Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28

Chapter 26

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Observations are useful within QuickBooks and at the operating system level.

Take its temperature.   Almost anyplace in QuickBooks, press Control-1 (the key above Q) or z-1, for a diagnostic display XE "diagnostic display" . (In earlier versions, its is Help|About QuickBooks and then Control-T.)

Product tells version and release XE "release level:of QuickBooks"  number, to tell if you have the latest.  During the life of one version XE "version:of QuickBooks" , the program may be updated by maintenance releases.  QuickBooks 5 has online updates, by clicking  Online|QuickBooks Update Service.   For earlier versions, the web site, accessible as www.intuit.com/ QuickBooks will have the latest information, which can be expected to change after this book is published.  In Version 4.0D the D stands for CD ROM version.

Customer number XE "Customer number"  is your registration number XE "registration number"  with Intuit, and should be written down where you can find it, perhaps inside the front cover of the user manual or on the program distribution disk.  If you have to recover from a hard drive crash, this saves calling Intuit.  In some instances of file damage, this will save you trouble.

Free USER Resources XE "USER Resources"  should remain above 50%, but is not usually an indicator of problems in QuickBooks.

GDI Resources XE "GDI Resources"  refers to the loading of the Graphics Display Interface system, and should be watched when running under Windows 3.1.  Above 50% available is preferred; below 40% is jeopardy.  A number as low as 25% will not be seen, because the computer would have already crashed.  QuickBooks is good at using up GDI, as is Collage Complete, used to capture and edit the screen images.  This has impacted the writing of this book.  Under Windows 3.1 XE "Windows 3.1" , after a few crashes, I learned to be careful about how many applications I have open.  You may find the unpleasant answer that QuickBooks does not share well, and you cant keep as many programs running as you wish. 

Windows 95 XE "Windows 95"  has far fewer problems with available resources.  Converting to Windows 95 was not easy, but has allowed me to run with QuickBooks, the Collage screen capture and screen edit programs, a word processor, and a spreadsheet (needed to track a thousand screen shots.)  Minor problems remain.  Now and then, a program will get squiggly.  The solution is to close each data file, shut down each program, and re-boot.  I have not encountered any data loss.

Back up to floppy disks, or other removable medium.  Make the backup directly to the floppies.  The floppies should be newly formatted, on the same drive.  Two backups would be a good idea.  Do not back up to the hard drive.  When trouble appears, we should avoid writing anything to the hard drive, at this point.  As an alternative (probably safer) shut down QuickBooks and back up the company file using the backup program in the operating system.

File system XE "file system"  condition should be checked, using SCANDISK or CHKDSK, allowing corrections to be made.  This is better done with Windows shut down.  In Windows 95, click the Start button, then Shutdown.   Select Restart the computer in MS-DOS mode.  Windows 3.1 only needs Alt-F4.  Then type SCANDISK and press Enter.  You may first need the command CD\WINDOWS\COMMAND (Windows 95) or CD\DOS (Windows 3.1.)  If you are running MS-DOS 5.0, type CHKDSK and press Enter, but the problem may be that any system system that old is too small.  If cross-links or lost allocation units are found, the damage is done, and it is a matter of putting the pieces together again.  Scandisk will suggest a surface scan, but I recommend against that.  Modern hard drives are subjected to high-stress tests at the factory.  Weak areas are identified and fenced off.

File systems face a problem.  Your QuickBooks company data file, for example, keeps growing, so a larger file is needed on the disk.  Meanwhile, a different file has been written, beginning at the end of the original length of your company file.  The original piece stays where it is, and the addition is written elsewhere . Generally, the operating systems handles this situation with finesse.  Sometimes we find lost allocation units, pieces of disk space that are neither parts of files nor listed as available space.  In a very few cases, they are part of files, and data recovery technicians can put them back together again.  A different problem is called cross linking.  One stretch of the disk is listed as parts of two different files.  Obviously, one file has a problem .  The scanning program does its best, making two files, with shared portion copied into both of them.  With luck, one will be OK.  The other will be useless.

Hard drive copy XE "copy:company file" , of the company file, to a different file name is a good idea, once the file structure is known to be sound.  Use the copying capability provided in the operating system.

Restoring a recent backup may be necessary, in spite of its obvious (and not so obvious) negatives.  Some data will need to be re-entered.  Use a different file name, do not overwrite an existing hard drive file. In rare cases, the backup will be bad. Once a backup begins to overwrite an existing file, the existing file is gone.

Interfering programs XE "interfering programs"  can be a problem, albeit rarely.  This problem appears a little more frequently in Macintosh systems, where it may be necessary to start without extensions (hold down the shift key.) In Windows, Shift-Escape brings down a task list, which may name some programs that you can do without.  If they are in the StartUp window, they will always be started when Windows starts.  Windows 95 seems to be a little less subject to interference between programs, if you have QuickBooks 4.0 or above.

Windows 3.1 is based on MS DOS, and programs may be started with CONFIG.SYS or AUTOEXEC .BAT.  Systems using MS DOS 6._ may be started with some of the programs left out, by pressing F8 when DOS begins to load.  Windows 95 may have a legacy CONFIG.SYS  and AUTOEXEC.BAT.

Operating system XE "operating system"  damage is possible, whether Windows 3.1, Windows 95, or Mac OS.  If this is suspected, the fastest thing to do is to re-install.  Users with Windows 3.1 may need to re-install DOS first.  I am not aware of any diagnostics that can specifically check for operating system damage.

QuickBooks program file damage XE "damage:QuickBooks program files"  is possible, and the solution is also to re-install.  If the file is very large, this will be faster than rebuilding data.

Company data file XE "company data file"  problems are a possibility.  The file could be the victim of external damage, or QuickBooks might have made mistakes.  The latter seems less of a problem now, as succeeding versions of QuickBooks have seemed to be more reliable in handling their data.

Verify Data XE "Verify Data"  examines the company data file, but makes no changes.  The intent is to see if Rebuild Data is necessary, but the correlation seems less than perfect.  Files may look OK to Verify, but be corrected by Rebuild, and a file may get through Rebuild two or three times, and still show errors in Verify.  It is worth trying.  Click Window|Close All and then File|Utilities|Verify.

Rebuild Data XE "Rebuild Data"  is designed to correct certain, specific problems. If these problems exist, Rebuild Data will correct them.  If the file has other problems, the results are not certain.  The problems might be made worse.  That is the reason for copies and backups.  Rebuild Data should be started only if you do not suspect problems in the operating system or QuickBooks program file.  In Windows 3.1, a large, permanent swap file (virtual memory,) at least 16 megabytes, is a good idea.

Protect your position.   In addition to floppy disk backups, a hard drive copy is a good idea. 

Click Window|Close All , then File|Utility|Rebuild Data.   A backup copy will be required.  When the backup is completed, Rebuild will proceed immediately.  On a very large file, Rebuild can run hours, or more than a day. Before starting, shut down other programs.  QuickBooks will need the computer all to itself when Rebuild is running.

Technical Support XE "Technical Support"  may have to be called.  As this book was being written, purchase of QuickBooks included thirty days of free tech support.  The thirty days begins with the first call.  This is a matter of company policy, and subject to change. 

A call to tech support begins before you reach for the phone. Be prepared.  They need to have you at your computer, with QuickBooks running. It is worthwhile to have some information written on a paper, and be ready to take notes.  Remembering all of the call may be difficult.  Should you be tempted to try the obvious solution, remember that the law in many places prohibits recording a telephone conversation, except with the knowledge and agreement of both parties.

Assess the problem and describe it in QuickBooks terms.  Account names unique to your company may have meaning to you, but will slow down the call.  Whatever steps you are taking or actions you expect, be ready to describe the problem to the technician in the terms the program uses.  If not, the call will be prolonged while you dig for the needed terminology.

Your name will probably be requested, plus your phone number and customer number. 

Version and release will also be needed.  The technician will need to know what he or she is working with.  And for the benefit of chauvinists, he or she makes no difference.  If you come from a culture that believes that women cant be technically competent, do not deny yourself access to good help.  I cant promise you a good tech, but having been there, I have seen clearly that gender makes no difference.

Get the technicians identity, probably a first name and extension number.  Ask if there is a case number for your call. This advises the tech that the job should be done right.  If any follow-up becomes necessary, it is good to know who gave (or tried to give) you help.

Record the date and time of the call.

When the tech is helping you, try to take some notes, as to what was done.

After the call, go over your notes and fill in anything else you remember. 

Severe problems with data may require efforts of Intuits data recovery technicians.  This can be arranged only through calling Tech Support.  Disks must be sent in.  A two-week turnaround is good, and a month may be needed.  The programs used in data recovery run for hours, like Rebuild, and several may be needed, so there is a reason for the long cycle.   There is no certainty that data recovery will be successful, all leading to the notion that frequent backups are a good idea.

On-line technical support is limited.  As of the publication date, QuickBooks Forum is available in CompuServe, where a few people participate on a user-to-user basis.  Some find useful answers.  At one time , Intuit supported this Forum.  Support was withdrawn in July of 1996, along with the end of unlimited free telephone technical support.  I have been a regular contributor in the past.  With the publication of this book, I must become reluctant to show my name there.  In particular, if a Forum message is addressed to me but requests information available here, I may not reply.

The web site, www.intuit.com XE "www.intuit.com" , has an extensive library of standard answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs.)  Clicking a browse button lets you see the various sections, and answers available in them.  Some users in the CompuServe Forum have berated the web site, alleging that it only contained what they knew anyway, and did not answer their specific problem. From the authors point of view, I dont see it killing the market for this book.  On the other hand, it does contain some specialized information that has not been duplicated here.


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Last modified: May 21, 2004