Guest Post by Shannon Tucker

Everyone needs to restore a backup now and then:

  • Your computer or your software program crashes
  • You made enough data entry errors that you just want to turn the clock back and redo it
  • You deleted some things that you shouldn’t have deleted
  • You want to look at a version of your file as it was months or years ago
QuickBooks (image by edwardjohnphotography)

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This is true of QuickBooks backups as well as other kinds.

But what if you want to restore a QuickBooks backup and it won’t restore? Possible reasons…

    • It’s not a compatible edition/version of QuickBooks. If your backup was made with Enterprise, you won’t be able to restore it with Premier (unless it is converted first). Or if your backup was made with QuickBooks 2011, you won’t be able to restore it with QuickBooks 2010 or any version lower than 2011.
    • The backup is on defective media…a bad hard drive, USB drive, external drive.
    • The backup was altered via faulty electronic transmission. If the backup was sent to your computer over the internet or email and it was changed even by one byte, it might make it unrestorable.
    • The backup was corrupt to begin with. If your QBW file is corrupted and you make an unverified backup, the backup would be corrupted also and might be unrestorable.
    • You’re trying to restore it to a drive that you can’t restore to. Examples: flash drives, CD or DVD drives, online drives, or hard drives or folders that you don’t have system permissions to alter. (This is the easiest-to-fix problem of all the above because there’s nothing wrong with your backup, just your destination. Pick a good destination and your backup will restore fine.)

So what to do? Here are some suggestions.

1.  DON’T overwrite anything. As you try different things to restore your data, make sure that you use a new file name for your restored file. Many people have inadvertently overwritten their ONLY good copy of their file with a too-old or corrupt backup.

2.  Take stock of what files you have available to you. Search your hard drive (or server drive) for all the following:

    • *.QBW  – This is a regular QuickBooks company file. You don’t have to restore it; you open it with the Open Existing Company command in QuickBooks.
    • *.QBB  – This is a regular QuickBooks backup file. It probably has the date it was made as part of the file name, so you’ll know if it’s the one you want to restore.
    • *.QBM  – This is a portable copy of your data and may have the create date as part of its name also.
    • *.QBA  – This is an accountant’s copy file. At least in the 2012 Accountants editions of QuickBooks, these can be converted directly to regular working files through the Accountants Copy submenu under File. For editions or versions that don’t have that command available, the file can be converted for you by AccountingUsers, Inc.

3.  If one backup doesn’t work, try your next best (usually next-most-recent) copy. Remember, don’t overwrite anything as you try restoring your backups.

If you find that the backup you really need to restore isn’t restorable, sometimes it is possible to update old backups with current TLG files – an auxiliary file that QuickBooks maintains along with your regular file.

Hopefully, something relatively recent will be restorable. If not, the worst case scenario is to create a new company in QuickBooks and from your previously saved financial reports put in beginning balances and move on.

Shannon Tucker is the President of AccountingUsers, Inc., an accounting database consulting company. He may be reached at 719-395-8750 or at [email protected]

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