QuickBooks Tips & Tricks - #1 Data File Error
Issue 2.4 January 28, 2003
At this time of year we receive many inquiries from accountants and tax preparers as they receive their clients QuickBooks files. Most are looking for some suggestions on how to approach looking at the file to judge the accuracy and overall health of the file.
By far the most common error is not checking the data integrity of the file.
QuickBooks is a complex system of inter-related transactions. For example, a purchase order is not a posting transaction. It is, however, then linked to a bill in the Accounts Payable Register to update the general ledger. This bill is then paid though pay bills and will appear in the check register. The bank reconciliation function is then performed and the bill payment is marked as cleared. It is quite apparent how an unstable operating environment, fluctuations in the power supply, and incorrect computer procedures (especially not closing QuickBooks before closing Windows or turning off the computer) can contribute to problems with the data.
How do you know you have a problem? These problems can manifest in many different ways. Most are the knowledge that something just “doesn’t look right.” Here are a few examples: From the chart of accounts, the diamond to the left of the account is used to make an account a sub account, and the result is that the entire chart of accounts is a sub account of a “mystery” account; The customer list is open to reveal the outstanding balance due; the open balance quick report is then created for this same customer to reveal a different balance; Something strange or unexpected happens within the software.
How do you correct and/or avoid the problem? In an effort to aid in troubleshooting data inconsistencies, checking data integrity is a logical first step. This should be done if you think there is a problem. Also, as a common practice, it is a good idea to check the data integrity at least once a month (maybe when you do month end procedures) or any time that anything unusual happens in the operating environment. To verify the data, close all open windows within the software, then choose File > Utilities > Verify Data. Once the verification is complete, a message will appear. If it states “QuickBooks detected no problems with your data,” everything is probably fine and the problem usually has its roots somewhere else. Usually there is something in the report format or data entry that does not produce the expected results. If it states that the data has lost integrity and you need to rebuild the file, don’t panic! Simply choose File > Utilities > Rebuild data. The software will prompt you to make a back up and then will go through the data to rebuild it.
New with version 2003 is the option to automatically check the data integrity when backing up the data file from within QuickBooks.
How we can help: See our eReport on How Healthy is Your QuickBooks File. Or, have your client attend so they can troubleshoot some of the issues before the file even gets to you.
As a resource for this and other questions, submit a question via "Ask the Expert" or attend our free, monthly discussion forum tele-class.
Bonnie J. Nagayama, CPA (925-247-0100) has been featured by Intuit in their QuickBooks Advisor Spotlight and frequently teaches and consults on using QuickBooks to its maximum advantage. For a FREE weekly newsletter of QuickBooks tips and tricks, plus many free and low cost QuickBooks resources visit www.4luvofbiz.com.
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