Additionally, floppy drive backups are notorious for failing during the QuickBooks® “restore” process. The more diskettes required, the higher the likelihood of failure during a restore process. Avoid backing up on 3.5” diskettes if at all possible. Zip drives, tape drives, CDs and memory sticks are all relatively reliable backup devices.
Remember to move some of those backups off-site so that if there is a fire, flood or theft, you will still have your financial records.
Surgical-Style File Reduction Strategies
There are a variety of reasons why your file may be too large; you should thoroughly explore the situation before proceeding further. Once you understand how your file grew so large, consider the following strategies for dealing with an overgrown QuickBooks® file.
Warning: Although you may be tempted to take on this project in a do-it-yourself mode, I recommend that you undertake the following measures only with professional assistance. I’m sharing these approaches primarily to let you know that there are viable ways to move forward once your data file has become too large. These fixes can be tricky and, if not properly handled, could leave you with undesirable results.
Do a file rebuild. You can close all open reports and windows in QuickBooks®, then go to File, then Utilities, then Rebuild Data. You will be asked to create a backup and the rebuild will begin. I have seen client file sizes reduced significantly simply by re-building. (I often tell clients this is similar to re-packing a messy suitcase after you’ve been on the road for a week or so.)
Even though you haven’t reduced the actual amount of data in your file, you will now have a better picture of your exact file size.
Open a new QuickBooks® company file. You can create a new company file, enter opening balances and roll forward. This requires some focused startup time, but if your prior file structure didn’t provide the results you wanted, you now have the opportunity for a clean start. Remember to keep your prior file on your computer so you can access it as needed.
Perform file archive and condense. This process condenses all “closed” transactions that have posted to an account, removes all details (such as Vendor, Customer Job Assignment and Item) and posts them as a journal entry (one per account per month for the time frame you indicate). You’ll still be able to run reports that show account balances from prior periods, but the condensed periods won’t display detailed transactions. You will, however, have an archived file to access for prior-period details.
Warning: After the archive and condense process, you will no longer be able to see job cost details from any archived period. If it’s important to you to be able to see all of your job costs on one report (from your current file), be especially careful of your condense dates.
Here are some file archive and condense tips:
- Leave at least a full fiscal year’s worth of detail in the current file. For example, you might only want to condense through Dec. 31, 2002 right now so you will still be able to see all details for 2003. Then next year, you can condense through Dec. 31, 2003.
- Immediately after you complete the archive and condense process, go into your file and run various reports. Check them for completeness and accuracy. If you notice any problems, immediately restore your original file and look for professional assistance for the archive and condense process.
Upgrade to QuickBooks® Enterprise Solutions. Intuit offers an enhanced “middle market” edition of QuickBooks® called QuickBooks® Enterprise Solutions. It looks and acts just like QuickBooks® Pro and/or the Premier Editions and has improved performance. In addition, up to 10 users can access the file simultaneously, the list limits have doubled and key reports run up to 50% faster.
I queried technical support about file size limitations and — although I haven’t personally experienced anything close to this file size — they indicated that it could handle up to four gigabytes. This represents a significant improvement in file size capacity.
Simply install the system and open your prior QuickBooks® file. At $3,500, it may seem a bit pricey, but in the world of accounting systems, if it gives you the fire power you need, it may still be a bargain.
Consider other software options. If your operations have expanded rapidly and you find you continually need other construction accounting solutions, it may be time to consider buying and implementing integrated software solutions.
Be sure to investigate your options thoroughly: Talk with other users and project the immediate and long-term benefits and costs of making a change. From the costs side, be sure to include staff training time (and travel costs — if required), training and consulting fees and ongoing upgrades and maintenance fees. (For more advice on evaluating integrated processes and software, read Tech Talk 15. In addition, read about a builder’s experiences with integrated software. Both are in the Business Management Tools section of the NAHB Web site.)
Send your QuickBooks® challenge to Diane Gilson at QBChallenge@InfoPlusAcct.com. If your challenge is selected for this series (as Jennifer’s was), you will receive a free copy of Gilson’s book, "Accounting with QuickBooks® Pro for Home Builders & Remodelers" (available through www.infoplusacct.com or BuilderBooks.com).
Diane C.O. Gilson, CPA, CIA, is a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor and MasterBuilder ProAdvisor, author, trainer and construction accounting coach, as well as a frequent speaker at The International Builders’ Show and the Remodeling Show. Her firm, Info Plus Accounting PC/CPA, offers bookkeeping and support services to help construction companies do more accurate and timely job costing and run better management reports. Contact Gilson via e-mail, or call her at 734-544-7620.
Please Note: This article is solely for informational purposes. Reference herein to QuickBooks® software or Intuit, Inc., or any specific commercial products, process or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer or otherwise, does not constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, warranty or guaranty by NAHB. The views and opinions of the author expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of NAHB. NAHB and the author expressly disclaim any responsibility for any damages arising from the use, application or reliance on any information contained in this article. We recommend that users exercise their own skill and care with respect to its use. Because software is continually modified and upgraded, please consult an accountant or information technology advisor before using the information in this article.
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Other Business Management Publications Available at BuilderBooks.com
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The NAHB University of Housing offers a course on business management designed to help builders improve their business and profitability. For a list of current offerings, click here. Search keywords: “Introduction to Business Management.”