
andmark

iTunes - hates you even more than you hate it. Perhaps it was a great platform for Apple Store but poking graphics, ringtones, video, contacts and calendar appointments through the app just doesn't work. USB speakers for the laptop - require reboot before it will reroute to the onboard speakers. Nokia Software Updater - wipes all content on the phone as it updates. Double video card solutions - the thought of doubling your graphics card cost with identical units seems wasteful financially and logistically. Why not improve the cards themselves? Molex connectors - plug them in to the DVD drive or HDD and those puppies are there to stay. DDR RAM configurations - one notch, two notches, all difficult to seat and rarely compatible. Cat5 network cable plugs - without the collar, they easily lose the click tab at the top. Power cable plugs - iPhone different to Samsung Galaxy TAB different to Samsung FIT different to Blackberry different to RAZR. Convergence fail. Internal wireless antennas - no opportunity to extend with external hardware. Windows default configurations - always the least useful, least attractive, least productive configuration. Operating system default feature set - the basic apps are REALLY basic Virtual folders in Win7 - when is a file not a file? App Name diversity in Linux - every feature has a name, every name is crypticly not interested in describing itself in the interests of standing out for its author. Captcha security - making it difficult for robots to get through and everyone else for that matter. Microsoft Dictionary - great for correcting everything in English back to US English on a word by word basis in MS Word. Still wont correct or even flag "ize" to "ise" in Australian or UK regional settings.

tarose.trevor
tarose.trevor

i actually just have to disagree with that opening statement... neither quickbooks nor myob are great, they are glorified spreadsheet programs that offer very little more than a spreadsheet can do simply... they arent all that user friendly, the help files suck, and there is no business information in the help files at all really... they fall way short of what i expect from a product i am going to pay that much money for. especially considering that this is one of the oldest uses anyone has ever put a computer to, and so they have had plenty of years to evolve it way further than this... rather underwhelmed by both distros.

richard.gardner
richard.gardner

Outlook does have problems, but then so does Thunderbird. We've been running a global Exchange network for years with very few problems, but then the trouble with a lot of journeyman "IT Experts" is that they think knowing their way around the front end of a product in some way makes them experts. There's a reason good Exchange guys are expensive and that's because Exchange is complicated. If you think Exchange is flawed because the front end doesn't do a good job of guiding an idiot through the configuration options then you display a frightening misunderstanding of what it is that keeps our infrastructure running. Could I suggest a couple of new articles for you, perhaps how the complete lack of a TCL scripting interface is killing network security? How about one on how NoSQL is killing WEB 2.0 because it's "a bit complicated"? You might be better served (if you want to attack Microsoft) doing an article on why the Word 2010 drawing engine is a load of bollocks.

glentech
glentech

I have used QB since it came out, (I have Dos v1 on a VM for fun) and would agree that it's problematic. The problems really got worse when Intuit started using .NET as the underlying framework, IMHO. QB can hardly work on it's own merits when it has to rely on a buggy platform for it's foundation. The SQL switch was a plus.

davepadgett
davepadgett

I suggest adding Magellan GPS map updates to the list. They sell you the 'latest and greatest' and after you pay for it, you learn a) your street (6 yrs old) isn't on their map, and b) there's no recourse but to submit a 'suggested update' and then buy their next map to see if they actually added it - or toss it and use another company's GPS system.

fishystory
fishystory

I just thought I'd mention RealPlayer as it has a history of being adware and spyware-ridden. And the last time I dealt with RealPlayer, I remember finding parts of the program which hadn't been removed after uninstalling. I also have to mention Windows Millenium Edition. Most seasoned Windows users have heard or experienced the problems surrounding WinME... slow startup/shutdown and other related problems, poor driver support, frequent freezing and crashing and an abysmal management of memory and little difference (to the end user) when compared to the more stable Windows 98.

norwich-computers
norwich-computers

I rarely make a comment on articles like this, but your list is flawed and I just had to point it out. This is meant to be a list of 'flawed products that are really bad'. You have included Outlook on this list and do so on the basis that, if the Exchange Server with which it communicates is set up by a bunch of idiots, Outlook will not work well. That's a bit like saying if you put diesel fuel into your Ferrari, the Ferrari will not work, and therefore the Ferrari is flawed. I have no problem with you adding Outlook to the list if you can make a good argument for it, but that is not a good argument.

zdnet
zdnet

We used QB Pro (Canadian) for some years, and upgraded as and when. However, before installing 2008, we tested it, and found that multi-currency had been dropped. That would have been a disaster, 2009 was the same. Kept putting off upgrade until 2012, now we find multi currency is available, but custom forms (invoices, statements, deliver notes etc) can not be imported. Upgrading for us was not just a simple matter.

noahspurrier
noahspurrier

+1 on Unity -- the non-configurable disappointing desktop for retards. To this list I would add: 1. iTunes -- the most non-Apple-like experience in the Apple universe. 2. Windows 7 -- nobody expects much from Microsoft, and picking on it feels a bit like making fun of the slow kid in class, but I thought Windows 7 would be in some way better than its predecessors. Instead crap just got moved around and the UI was made even more tasteless and ugly. 3. Java -- the least portable language I know of. Why can't it just die and leave us alone? No, I don't want to allow the Oracle/Sun Java Updater to install a new version. Quit bugging me. It's even more annoying than Flash with the added insult of not actually being useful for anything. Java has failed in every revolution in software it claimed it would make. 4. All antivirus software -- cure is worse than the disease.

charleswdavis6670
charleswdavis6670

These articles are only to encourage the fan boys of different flavors to vent, with no facts.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I don't normally use a touch-sensitive device. I loaded W8 Dev on a Dell Latitude XT we had lying around, and found that I frequently caused unwanted actions when I inadvertently rested the base of my hand on the display while typing. I don't know if this was due to the individual model, my lack of experience with such devices, or (most likely) some combination of those and other factors. I didn't stick with it long enough to get comfortable enough with it or to learn how to avoid it, so I can't say if it belongs on a list of flawed products.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

you can tell Autocorrect to ignore words that are in uppercase, or that contain numbers. You can also tell it to quit changing certain strings, such as 'HSA' to 'HAS'. You can also add 'HSA' as a legitimate word. If you're referring to Outlook, the settings for all of these are in Word; Outlook uses Word as it's editor.

Nettleship
Nettleship

When I left the corporate world and didn't have the know-how to run Exchange at home for my family, I tried OWA. (It should have been called OUCH.) I tried running without Exchange.....I'd long before discovered the recovery tools for .pst on individual installs --- if used as standard monthly maintenance vs whoops I've lost everything --prevented lost .pst files. For internet portability we were using Earthlink. Whoops, ouch, nothing the matter with Earthlink as a POP server except every work station wound up with a different set of data. Switched to Google to get IMAP but now we each had multiple copies of contact lists and e-mails and ---WHAT???? I thought Microsoft must be kidding me that I had to go to an outside provider to remove duplicates. Downloaded MapiLab duplicate remover and it zipped through my contacts and tasks....but WHAT???? I had to buy another piece of software from Mapilabs to remove duplicate e-mails. No I didn't. I transferred all Outlook e-mails to Google, searched for duplicates, transferred them back to Outlook. What a waste of time but necessary. Why wouldn't Outlook have it's own duplicates removal features? Why wouldn't it be very clear to users that some regular maintenance of .pst files is a good idea and that Microsoft had put that maintenance tool on your work station?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

the problem with .PST files getting corrupted when over 2Gb was fixed in the 2007 version.

charleswdavis6670
charleswdavis6670

Journals, ledger paper and similar items for your double-entry bookkeeping. However, 13 column analysis pads are only $14.99 for 50 pages. You can do this without the necessity of having a computer with updates (No more complaints about Microsoft), internet access fees (No more complaints about slow download speed), etc.

charleswdavis6670
charleswdavis6670

What program has better help files? In answering over 5,000 questions on the QB forums, most answers usually refer the writer to the Help files with one or two words to search by. Yes, I will agree that there may be too much for small minds to absorb. Accounting is not usually associated with four word answers.

Keighlar
Keighlar

Paid $50 to update my maps and the install turned my GPS into a brick. Two days and four hours of tech support later it was finally in working condition with only a "few" Chinese characters in my locations list. To top it all off, half the streets around my house still aren't available. Google search showed this has been an issues for YEARS. X-(

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

If we went digging up every inferior product since the dawn of the integrated circuit, Jack would be writing for days. Besides, bad as Me was, it was head and shoulders above Microsoft Bob.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

By that logic, many e-mail clients are flawed merely because they can be connected to Exchange: OWA and other web-based clients, Entourage for Macs or Apple Mail, BES and smart phone e-mail clients, etc. Don't blame the front-end for (perceived) back-end problems. The body shop isn't responsible for (possible) problems under the hood.

xamountofwords
xamountofwords

then it's you who is mentally handicapped, not the interface. Apparently you haven't even tried. It is possible. I've done it.

charleswdavis6670
charleswdavis6670

noahspurrier, #2. Windows 7 is flawed? Please be specific. #4. "...worse than the disease...." You don't restore infected systems on a daily basis do you? The best thing that Microsoft did in this arena, was to make Microsoft Security Essentials an update to any computer without an Antivirus program installed.

skyeenter
skyeenter

For someone with over 5,000 posts on QB are you sure you want to enter into the FANBOY fray?

Nettleship
Nettleship

In some part yes....but not completely. The addition of the .pst and the .ost tools to the workstation was a huge plus but most users don't know they have it.

Nettleship
Nettleship

The Help files suck. Most of the time now they don't even attempt to answer the questions. Go look at the botnet article in Tech Republic. Help should have been written by humans but we suspect what little help is there was written by a bot. Intuit relies on free assistance from a community it doesn't even seem to bother to monitor. I've actually seen the same plea for help sit out there for over 24 months with multiple users waiting for any intelligent response. Suggest our major responder needs to don his super hero cape and work 24/7 assisting stranded users....you know, the market Intuit deliberately focuses on ....the user who needs an easy to use, highly intuitive product with great help.

wgdunn
wgdunn

What? Debits left; credits right. You mean there's more?

Nettleship
Nettleship

I moved to a street that had been there for 10 years (oldest home on street 9 years old). It was in a difficult (for me -- a newcomer to town --) to find location. I laughed the day it gave me strange directions which I assume were just another route home until the next turn said: "From here go cross-country 3 miles" and I was looking at a Texas farm with barbed wire fence alongside the road. I hate Magellen GPS and love Garmin so bought a replacement unit (1450) with free lifetime map updates. The unit broke so often that Amazon won't replaced them anymore -- just sends you your money back. Wow!.

mckinnej
mckinnej

You're both looking at this from the wrong perspective...a technical one. The user doesn't see Exchange. All they see is Outlook and when it doesn't work, "Outlook" is broken. I deal with intermittent connections with Exchange all day long. Outlook is constantly whining about it. What it needs to do is shut up and deal with it. Quit nagging at me. As a user, I sure as heck can't fix it.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'd agree with you if one of my users had written the article, and my reply to him or her would be different. The author is an IT professional and knows the difference between an back-end e-mail server and an e-mail client, and knows better than to refer to them as if they were interchangeable.