How to properly backup QuickBooks Databases

Lot have been written and said about QuickBooks backups, different approaches, method etc. One thing is for sure; backup is critical and should never be underestimated. When everything goes wrong you will always turn to your backups; thus your backups should be there, up to date, ready to be used, updated and the most important, reliable. Simply imagine the day that you will turn to your backups to only discover that your backups are 3 months old or simply are not working.

Six major things that you should always remember and do.

  • Backup is critical and should never be underestimated.
  • Establish / plan reliable backup procedures and periodically check their performance
  • Backups should be up to date
  • Backups should be tested for validity
  • Backups should be saved on different locations
  • Periodically run a disaster scenario to test if your recover plan works the way you have planned it.

Lot of IT experts may establish a normal NT or Windows backups which is also good but is not enough. Let me explain why. Any other backup solutions outside QuickBooks internal backup will just make a copy of QuickBooks databases (QBW) to your backup location, that’s it. From the other hand, QuickBooks internal backup will do the same, plus, it will check your database for integrity and will let you know if your database should be rebuild or not,  and this is the most important comparative difference between NT or other backup solutions and QuickBooks internal backup because it provides reliability over your backups and over your current working database. Having a plan for both NT backup and QuickBooks Internal backup is an ideal since it will increase your restore options.

QuickBooks backup will only make a good reliable backup of your database but it will not backup your template logos or QuickBooks letters or attachments; thus, a combination of NT or windows backup and QuickBooks internal backup is important and recommended.


There are mainly 3 different approaches for QuickBooks backup.

  1. Make a manual backup every time you need one (every time you do changes on your QuickBooks database)
  2. Setup QuickBooks to make an automatic backup every time you close the database
  3. Setup QuickBooks to schedule regular backups.

1. Manual Backup every time you do changes on your database

Even though you may run the backup while QuickBooks is running on a multi user mode, it is not recommended because complete verification option which is recommended for integrity check is only available on single user mode; thus, run the backup only in single user mode to ensure that a complete verification is on and your backup and the current database has been tested for integrity.

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. From the top menu select File > Switch to Single User Mode. You may avoid this step if you are already logged in in single user mode.
  2. From the top menu select File > Create a Backup
  3. If you have already setup the Options then click Finish. If this is the first time you do the backup then click Options.
  4. Click Browse to select the backup destination
  5. You may select the Add the date time option. This will add a date time stamp to your backup files as a suffix. It is easier for you to keep several backups of the same database to the same backup location. You can also set the number of backups to keep. i.e. 7. QuickBooks will ask you if you want to delete older backups (the 8th backup in case you have set the number of backups to keep = 7)
  6. Click the OK button.
  7. Click Next
  8. Select the option Save it Now and click Next and Save

It is always a good idea that you you open the backup location and check your backup for it’s size. For example, if your QuickBooks database is 50 MB and your backup file is only few kilobytes then something went wrong.

The next time you run the backup you follow the steps 1 and 2 but you can simply click the Finish button directly if there is no change on the backup location path.

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2. Automatic Backup every time you close the database

This type of backup is ideal if you are the only QuickBooks user for the specific database. You never need to remember to backup every time you do changes. You simply setup QuickBooks to run a backup every time you close the database.

  1. Switch to Single user mode
  2. File > Create Backup
  3. Click Next
  4. Select Only Schedule future backups and click Next
  5. Select the option Save backup copy automatically when I close my company file every….
  6. Set the number of times
  7. Click the Options button to select the backup location and other options.
  8. Click Finish
  9. Close QuickBooks and see the backup running.

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Schedule regular backups

Scheduling automatic backups sounds cool but it requires that your computer is up and running plust that you lose the option for complete verification.

  1. Switch to Single user mode
  2. File > Create Backup
  3. Click Next
  4. Select Only Schedule future backups and click Next
  5. Click New on the bottom and complete the options (you will also need to set the windows credentials. Make sure that Windows has permission to access your backup location path.
  6. Click the Ok to save.

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