Computers and software are great when they work. But if your computer crashed or your QuickBooks file was corrupted and unusable, do you have a recent backup of your QuickBooks data file?
Recreating data is not fun, easy or fast. I can’t emphasize this enough: Losing your financial data can be the beginning of the end of your company. You won’t know what you’re owed, so you’ll be unable to collect. You’ll miss vendor payments. Payroll will be challenging to reconstruct, and you won’t be able to submit payroll taxes. And how will you know what your income tax obligation is?
You definitely want a backup off site; in case of fire, flood, theft or some other problem, you still have your data. But I always like to have one or more quickly accessible (like an external drive or thumb drive). And, when you have more than one backup, you’re still protected. I’ve had backups not work (bad file or bad media) but if you have multiple backups, your chances are much better.
How often do you backup? How much data entry do you want to recreate???!! Weekly is good for some, while daily is a must for others – just depends on the amount of activity in your data file.
I recommend that at least monthly you use the regular backup feature in QuickBooks (and use the verified option) for a couple reasons:
- This traditional (verified) backup method will look for problems with your data file – an offsite backup won’t do that. This way you can fix the problem before it goes too far.
- This will reset the log file(*.tlg) QuickBooks creates. When the log file gets really large (and I’ve seen it get larger than the actual data file), you may find your QuickBooks is not so quick!
Note: it’s great to have servers backed up and hosting companies keep backups of your files as well. However, these are simply copies or your QuickBooks data file, so there is no “check” on the integrity of your data file.
QuickBooks provides two ways (actually, three) to create a copy of your QuickBooks data file. When is each appropriate, and how do you proceed?
The Critical Traditional Backup
Click File > Backup Company>Create Local Backup… You’ll be asked whether you want to back up locally — to a network folder or thumb drive, for example – or to the cloud, using Intuit Data Protect (fees apply, unless you’re using QuickBooks Enterprise or QuickBooks Pro Plus or QuickBooks Premier Plus). If you select the local preference, click on Options to designate a location in the window below.
Click OK, then Next. QuickBooks will ask when you want to save your backup copy and offer scheduling options. When you’re done, click Finish.
To schedule a backup, click on New in this screen below and then choose the day(s) time and where you want the backup to be stored. The stored password is your Windows password, not your QuickBooks password.
Portable Company File
Portable company files are more compact than backup files, so they can be, uploaded faster with file transfer sites or copied onto another computer. But they don’t contain everything that regular backups do. They lack, for example, letters, logos, attachments, images and templates. Don’t use this option if changes will be made, since they can’t be merged back into the file.
To save a portable company file, click on File > Create Copy (you can do this to copy any kind of file, actually). This window opens:
Select Portable company file and click the Next button. In the following window, you’ll browse to a location for your file. QuickBooks will already have entered the name and will save your data in .qbm format. Click Save, then OK when QuickBooks tells you it must close and reopen your file first. Click OK again when you’re told that the file has been created.
Restoring Your Data
Should you need to restore a backup, click File > Open or Restore Company… In the window that opens, select the type of backup you’re using (traditional *.qbb or portable *.qbm). The Open Company File window opens; make sure that the file’s location is displayed in the Look in: field. Click Open. QuickBooks then asks where you want to restore the file.
The following step is critical. Rename your file unless you want to overwrite your current company file. You can add a date or some other identifying information like a version number.
Click Save. QuickBooks will convert your backup file to a standard company file with a .qbw extension.
QuickBooks makes it easy to create copies of your data, but an error here can threaten your company’s future. So take the time to “insure” your QuickBooks. Contact us if you need assistance.