How to Fix a Corrupted Data File in QuickBooks

We've been seeing a surge in corrupted QuickBooks data files lately.  Here are some of the signs that you've got a problem:

  • Error messages, such as "Company file in use, please wait", invalid protection faults, fatal or unrecoverable errors
  • Transactions can't be saved or QuickBooks suddenly shuts down when saving a transaction
  • Incorrect data on reports, such as missing transactions, negative amounts in accounts that should be positive, unbalanced balance sheets, etc.
  • Missing accounts on your chart of accounts or missing names on your lists

Not experiencing any of these problems yet?  Press F2 to open the Product Information screen and check the number to the right of DB File Fragments – if it's higher than 10 it's just a matter of time.  Your chances of file corruption also increase if your File Size is over 500MB (Pro or Premier) or 1GB (Enterprise), or if you're approaching the list limits for Pro and Premier (i.e., 14,5000 items or 14,500 combined names) which can be found in the List Information box.

It's extremely important not to ignore the signs because once a file is corrupted your company file may suddenly freeze up and won't open.  In this case, you usually have no choice but to either restore a backup (you are backing up your QuickBooks file often, right?) or send the file to Intuit's data recovery team which offers no guarantee and often had a 2 week backlog.  If you're in a hurry (and, really, who can afford to be without their file for 2 weeks?) they do offer expedited service for $750.  

Sound unappealing?  You may want to start proactively working on keeping your QuickBooks data file healthy.  One of the easiest ways is to frequently verify your data.  You can do this manually at File > Utilities > Verify Data but it's even better if you run it as part of a regular QuickBooks backup.  QuickBooks makes it easy by automatically reminding you to back up your file after a certain number of company file closes. For instance, if you want to verify once a week and you open your file once per day, you can set QuickBooks to backup with complete verification (this is important) when you close your company file 5 times.  You can set your options at File > Save Copy or Backup, select Backup copy and click on Options.

But, you say, you regularly backup all your computer files every single night – why do you need to backup through QuickBooks too?  While this a wonderful practice, and if you ever need to restore a backup you'll be glad you do, it's doing nothing at all to help keep your QuickBooks file healthy.  Though you can manually verify your data, why not schedule a backup reminder from right within QuickBooks?  Not to mention you can never have too many backups.

Already experiencing data corruption problems?  Here is a list of things you can do to try to fix it yourself, but you may need professional help. If you want to attempt this on your own, I recommend working on a test file that you save to your desktop.  If it works, you can copy it to your regular QuickBooks file directory.  If not, you'll still have your original file available to send to someone with more experience working with corrupted files.

1.  Click F2 to open the Product Information screen and check that you're using the most recent release – shown on the top line.  If you aren't, go to Help > Update QuickBooks to download it.  

2.  Backup your data file by going to File > Save Copy or Backup and selecting Backup copy.  Click on the Options button and make sure Complete Verification is selected.  After QuickBooks verifies your data you may get a message that you you need to rebuild your data.  If so, proceed with the rebuild.  Once done, close your file by going to File > Close Company/Logoff, re-open it, and check to see if the problems are fixed.  If they are, congratulations!  Now just remember to verify your data often.  If not, move on to step #3.

3.  Re-sort your lists.  The easiest way to do this is to use CTRL-W to open the Write Checks screen, make sure your cursor is in Pay to the Order of, and then use CRTL-L to open the Names List.  Click the Name button and select Re-Sort Lists.  Once done, close your file, re-open it, and check to see if the problems are fixed.  If not, move on to step #4.

4.  Verify your data again by going to File > Utilities > Verify Data.  Regardless of whether you receive an error message this time, go ahead and rebuild you data at File > Utilities > Rebuild Data.  If you did get an error message, verify data a second time and rebuild again if needed.  Once done, close your file, re-open it and check to see if the problem are fixed.  If not, move on to step #5.

5.  Create a portable file by going to File > Save Copy or Backup and selecting Portable company file.  Save it somewhere easy to locate like your desktop.  Then restore the portable file by going to File > Open or Restore Company and selecting Restore a portable file.  Check to see if the problem is fixed.  You may want to do this 2-3 times.

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This article is provided for informational purposes and is not intended to be construed as legal, accounting, or other professional advice. For further information, please consult appropriate professional advice from your attorney and certified public accountant.

Ruth Perryman - QuickBooks Specialist Written by +Ruth Perryman

Ruth is the an Intuit Premier Reseller that offers great deals on QuickBooks POS and QuickBooks Enterprise. She has provided expert QuickBooks help to thousands of businesses all over the world since 1996.

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6 Responses to How to Fix a Corrupted Data File in QuickBooks

  • Hey, Ruth- great site and great info!

    I’m having an issue with writing checks… I select the account to draw from, enter the check number, and all other info in the check fields, then I print the check. The check prints fine, but when I save the check to write the next check, the “print later” box gets checked, and the check number is replaced with “to be printed”. My cursor is nowhere near the “print later” check box to accidentally select this. It will happen randomly, some days every check I write comes up as to be printed, and other days, every check prints and saves correctly numbered. There is no error code, as QB thinks everything is fine.

    I think it is a bug in the software, but QB says my file is corrupted. I did not have this issue in QB Pro 2011, it only started when I upgraded to QB Pro 2013. Have you ever heard of this bug? TIA!

    • Hi Scott,

      I’d just batch print my checks. Check “To be printed” for all of them, then go to File > Print Forms > Checks and enter your starting check #. It’s a lot easier and quicker than printing each check separately.

      But since Intuit thinks your file is corrupted, I’d follow the instructions above for fixing it…just in case.

      Good luck!

  • Dear Madama

    I am using Quick Book Point of sale v9 and today i am getting follwing message “Could not the ponit of sale company data “PIERIS MOTORS” error no 181016

    Pls advice how to resolve the above problem

    Thank you

  • While entering expenses in checking, the billable box has a lightning bolt. The expense will not show up on the ADD TIME/COST tab, missing the reimbursement. None of the subs have online banking so it is not that. Help! Thanks

    • Hi Belinda,

      This is from in-product Help (search for lightning bolt and it’s the fourth one down).

      Lightning bolt appears in the billable checkbox in the split window of an online bank register

      You attempt to use online banking and you notice that the lightening bolt icon displays in the billable checkbox in the split window of your online bank register.

      Why this is happening
      This can occur if the transaction, the customer, or the vendor account becomes damaged. Such damage can occur if the item is frequently used and you have recently converted your file through multiple years of QuickBooks software.

      How to fix it
      Solution: Merge the damaged name into a new one.

      Before proceeding with these steps, create a backup of the company file.

      Locate the problem transaction and determine if the name is a Customer or Vendor.
      Create a new name for that Customer or Vendor
      Go to the Customers menu and select Customer Center.
      Click New Customer & Job then select New Customer.
      Enter the same Customer Name but with a “1” appended to it.
      Re-enter the customer’s information.
      Click OK.
      Go to the Vendors menu and select Vendor Center.
      Click New Vendor… and select New Vendor.
      Enter the same Vendor Name but with a “1” appended to it.
      Re-enter the vendor’s information.
      Click OK.
      After creating the new customer or vendor, double-click the original Customer or Vendor.
      In the Edit window, change the original customer or job name (at the top of the window) to the new customer or vendor name
      Click OK.
      Click Yes to confirm that you want to merge the two names under the same name.