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Quickbooks Files

ImageThis tip might be of use to you if you use Quickbooks or similar accounting software for your small business. This is not a problem that is specific to Quickbooks, and can happen with any similar software on your computer.

I have seen this problem happen to others, and also experienced it myself. It is a situation that can lead to loss of transaction data, and how to protect against it.

The scenario goes something like this:

  • You use Quickbooks or something like it to manage your books, on your computer. The data file is something that ends in .QBW, such as MyCompany.QBW.

  • You or your bookkeeper/accountant takes a copy of the data file, on one of those thumb drives that plug into a USB port. They make some changes and later copy it back onto your computer.


Sounds simple enough, right? Well there are several things that can go wrong.

  • If you modify your data, such as posting transactions, and the bookkeeper also makes changes on their copy, you now have two versions that each have something new and something the other version does not have.

  • You could copy an older version of your data file on top of your company data file, and lose transactions. It will seem like a whole bunch of transactions disappeared.

  • When you open Quickbooks, it automatically opens the last file it was working on, which might not be the correct version.

How To Protect Yourself

First, remember that backups are your friend. Make backup copies either daily or weekly according to the volume of transactions you do. Ask yourself "How much data can I afford to lose?" If you have have to re-enter a day's worth of transactions you would understand the pain involved in redoing a week's worth.


Next, re-name your company data to include a date in it. Keep all your company data files in a directory, and name them something like MyCompany_191107.QBW. Each day, when you start, you make a copy of the latest version and update the date in the filename. The reason I say to do this is that you cannot trust the "modified date" for the file, since whenever you open a file, Quickbooks makes some change to the file, even if you are not adding new transactions.

Another benefit of changing the file name based on the date, is when you copy it to a thumb drive. You can tell which copy was taken. Also, when you have it open in Quickbooks, you see the file name in the top left of the window which confirms that you are working on the correct version.

Next, there are multiple ways to start any application. You can go to the start menu, and run Quickbooks, or click on a desktop icon etc. Do not run Quickbooks directly, but find the correct data file and double click that. This forces Quickbooks to open that data file rather than the last one it worked on. It is too easy to open the application and start entering data, all the while thinking you are entering data into the correct version and later you pay for it.

I hope this helps.


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