After years of constantly having to resolve issues with QuickBooks, I realized that the cause of most problems lay with end users or the system administrator in charge of the QuickBooks deployment. So I thought it would be helpful to list 10 common mistakes that lead to major QuickBooks headaches. With this list in hand, you should be able to avoid the pitfalls and enjoy a smooth experience with one of the most widely used financial applications available.
1: Keeping the app open
I can't tell you how often I have witnessed users leave QuickBooks open during lunch, overnight, all week... you get the picture. This is a bad practice for a number of reasons. First and foremost, if your data file isn't password protected, it leaves your data open to prying eyes. This habit also leaves you open to data file corruption. Should your network connection go down, and QuickBooks assumes you are still connected, problems with the data file will begin to appear. On top of that, if the database manager assumes you are still connected (and you're not), you might be looking at a server reboot to solve the problem.
2: Not verifying/rebuilding your data file
There are two tools you should be using more often than you probably are. Within the Utilities menu, you'll find both Verify and Rebuild. At least once a quarter you should run Verify on your data file. This will check to see whether there are any errors within that data. If any errors are found, you'll then need to run the Rebuild tool to clean up said errors. If you leave those errors unchecked and unfixed, they can compound to the point where the only solution is to send the data file off to Intuit (which means a minimum of three business days without QuickBooks).
3: Failing to upgrade QuickBooks
There are a lot of reasons to upgrade QuickBooks. Many users assume the main reason is to send Intuit their money. The truth of matter is, with each major release there are new tax laws and software fixes added. This is especially true when a major release of the hosting platform is put into play. Even though upgrading QuickBooks can be a costly proposition, the downtime associated with not having a working QuickBooks solution (and having to fix that solution) is far worse. Upgrade QuickBooks regularly.
4: Hosting a data file on a laptop
Do not do this. Period. Why? There are many reasons, but let me highlight two. First, that laptop will most likely be moved off the premises. When it is, QuickBooks can't be used by the other machines. Second, you'll most likely be transmitting your data over wireless. Seriously? Don't do that. Wireless is significantly less secure (and less reliable) than a wired connection. QuickBooks has no business being run over a wireless connection.
5: Not doing clean installations
If you wind up with a broken QuickBooks installation, don't just assume Windows can properly handle the uninstall. This assumption will only cause subsequent installations to fail. After you do the uninstall, you must go through your directory structure (which will differ, depending upon the platform) and delete the leftover files. (Be careful not to delete anything associated with QuickBooks POS, if you use that application.) If you do an install and you find your key and product code already there, the install was not clean.
6: Rebooting the server without warning QuickBooks users
So your server is having issues and you decide the only solution is a reboot. Thing is, you don't bother to give a heads up to all those QuickBooks users who happen to be working diligently on the data file. When you reboot the server and break the connection, you've most likely corrupted that data file. To avoid such a disaster, all you have to do is alert every QuickBooks user that the server is going down and they need to close out. Once everyone has QuickBooks closed, reboot at will.
7: Introducing new security without considering QuickBooks needs
Network security is a crucial factor in your company's ability to work and grow. With an insecure network, you open yourself up to data theft and loss. But if you throw new security measures at your network without considering QuickBooks, you'll probably break the connection between client and server. Consider putting QuickBooks on an internal network disconnected (or at least isolated) from the outside world.
8: Using QuickBooks over a VPN
You need to work from home and you need to use QuickBooks. Forget about it. VPN connections are two things: Unreliable and insecure. If you attempt to work with QuickBooks over a VPN line, you will corrupt your data file. It may not happen immediately, but it will happen. If you need to use QuickBooks remotely, use the QuickBooks online edition. No matter what you've been told, that is the only logical and reliable solution for using QuickBooks remotely.
9: Failing to trim some fat (clean lists)
After years of using the same QuickBooks data file, there are bound to be numerous dead accounts, users, and more. At least once a year, you need to go through the various lists (customers and vendors, accounts, etc.) and delete those that are no longer active — ones you know you don't need. As you use the data file, it continually grows. The larger it gets, the more problems it can have. Keep it clean; keep it trim.
10: Keeping multiple windows open all the time
QuickBooks is a resource hog, and the more QuickBooks windows you have open, the more resources it will use. Don't keep numerous windows open on the off chance that you might need them. That isn't efficient when it begins to bog down your computer. When you're done with a window, close it. And then, when you're done with QuickBooks, close it (to bring this all back to #1).
Better practices, better results
There's a reason QuickBooks is one of the most widely used financial solutions — it's an outstanding platform. But with careless usage and administration, it can become a frustrating application. Avoid these bad practices and you'll find QuickBooks to be more reliable, secure, and efficient.
Share your QuickBooks experiences
Is QuickBooks your financial platform of choice? If so, what problems have you experienced? Or has the solution from Intuit been stellar?
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 jackwallen.com.