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Resolve QuickBooks Desktop performance issues: Manage your data file

If you are having issues with the performance of your QuickBooks Desktop, your company file may be the root cause. You have options you can use to resolve such issues.

QuickBooks' performance decreases as the size of the company file increases. There are no actual limits on the size of your company data file, but performance may be hindered if your network is not capable of handling large data files.

This is Part 2 of a series covering performance issues in QuickBooks Desktop and how to resolve them. If the steps outlined here do not resolve your issues, try the steps in the other articles:

Before proceeding, make sure all QuickBooks installations, including the Database Server Manager on the host or server, are up to date. To update QuickBooks, check out Update QuickBooks Desktop to the latest release. To update the QuickBooks Database Server Manager, see Install, Update, and Set up the QuickBooks Database Server Manager.

Recommendations to resolve performance issues

Reduce the size of the company file

If you have a large file and performance is slower than what is needed, you can reduce the size of your company file. Be aware that all of these options are complex and require a lot of time and work. You can:

  • Truncate your company file. This capability is not built in to QuickBooks, nor does Intuit offer truncation as a separate service. You can remove transactions up to a selected date and then set up opening balances as of that date. You can truncate by (1) Sending your company file to a third party vendor OR (2) Obtaining third party data transfer and opening balances applications. For Us only, truncating your file in a previous calendar year should not affect DIY with DD payroll. If you have Assisted Payroll, consult Payroll Support before truncating your file.
  • Start a new company file.
    • US only: Starting a new company file will not affect Desktop Payroll DIY with Direct Deposit. If you have Assisted Payroll, consult Payroll Support before starting a new file.
    • If you decide to start a new company file, you have two options:
      1. Use the Condense Company Data option to delete all transactions. This leaves you with a shell that has only your lists. (applies to US only)
      2. Create a new file from scratch. This sounds simple, but is potentially a lot of work and will take time.
        1. In the old file, go to File > New Company. Follow the wizard that appears.
        2. In the old file, export your lists. Open the files and clean them up by deleting inactive or no longer needed list entries. See Export or import IIF files for steps to export your lists.
        3. Import the cleaned files into the new file. See IIF Overview: import kit, sample files and headers.
        4. Set up the opening balances. Go to www.marketplace.intuit.com to find utilities that will do this for you.

Set company and personal preferences

Company Preferences

  1. Log in to your company file as the Administrator.
  2. If in multi-user mode, go to File > Switch to Single User Mode.
  3. Once in single-user mode, go to the Edit, and then choose Preferences.
  4. From the left menu, select Bills.
  5. Select the Company Preferences Tab.
    1. Clear the Warn about duplicate bill numbers from the same vendor checkbox.
    2. Select Yes in the Save Changes window.
  6. From the left menu, choose Items & Inventory.
    1. Clear the Warn about duplicate purchase order numbers.
    2. Click Yes in the Save Changes window.
  7. From the left menu, choose Sales & Customers. Clear these checkboxes:
    • Warn about duplicate invoice numbers.
    • Warn about duplicate Sales Order numbers.
    • Click Yes in the Save Changes window.
  8. From the left menu, choose Search.
    1. Clear the Update automatically checkbox.
    2. Click Yes in the Save Changes window.
    3. When all of the company preferences are set, click OK.

Personal Preferences

  1. Go to the Edit Menu and then choose Preferences.
  2. Click the My Preferences Tab.
  3. From the left menu, chose Desktop View.
    1. Select Don't save the desktop option.
    2. Clear the Show Home page when opening company file checkbox.
    3. Clear the Show Getting Started checkbox.
    4. Click Yes in the Save Changes window.
  4. From the left menu, chose General.
    1. Select the Keep QuickBooks running for quick startups checkbox.
    2. Click Yes in the Save Changes window.
      Note: This option is a trade off:
      • If checked, QuickBooks starts faster, but may run slower.
      • If unchecked, QuickBooks starts slower, but may run faster.
  5. From the left menu, chose Reminders.
    1. Clear the Show Reminders List when opening a Company File checkbox.
    2. Click Yes in the Save Changes window.
  6. From the left menu, chose Reports & Graphs.
    1. In the Reports and Graphs section choose Don't Refresh.
      Note: Reports will refresh only when you choose to do so. This preference can increase your performance if you have several reports open while you are entering transactions.
    2. Click to select the Prompt me to modify report options before opening a report checkbox.
  7. When all of your personal preferences are set, click OK.

Automatic Updates

  1. From the Help menu, choose Update QuickBooks.
  2. Click the Options tab.
  3. In the Automatic Updates section, select No.
  4. Click Close.
  5. Click OK.

Optimize QuickBooks operations

  1. Reduce your DB File Fragments. Excessive DB File Fragments can degrade the performance of your computer. See Database (DB) file fragments for more information.
  2. Resort your Master Name List (customers, vendors, employees and other names), your Chart of Accounts and your Item List. Do this to your lists weekly. Use steps from: Qbwin.log: Verify Account Balance failed.
  3. Verify your company file weekly. See Resolve data damage on your company file.
  4. Transaction log files (TLG ) keep track of changes to the file since the last backup. Large TLG files can cause performance issues. However, do not delete the TLG file. Instead, make a manual backup with full verification to reset the TLG.
  5. Since QuickBooks Desktop re-indexes the data when restoring a portable company file, create and restore a portable company file. See Create or restore a QuickBooks portable company file for details.
  6. Do not enter zero lines on transactions. A zero line (with a zero price or quantity) adds another target to your data file and increases the size of your data file. Zero lines slow QuickBooks' performance and, if you run cash basis reports with inventory, your COGS could be incorrect.
  7. Run accrual reports instead of cash: Many transactions, i.e. more than 50,000, tend to degrade the Sybase Sequel server. Cash basis reports take longer to run because QuickBooks must check transactions' links to determine what is paid and unpaid.
  8. If QuickBooks runs slowly when doing payroll, have other users log off and perform payroll tasks in single-user mode.
  9. Close QuickBooks windows that you are not currently using.
  10. Clear the queues of forms to be printed or e-mailed.
  11. If you are the only user in the data file, switch to single-user mode.
  12. Reboot your workstations daily.
  13. Log out of the data file if you are not actively using it and do not stay logged in to the company file overnight
  14. Perform long tasks in off-peak hours (e-mail or print batches of invoices or statements) in the off-hours (before normal hours, lunch time or overnight)so they do not take resources from other users.
  15. Optimize reports. Running reports is an intensive QuickBooks operation as it draws together a lot of data. Optimizing reporting and printing reports can save considerable amount of time and resources. The Sales Tax Liability Report and the General Ledger report tend to be long reports. Here are some tips:
    • Run long reports in the off-hours, during lunch, overnight, over the weekend.
    • Customize and memorize long reports.
    • Copy your company file to an unused workstation, set the driver to print directly to the printer and print your report.
  16. Turn off the built in search indexing in QuickBooks Desktop (Edit > Preferences > Search > Company Preferences > (Uncheck) Update Automatically) and rename the <Filename>.qbw.SearchIndex folder.
    IMPORTANT:
    • <Filename>.qbw.SearchIndex folder is automatically created when QuickBooks Desktop search preference is set to automatic. The contents of this folder are utilized by the program to run a quick indexed search when you press F3 in a company file.
    • You can still search in your company file after turning the built in search indexing off, but it will take longer. If turning this feature off did not improve the performance of the program, it is highly recommended to turn it back ON.
    • You can find the .qbw.SearchIndex folder in the same location as your company file.
      Example: C:\Users\Public\PublicDocuments\Intuit\QuickBooks\CompanyFIles\CompanyFileName.qbw.SearchIndex

Maintain lists

Before you start, perform the following:

  1. Create a backup of your data file.
  2. Be aware that once two entries are merged together, the merge can not be undone.
  3. Create an archive copy of your file. If you merge any list entries , open the archive copy to view the history of the merged entries .

List characteristics that can hinder performance

  • Your lists are approaching the list limits. Learn more about the maximum number of list entries (list limits and custom fields).
  • Your lists have a large number of inactive entries that you no longer use.
  • Your customer list has many jobs underneath customers.
  • Your account list has many sub-accounts.
  • Your item list has many sub-items.
  • The Customer, Vendor, and Employee centers have custom-sorted name lists.

Custom Sorted Lists

  1. Open the Center (Customer Center, Vendor Center, etc.) that has performance issues.
  2. To the left of the Name column, ensure there is no diamond column.
  3. If there is a diamond column, click the diamond to remove it. You do not need to be in single-user mode to remove the diamond.
  4. Close the Center and reopen it.

Modify Lists

Chart of Accounts: If you are using sub-accounts to track source of income or use of expenses, merge sub-accounts together or into the parent accounts and set up Classes to do the tracking.

Item List: Merge together old and/or inactive items that are no longer sold. Merged items lose their identity; be sure you have an archive copy with the history of each item.

Customer List: If your Customer:Job list has several, old jobs underneath Customers, merge them together. If you have old, inactive Customers to whom you no longer sell, merge them together. The merged customers and jobs lose their identity; be sure you have an archive copy with their individual history.

Vendor List: If you have old, inactive Vendors from whom you no longer purchase goods, merge them together. The merged vendors lose their identity; be sure you have an archive copy with their individual history.

Employee List: If you have old, inactive Employees whom you no longer employ, merge them together. The merged employees lose their identity; be sure you have an archive copy with their individual history and be sure that you have all of their tax forms up to date, printed and submitted to the appropriate tax agencies.