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How to Backup and Restore QuickBooks Data

Consider for a moment the reasons why we don't backup:
  1. No time.
  2. Forgot.
  3. It won't be that bad.
  4. I don't know how to.
For the first three reasons, I'll leave it to you to settle with your inner self. 
I'll try to help here with the fourth one by looking at two related procedures: backup and restore.
Backup and restore data


Before doing a backup, let's clarify two key decisions that you have to make along the way:

1. What is the backup file type?

When you create a backup from the File menu in QuickBooks, you see two similar sub-menus: 
  • File > Create Backup
  • File > Create Copy 

Create Backup proceeds directly to let you create a backup file whereas Create Copy adds one more step to let you choose different backup file types. 

So, what are different file types?
QuickBooks backup copy QBB and portable file QBM
Note: The file type called accountant's copy is an advanced feature where you can share your file with an external accountant using the same version of QuickBooks to merge in adjusting journal entries. This is outside the scope of this article.
In short, one is a full backup while the other a partial backup, recommended to be done as follows:
  • Regularly backup your QuickBooks data as a QBB file
  • Use a QBM file when you need to share only financial data (because the file size is smaller). 


2. Where to save the backup copy (QBB) or portable company file (QBM)?

As a good practice, save any backup file on an external storage medium, e.g., portable hard disk, USB flash drive. 
QuickBooks prompts a message should you set the option to save onto the same drive as the working data file that you're trying to backup.
QuickBooks backup - Save to a different drive
Now, let's go through the backup procedures:
QuickBooks backup procedures


Restoring data is like travelling back in time to the moment when you did your last backup. 
In restoring data, most people are confused by two questions. Let's review them first:

1. Where to restore to? 

In other words, where do you want to store the restored file?
First of all, where does QuickBooks store it's data file? To understand that, you may do this simple exercise now: In QuickBooks (with a company file opened), press F2. 
You'll call up a Product Information page like this:
QuickBooks company data file information
Here, you'll see some crucial information about your QuickBooks and data, including the (Data) File name and location.
Most people don't realise the data file location was specified when you, or your predecessor, first created it. 
Read about How to Create a New Company Data File in QuickBooks here.

2. Do you replace? 

For a new or reformatted computer, you don't have any data file in the computer and this question does not arise. 
However, should the original company data file be still present in the computer, but damaged (which is why you're restoring a backup), this question confirms whether you want to overwrite the original (bad) data file.
Remember that restoring data is travelling back in time to the moment when you did your last backup. Therefore, whatever information from that moment until today, you have to re-key. 
This means that you have to be sure that you're overwriting a bad data file.
With this understanding in mind, let's now now go through the restore procedures as follows: 
QuickBooks open or restore company menu
QuickBooks restore data file procedures
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