Consulting, QuickBooks

Increase QuickBooks® Speed And Performance

Update:  Intuit has now posted detailed instructions for all versions of QuickBooks®.  You can view these instructions here, but please feel free to continue to ask us any questions you might have.

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Update: It has been brought to our attention that in the latest release of QBES 12 and all versions of 13 Intuit has possibly implamented a change that would affect the memory allocation discussed in this artical. I have not been able to test this at this time but I will post a new article once I have some results. The change in question could reset the RAM allocation everytime QuickBooks® starts up, which would cause an issue with the changes discussed in this post. Again more info will be posted soon.

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QuickBooks® speed and performance is something that we all deal with.  As our QuickBooks® files get bigger the worse performance becomes.  When you are dealing with Enterprise the typical file begins to demonstrate performance issues at around 500MB while Pro and Premier files typically show degradation around 256MB.  There are two reasons for this, first the number of transactions and list sizes create more data for the software to work through.  The second reason is what we want to discuss in depth with this post and seems to be something most people don’t know about.

In any system the more data you have in the database the more of an effect you will see on the overall performance of the system; however in a SQL or Oracle type environment you don’t see these types of performance issues with this amount of data.  I don’t have a lot of background in how all the various systems utilize memory and other system resources but I have learned quite a bit about how QuickBooks® seems to work, at least in the area of RAM usage.

When QuickBooks® is installed there is a setting in the registry that tells the system how much of the system’s RAM to utilize initially and the maximum amount it is allowed to use.  In Pro and Premier these numbers are 128MB and 256MB, in Enterprise they are 256MB and 512MB.  What does this mean to us?  Well, the amount of RAM set is going to be how much of your QuickBooks® file is loaded into cache.  It also means that initially it will load the amount of data equal to the lower number, and as the file is used more data will be loaded into cache.  For example, if you have a large file and you open it, 256MB of the data will be loaded and then if you run an A/R Aging report more data will be loaded and so on.

Let’s look at this in relation to a “large” QuickBooks® file.  I like to use our first introduction to a “large” file as an example for all of this.  We were contacted by a customer with a QuickBooks® file that was 1.2GB in size and it contained about a year and a half worth of data.  The client was completely against starting a new file, like most users they wanted to be able to see history when viewing reports and such.  We started with basic troubleshooting, things like network setup and such.  Nothing we tried was helping the fact that a 10 line invoice took 3 minutes to save, and that the user would often surf the web between entering invoices.

We had to find a way to resolve this issue because honestly the customer was close to abandoning QuickBooks® altogether.  One day while speaking with an Intuit employee something was said about this registry setting that could possibly help the situation.  After a little research we found the setting and applied the change on the clients system.  We changed the setting to allow for 2GB of RAM to be dedicated to QuickBooks® to allow for file growth.  Invoice processing went from 3 minutes to 3 seconds, and we had a very happy customer.  Since then we have had a customer that has a 3.8GB file and a 40 line invoice took about 6 minutes to save and now it takes about a minute.

Here are some things to understand about this registry change.  First off, the numbers mentioned above are the defaults; however these may not be the settings your system is using.  I have seen situations where the maximum setting was 32MB!  This means users began to see performance issue after the file reached only 32MB in size, and in an Enterprise file that isn’t very much data.  The only thing I can come up with on this one is that the system did not have the typical 512MB of RAM free at the time of install so QuickBooks® determined that 32MB was the “safe” amount of RAM it could use without causing major issues for the system.  With that being said, I like to check any system I get my hands on to verify that it is at least using the default amount of RAM.  Also, the system information screen (F2) always shows the default numbers at the bottom of the window no matter what the settings are, so don’t go by those.

Something else to keep in mind is that the registry setting will reset when an update is installed, so you will have to make the change again after you update the system.  Please note that this is on the system that is hosting the QuickBooks® file (the “server”) and not on the client.

I could continue to talk about this for some time, but I think the basics have been covered here.  The only other thing I would like to cover is when multiple files are being used at the same time.  You will need to ensure that you have enough RAM allocated to accommodate the total of all the files that are being accessed at the same time by all users.

The final thing I would like to add is that we are changing the system registry and that it is always recommended to make a backup before any modifications are made.

This is not a change that will allow for unlimited file growth, but it will help you get more out of your QuickBooks® file before having to split your file or start a new one.  I hope this has been an educating and helpful piece of information for everyone that reads it and even more importantly I hope it helps make for happier QuickBooks® users!

If you would like to discuss this further, have questions or would like to have detailed instructions on how to make the registry change please feel free to contact us at quickbooks@acsi-az.com.

Consulting, QuickBooks

What’s Your Backup Plan?

We could have many long debates on the topic of cloud computing and on-line services, but that is not where we want to take this post.  We feel that there is a time and a place for everything, but a majority of the time we try to keep services “in house” if at all possible.  However, this is not always the best solution, especially for small business that may not have the resources needed to perform all their necessary day to day activities.

Instead of debating on the practicality of using “the cloud” and covering pros and cons; we would like to take a moment and cover some alternatives you might want to have available for when the cloud your business depends on isn’t available.  We have seen this happen more frequently than many would like (no one wants the access to their data cut off, and it’s really frustrating when you have no control over the recovery of those services) and most notably Intuit has suffered two such outages in a one month period.

Instead of signing up for online services, sitting back and relying on “the other guy” to give you access to your data 24/7 we would encourage you to have a backup plan.  Let’s take a look at some things you can do to ensure that your business doesn’t come to a screeching halt when an unforeseen outage does inevitably occur.

In reviewing many of the forums, twitter and other community sites it seems that Payroll and Credit Card Processing are the largest areas of complaint when someone like Intuit has an outage.  So, what can you do to make sure employees are paid and you are able to collect payments from your customers during a time such as this?

Payroll

Use the IRS site to help calculate pay-checks manually.  Publication 15 – Employer’s Tax Guide, or Circular E, is the tool you’re looking for, you can download Publication 15 here, or you can use a free paycheck calculator such as the one available from Paycheck Manager.  You can then cut checks manually and enter them into QuickBooks® later.

If you are using Assisted Payroll you are going to want to call them to determine them how you should handle your payroll.  They may be able to assist you with processing your payroll over the phone, during the outage.

  • Intuit Online Payroll – 800-624-1465
  • Intuit Complete Payroll – 888-236-4282
  • QuickBooks® Assisted Payroll – 888-712-9702
  • QuickBooks® Do-It-Yourself Payroll – 800-624-2106

Credit Card Processing

Collect the customer’s credit card information (card number, name on card, expiration date, billing zip code and CID are all good things to have) and process the card at a later date.  You can always call the credit card company to verify funds are available.  Yes this takes longer than normal, but you’re still able to conduct business.

  • Vista & MasterCard 800-228-1122
  • AMEX 800-528-2121
  • Discover 800-347-1111

Another option is to sign up for a PayPal account.  You don’t have to use it if you don’t need it and you only pay when you do use it; so there’s no disadvantage to having it there as a backup plan.

We never know when an issue is going to rear its ugly head and for that reason we should have a backup plan in place, ready to implement at all times.  It is extremely frustrating when one of your providers goes down, Intuit for example, but what if your own internet connection, phone system or power goes out?  How are you going to conduct business then?  It could happen to any of us and we need to be prepared.

Think about these things and begin putting a plan together today.  Please feel free to contact us if you need any assistance in developing your “Plan B”, we are here to help!  Make sure that you aren’t one of the businesses turning away sales because you weren’t prepared the next time you see a message informing you that service is currently unavailable.