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What is the QuickBooks TLG File?

February 2, 2011 | By | 12 Replies More

When you create a company in QuickBooks there will be several files created. One has a file type of “QBW” – that is your actual company data file. Another that is created has a file type of “TLG”, and that is the source of some confusion as well as some misunderstandings. Let’s review a few facts about this file.

What the TLG File Contains

As you use your QuickBooks company file it is being updated with the transactions that you enter. In addition to updating the company file, QuickBooks will save information about the transactions in the TLG or Transaction Log file. QuickBooks is tracking all of the changes that you make to your company file. The TLG file continues to grow, and it isn’t unusual to see the TLG file become bigger than the QBW file.

I’m told by some people that as the TLG file grows you may see some decrease in system performance, at least when the file gets very large. I’ve not been able to confirm that myself. The increased file size certainly can impact performance and possibly cost of backup programs and procedures.

imageAs a side note, you may also see a file with an ND file type – this is the NetConnect file, containing information that relates to multi user access to your company file. You should not erase it.

What Use is the TLG File?

In your normal day-to-day operation of QuickBooks, the TLG file is of no use to you. You don’t have a way to look at it, your use of QuickBooks won’t be affected by its presence. So what is its value to you?

The value of the TLG file is for data restoration. If your company file is erased or damaged, the TLG file can be used in conjunction with your most recent backup to restore transactions that were entered since that backup. Let me give you a simplified example.

  1. You have an inventory item that has an on-hand quantity of 10.
  2. You make a backup copy of your company file (more on this later).
  3. You receive 20 more of that item.
  4. For some reason your company file is damaged, but you still have the current TLG file and your backup file.
  5. You restore the backup, now you are back to an on-hand quantity of 10.
  6. The transaction log is applied to your restored backup, it gets you back to 20 on-hand.

Sounds simple? Unfortunately it isn’t. You cannot apply the transaction log, only certain businesses can.

Who Can Restore a TLG File?

There is no user-accessible utility program that will let you take a backup file and update it with the transaction log. Some options that you have are:

  • QuickBooks Data Services (Intuit QuickBooks Support): Their web site is a bit vague, it is not clear if these fees apply to applying a transaction log to a backup. Their data recovery service comes in two flavors, “standard” at $250 with your project being added to the queue (I’ve heard it can be multiple days or more) and “express” at $750 where you go to the top of the queue. There is a nonrefundable analysis fee. http://support.quickbooks.intuit.com/support/helpcenter/programs/data_recovery.aspx
  • AccountingUsers, Inc: They advertise a standard service ($275 for two business days) and expedited service ($450 overnight). No fee if they are not successful. http://quickbooksusers.com/datarepair.htm
  • QB or not QB: At this time I’m not sure what their fee is, most likely it will be variable depending on the size of your file and how quickly you want it turned around. http://www.qbornotqb.com/

Each of these services have a cost – a fee that you will have to pay, and a turnaround time during which you cannot use your QuickBooks company file to add or change ANY information.

Note that I have not used any of these services for this kind of recovery. I’ve spoken with the people at AccountingUsers Inc and QB or Not QB on multiple occasions, and they sound like reasonable people with the appropriate technical knowledge, but I haven’t tested the services.

Why Not Just Delete It?

OK, we’ve established that the file gets large and takes up space (particularly if you are copying backups and this file to a CD or other media), that it might slow down performance as it gets larger, and that you have to pay money to be able to use it to recover data. Why bother with it? Can’t I just delete it?

If you have been reading my blog for long you will know that I am a bit hyper about data security and backups. So, do we need the file? On one hand, if you have a good backup plan, you are making regular backups in several ways, and if a disaster occurs you can restore your backups with a minimum of fuss. No need for the TLG file?

Well, I don’t agree with that. I believe that you have to take advantage of every opportunity for data security that you possibly can. That means that you should be using the QuickBooks backup feature, and including the TLG file in your set of files that are backed up daily (or at least very often). It adds one more level of safety to your backup plan, in case you run into an odd situation. Sometimes, for example, you can have damaged data in your QBW file that just cannot be fixed. The damage may not be noticeable right away, so your daily backups might also be corrupted. A good QBB backup and matching TLG file may be what you need to get back to the point before the damage occurred, and then move forward to your current state.

Note that if you delete the TLG file, QuickBooks will just start another, but it will have limited use as it is incomplete.

Managing QuickBooks Backups and the TLG File

The general concept for managing backups and TLG files is that when you make a backup using the QuickBooks backup feature (from the File menu), QuickBooks will create a file with a QBB file type and clear out the TLG file. The backup has all the transactions saved, so you don’t need that transaction log. From that point on the TLG file will grow again, holding all transactions since that backup.

However, not all backup files are equal. QuickBooks will only delete the TLG file if you make a manual backup with the verify option on.

QuickBooks backup options

If you do not select the complete verification, the TLG file is not cleared and your QBB file cannot be used with that TLG file. In addition, this must be a manual backup, selecting backup from the File menu. A scheduled backup will not perform this function, even if complete verification is selected. QuickBooks Online Backups, or backups that you make yourself with your own backup programs, also won’t work.

The TLG file and your company file must match. You cannot use it, for example, to “merge” transactions from another computer (such as your home laptop, to merge to your office workstation). If you copy a TLG from your laptop back to your office computer, QuickBooks will see that they don’t match and will “reset” the TLG file, lose all saved transactions in the log.

I should note also that making a portable company file has no affect on your TLG file – BUT if you RESTORE a portable company file, it won’t match the TLG file and the TLG file will be reset.

Here is a company file (fairly small) and a TLG file before making the backup:

TLG before backup Here are the files after a manual backup with the verify option on.

TLG after backup So, my recommendations are:

  • DO NOT delete the TLG file if at all possible.
  • PERIODICALLY run a manual QuickBooks backup and save the QBB file
  • INCLUDE the TLG file in your daily backup routine.

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Category: Technical QuickBooks

About the Author ()

Charlie Russell is the founder of CCRSoftware. He's been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70's, and remembers releasing his first commercial accounting software product when you had a one-floppy disk drive system, loading the program from one floppy and then replacing that with the other floppy to hold the data. He has a special interest in inventory and manufacturing software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor with additional certifications for QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Enterprise. He also is a Xero Certified Partner. Visit his CCRSoftware web site for information about his QuickBooks add-on products. Charlie can be reached at charlie.russell@sleeter.com He is also the author of the California Wildflower Hikes blog Connect with Charlie at Google

Comments (12)

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  1. Robert says:

    I have a 2011 database and have done manual, full verify backups and my TLG file is still around a Gig in size. (The QBQ is around 270MB) Any suggestions? The log file folder is over 4.2 Gig. Using lates build. Very annoying.

  2. Robert says:

    Meant QBW is 270MB.

  3. Robert, if the TLG file isn’t shrinking when you do the backup, you may be missing something. Try running the backup from the machine that is the database server.

    Also, there is a lot of talk going around about the new “search” function in the 2011 version possibly making the TLG file build to crazy sizes. I haven’t confirmed that myself. Turning off the search function might be something to consider. Again, I haven’t confirmed this myself so I’ve not written an article about it.

  4. Robert, you might also try copying your company file and .TLG file to the fastest machine on your network with your QB program installed on it and try doing a manual backup there.

    Don’t forget to make sure if you are in a networked environment to confirm that all your QB programs are running the same versions. One of my Seattle clients had this problem.

  5. mATT says:

    My TLG file is 35 gigs, lol. We do a complete system back up rather then QB back up. No wonder why system backups are taking 4 hours. Good thing i started digging who knows how much bigger this is going to get. If QB BACKUP doesn’t get rid of this monstrosity i’m deleting it. Using Enterprise 2011.

  6. RobertSeattle says:

    Seems like turning off the automatic Search updating feature has solved this for us. After a successful full verification backup, I deleted the TLG file and it has stay at around 576KB over the last several hours of QB usage.

    • Robert, I’ve seen several reports that say that. I’ve not had time to investigate that, and I’m not getting any response to my queries about this at Intuit. I didn’t see anything referring to the issue in the recent 2011 R6 update, either.

  7. Nancy Meade says:

    Our 2003 Microsoft Server has crashed and I cannot obtain nor open my Quickbook files. However I do have a TLG file. How can I (if possible move the contents of this file to my Company File. I’m desperate.

  8. Nancy, the TLG by itself won’t do you any good, you have to have a QBW, QBB or QBM copy. If you have a backup (I hope you do, you SHOULD!) then you may be able to get the TLG applied to the backup copy, depending on how it matches.

    Intuit has a data recovery service that can help. However, I would suggest you talk to the folks at http://www.qbornotqb.com, or http://www.accountingusers.com/

  9. Peter Hamberger says:

    I have found that sometimes on the UK 2008 / US2007 version of QuickBooks, that running a manual backup does not clear the TLG file.

    However, i found that by creating a portable backup, and then restoring the from the portable backup clears the TLG.

  10. garth says:

    Hey Charlie, thanks for the articles.

    I’ve taken on a client that has “never” used the QB backup function and has a very large TLG file. it all running very slowly. Problem is I cant run backup even without data checking QB stops responding at 99% (don’t you love that ?) Nuts and bolts fine it’s all local files and apps whilst doing this stuff. So here’s my real question. (We have copies of both qbw and tlg files)

    Q: Is QB using the contents of the TLG file on a daily basis to render transaction info to the main database. In other words if I do delete the current one will I suddenly not have some transactions or entries ?(I understand about the data recovery thing)

    QBW is 693,000 KB TLG is 4,383,000 KB

    Ta all for input , I’m burning too many hours here looking for a result.

    • You can delete the TLG file without harming the normal day-to-day use of QB. It is there for certain kinds of disaster recovery situations – but odds are you won’t use it (few people do) and if you don’t have a valid backup that matches the creation of the TLG initially, the TLG is pretty much worthless now.

      If you can’t do a backup, start by doing a “file recovery” and then examine the QBWIN.LOG file for error messages.

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