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Fixing QuickBooks Problems: Free Tools You Can Use

April 30, 2013 | By | 22 Replies More

Any time that you are working with a program that runs on Microsoft Windows you have to be ready to fix odd problems that can crop up. QuickBooks is no exception – it relies on many different components and settings in Windows to work properly, and if something isn’t right then QuickBooks just won’t run or install. Let’s talk about some FREE tools that are available to you if you can’t get QuickBooks to install, run or open a company file on your Windows computer.

Fixing these problems can be VERY frustrating because there are an uncountable number of variations in how a Windows computer can be configured. Even if you are successful in getting things running today, the next time you get a Windows Update or install some other program, your QuickBooks installation may fail. Fortunately, Intuit provides us with several tools that can help with many of the problems that you may run into.

Note that these all refer to the Windows Desktop version of QuickBooks, and many of these tools are only available for the US version.

Reboot.bat

This has been around for a long time, but I’m surprised how many advisors don’t know about it. This is a simple “batch” file that QuickBooks will install on your computer. This “re-registers” the various QuickBooks related components with Microsoft Windows.

Without going into a lot of technical detail, just about any program (except small utilities) will most likely be split up into separate “components” that are stored in your system. When you install the program the first time, the installation process “registers” these components with Microsoft Windows so that it knows where they are and that they are executable pieces of the program. This stores information in the “Registry”. Sometimes your “Registry” can be corrupted or altered by some other program, and that may cause a QuickBooks component to be forgotten. The result would be that QuickBooks can’t run properly. The components aren’t deleted or damaged, Windows just doesn’t recognize or find them.

Reboot.bat is a series of commands that will re-register all of the necessary program components with Microsoft Windows. This is a simple, harmless fix that you can try if you can’t get QuickBooks to run.

You’ll find the file in the same folder where your QuickBooks file was installed. Right click on the QuickBooks program icon on your desktop and select Properties, and then click Open File Location (or Find Target in Windows XP). Locate the reboot.bat file and double click it to start it running. Just sit back and let it run, which shouldn’t take long. Then you need to reboot your computer.

See Intuit KB article HOW12420 for details.

QuickBooks Install Diagnostic Tool

Sometimes you just can’t get QuickBooks to install. One of the possible solutions is to run the QuickBooks Install Diagnostic Tool (available at Intuit KB article HOW12407). This will diagnose and repair a number of problems, with the main focus being on the Microsoft .NET Framework (usually error messages 1603, 1904, 1935 and 1722).

This tool is updated often, so if you want to work with it you should always download the latest version. Unfortunately I don’t see where they list the current version number (or release date) in the KB article, but the tool is small and is simple to download.

QuickBooks Component Repair Tool

I didn’t know about this one until my friend Alex at Intuit pointed it out to me. It can be very handy for certain kinds of problems that will prevent QuickBooks from running.

Any time you write a program that runs on Microsoft Windows you are usually relying on a number of “components” that are provided from other sources, including Microsoft themselves. QuickBooks is very typical, and it relies on quite a few different Microsoft components. Unfortunately, there are often many different versions of these components in use by different programs that you install on your computer, so sometimes installing one program may alter the components needed by another program. This SHOULDN’T happen, but it does. Diagnosing and repairing these kinds of problems can be fairly tricky.

The QuickBooks Component Repair Tool (available at Intuit KB article HOW13974) can be used to automatically diagnose and fix issues with several Microsoft components:

  • Microsoft .NET Framework
  • Microsoft MSXML
  • Microsoft Visual C++

QuickBooks File Doctor

The QuickBooks File Doctor (available at Intuit KB article HOW17836) is a tool that you can use to fix certain kinds of file and data corruption, Windows setup problems, and network setup problems. It is not entirely clear to me at this time exactly what problems it will resolve, as the Intuit KB article doesn’t list the issues.

Bill Murphy wrote a two part review of the QuickBooks File Doctor last year, and he was disappointed that it didn’t fix a number of problems in his test file. However, those errors were things like “list corruption” or other database table errors. My understanding at this time is that the File Doctor is aimed primarily at problems that prevent you from opening your QuickBooks file, which usually fall into a different category (and which can be very vexing), as well as networking errors.

There isn’t a comprehensive list of what this tool does. It will address many of the 6000-series errors on file opening, and networking errors like H202 (probably the main one), h303 and H505.

Intuit updates this tool often, possibly as often as once a month, so if you have a situation where you want to try the tool you should always download the latest version. Unfortunately, Intuit doesn’t list the “version” of the tool on their KB article.

This product won’t work with a file larger than 2GB, and the network diagnostic/repair feature might not work properly if you have multiple versions of QuickBooks installed.

Note that this product only works with the US versions of QuickBooks. If you are using the Canadian version of QuickBooks you can use the QuickBooks Canadian Company File Diagnostic Tool. If you are using the UK version of QuickBooks you can use the QuickBooks UK Company File Diagnostic Tool. I suspect that their might be just one tool that works with all three national versions, but I have not tested that in detail.

QuickBooks PDF Repair Tool

I’ve written MANY articles (perhaps too many?) on problems with QuickBooks and the PDF drivers they use. These kinds of problems will prevent you from creating PDF copies of order forms and reports, emailing attached invoices, and reconciling bank accounts. Many of the problems that you could run into can be resolved by using the QuickBooks PDF Repair Tool (available at Intuit KB article SLN40733). Odds are you won’t see that many updates to this tool as time goes on, as a lot of the problems have been fixed starting with QuickBooks 2013 R6.

For an overview of the problems that this tool will fix, look at my article on Digging Into QuickBooks PDF Issues. This tool combines a long list of fixes that people have talked about over the years, including dealing with printer ports, print spoolers, MSXML problems, QBPrint file problems and more.

These Won’t Solve All Problems

This collection of tools won’t cover EVERY problem that you can run into, but they are important tools to have in your toolkit when you are trying to repair a problem installation. They are all free, and very simple to run.

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Category: For Consultants/Accountants, QuickBooks Tips/Tricks, 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 (22)

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  1. William "Bill" Murphy says:

    Here is my ‘ranking’ of those tools on a 1 to 10 scale, for what it is worth.

    Reboot.bat 10
    Install tool

    • William "Bill" Murphy says:

      Sorry something caused that to save before I finished:

      Install tool 8
      Component repair 8
      File Doctor 2
      PDF Repair 6

      The ‘old’ Network Connectivity tool (even though you didn’t include that) a ‘big’ 10

      Murph

  2. I didn’t list the old tool because the old tool isn’t officially supported for US versions, AND there are some things that the new file doctor tool supposedly does that the old network tool didn’t (according to Intuit). Supposedly the file doctor will do what the network connectivity tool did before, as far as for current versions of QB.

    While they may not do everything we would like, I’m pointing these out because they do resolve SOME issues, and for the non-technical user the have some value.

    • William "Bill" Murphy says:

      As far as ‘File Doctor’ is concerned, there is always the ‘remote chance’ that is will work on some problems, so there is ‘no harm’ in someone trying that, but I just haven’t found any thing it can fix.

      Most of the other tools are good and frequently do the trick, although the PDF repair hasn’t always been as useful, but then again, hopefully Intuit is getting most of the PDF issues resolved in maintenance releases.

      “Heading north to Kansas…and Snow is forecast”, it’s May 1st tomorrow and will snow in the heartland…..imagine that.

      Murph

  3. Andrew says:

    Anything tools to help lower the total file size? We tried to “Archive” information from January 1, 2013 and back, but the file size is still the same size.

  4. Bryan says:

    I just updated our 2 copies of M&D 2012 to 2013 last Thursday. Had the software since early January but was afraid to install due to all the bugs in 2013 I heard about. The install on the 2nd pc did not go well. It crashed during the online update installing maintenance release R6 and I had to use a restore point and start over. Worked the 2nd time but could not connect to the QB file resident on the other pc. QB File doctor did not fix it. Eventually I called Intuit support. Ashley in New England tech support logged on to both my pc’s and manually made the needed changes to all kinds of settings. She went so fast I lost track of everything she did.

    However, before the upgrade we regularly had QB crashes/freezes. At least one a day. Since her work, not a single freeze or crash. I suspect it’s not so much attributable to 2013 vs 2012 but rather network and multiuser settings and permissions with windows that were never quite right and now seem to be.

    Intuit really needs a better tool for this type of setup challenge.

    • Bryan, nice to see you leaving comments here!

      You’ve been using QuickBooks for a very long time, and I know that you have undergone a number of hardware changes in that time. QuickBooks itself gets “dirty” over time, and Windows systems also get “dirty” over time, and that makes it tough for software developers. It is hard to anticipate every situation that comes up. I’m fighting a Windows issue on my main system now, even though I’m extremely careful as to what I change AND I have a lot of experience with software.

      I’ll agree that there can be improvements with QuickBooks tools, but I’m not going to say that ALL issues are theirs.

      Unfortunately, the QuickBooks desktop system is built on a lot of very old software, which makes it cantankerous sometimes. I don’t see Intuit overhauling the desktop product in detail, which is what they would really need to do to get rid of a lot of the issues. They are focusing that kind of attention to their online product.

  5. Charlie, Great list of tools. As you note though, these tools often don’t really fix many things that go wrong.

    For example, unbalanced balance sheet. Everyone should periodically check the cash basis balance sheet and verify that total assets=total liabilities and equity. If it doesn’t match, it’s probably due to some transactions that involve two balance sheet accounts. Usually credits on invoices or refunds connected to credit memos. The only way to fix that is to delete and re-add the transactions. A huge pain, and the issue is some bug deep inside QB that has been there forever. I’m afraid if they fix that bug, they’ll break some other important stuff, so I haven’t really cried out to Intuit about it since about 1998. Better to just fix the files manually.

    Anyway, thanks for publishing this list!

    • These tools aren’t aimed at “data repair” for the most part. They are mostly aimed at installation problems. Program components that are missing or damaged, Windows permissions and ports that are not set properly, and so forth. There are some data repair components here, but they are minimal.

      For the most part, data repair actions are handled within the program itself, such as with the Rebuild function, as well as program updates to correct the original problem. If there is truly some data damage, you generally have to go to a repair specialist, or move data to another file.

  6. This was a great summary list. Does anyone have information like this for a QB on a Mac?

  7. Cliff says:

    When is Intuit going to provide a fix for corrupted Memorized reports? Intuit can’t seem to explain why memorized reports become corrupted, or how to prevent them from becoming corrupted. Once corrupted, Intuit’s only answer/solution is to delete the corrupted report (manually or with Rebuild Data)and manually recreate the report.

    http://support.quickbooks.intuit.com/support/articles/SLN41410

    Corrupted memorized reports is a real pain/problem and causes a lot of wasted time building and rebuilding reports.

    • Good question, Cliff. That has been a problem for a LONG time.

      • Reisse says:

        Memorized reports are interesting. Assuming you are dealing with a flat file database of staggering age her is what I have experienced. QBE in this case does not play well when using Sales Orders to create Invoices. If you modify the original document SO or INV ( I know don’t do this!) The links become broken among the inventory line item elements, the SO, INV, annnd Inventory accounting. With the relationship corrupted the results for inventory and sales reports will be incorrect. If you read the log on a rebuild you will see the items that were affected. Sometimes you must correct the documents of original entry before you get a stable database and resulting reports. If you do not use the SO function it appears to be less fussy.I have spent many hours putting this type of data error back together. Luckily, the employee who used this method of correction is now gone. I have had better luck with true relational databases that can be repaired more effectively. Charlie has been a help in the past, thanks.

    • I had a client’s file that used to suffer from this as a recurring problem. I had a tech support rep explain to me that these reports become corrupt and if you delete them and create new reports, the new reports can be written into that same corrupt spot the deleted report was in…thereby leading the new report to become corrupt also. His recommendation was to rename the corrupt reports to “non-working” and/or to move them to a new “Corrupt Reports” memorized report group. Then their corrupt areas would not be reused by new reports. This was a long time ago, so I might have the technical details wrong here, but the point is that following that advice solved the problem and that’s what I always do for clients that experience this problem.

      • Cliff says:

        Mario, as you described, Intuit’s “solution” to corrupted reports is totally bogus, per this Knowledge Base article.
        http://payroll.intuit.com/support/kb/1000463.html

        Why can’t Intuit figure out what is causing the corrupted reports? It is their program. Intuit has billion of dollars and thousands of employees to fix this bug in their own program.

        Their “solution” is just plain lazy and cavalier in my opinion.

        I would suspect every customer that creates memorized reports has faced this bug. That is a lot of customers spending a lot of wasted time recreating reports because Intuit doesn’t want to put some resources on the issue. Totally lame in my opinion.

  8. Dan Ringer-Barwick says:

    Good info, Charlie. You might be just the guy to cover a topic I never see covered: how QB does and doesn’t play nice with Parallels Desktop. I’ve had a few clients who use Parallels to run QB for Windows on a Mac. Most of the time it runs perfectly. The few things that it doesn’t do well tend to be around installations and updates. Hypothetically, there should be no difference, since Parallels creates a virtual machine on the Mac into which a standard version of Windows is installed.

    Intuit, Parallels, and pretty much the whole web are silent on this topic, so if anyone has any consolidated wisdom it would be a great service to the world.

    • Dan, I don’t work with the Mac at all, so I can’t answer that. I know that virtual machine environments often have small little things that don’t exactly match the “real” environment – I even see that with VMWare virtual machines on my PC. QuickBooks uses some very old Microsoft technologies in some places, so it doesn’t surprise me if an emulator just doesn’t quite catch everything.

  9. Pat Peterson says:

    my quick books customer data base that interacts with our POS ACUPOS rewards customer files is Full in both Quick Books and ACUPOS. Feature in ACUPOS will only allow you to delete all customer files. Quick Books says we can only delete one at a time, which I tried and it gives error message saying that this person has more than one transaction so it says to hide it as not active.

    I have 14756 customer files and I am trying to get rid of delete ones that no longer come into our store.

    Any advice? Tech support at Quick Books no help

    • I can’t speak to ACUPOS, as I don’t work with that.

      You are correct, you can only delete a customer in QuickBooks if there are no transactions for them. Of course, if you delete those transactions manually (which takes a lot of time), you change your financial statements, which isn’t what you want.

      You can try to “merge” customers, but that is tedious and doesn’t always work well. I don’t recommend doing that to accomplish your goal.

      There are data compression tools in QuickBooks, but they aren’t all that effective unless you have the Accountant edition.

      There are several products and services that can help:

      -Look at the data management tools by Karl Irvin at http://www.q2q.us/. Several of those may need to be used in combination. Quality tools, but a bit complicated to learn.

      -Find a knowledgeable ProAdvisor who uses Karl Irvin’s tools, who can do the work for you. There are many good people out there who can do this kind of work for you.

      -Send your file to a service that can shrink or reconfigure your file. There are several good ones – I like http://qbornotqb.com/

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