In our last article we discussed your Local Area Network, in today’s edition we want to focus on your Hardware, the computers that are running QuickBooks. When it comes to performance as regards to Hardware there are a few things that can make a big difference. These depend on the configuration of your QuickBooks in terms of single-user vs. multi-user. Since almost all QuickBooks users ultimately reach multi-user status, we will focus primarily on those things; however, it is simple enough to say that if you are using QuickBooks only in a single-user environment, then the recommendations we make regarding the QuickBooks ‘server’ can be applied to your stand-alone computer running QuickBooks.
The following are the Minimum System Requirements Intuit has set forth for the 2014 Product line:
- Minimum 2.0 GHz processor, 2.4 GHz recommended for a client
- Minimum 2.0 GHz processor , 2.4 GHz recommended for a server
- Minimum 1 GB RAM for single user, 2 GB RAM recommended for multiple users for a client
- Minimum 1 GB RAM, 2 GB RAM recommended for a server
- Minimum 2.5 GB available disk space (additional space required for data files) for client and server
As I said these are the ‘minimums’ and even Intuit’s ‘recommended’ values should be considered minimalistic. Intuit uses these figures to try to keep hardware requirements down in order to prevent users from reject their software due to hardware demands. The problem is that these minimums provide the ‘bare minimum’ of performance. Fortunately most ‘hardware’ these days, at least if it has been purchased within the last 2 years, rarely has the minimums Intuit specifies, it almost always comes with resources geared more toward the recommended criteria.
What Intuit doesn’t tell you about QuickBooks and your computer hardware?
- The faster your ‘hard drive’ the faster your response time for reads and writes that maybe associated with queries. Query is another word for question. In terms of QuickBooks, queries retrieve specific information from the database, perhaps a ‘single record’, or perhaps all of the records that make up a 160 page report. If your computer’s hard drive is running at 5200 RPM the time the drive takes to retrieve the information is significantly slower than if your computer’s hard drive is running at 10,000 RPM. Solid-state drives generally offer improved performance, but also store less information.
- Larger QuickBooks files need ‘more RAM’, and can use that RAM when QuickBooks is properly configured. This is a topic we will address in a future article, but for now let it just be said that even small QuickBooks files will perform better with improved RAM resources because your computer will have more RAM to allocate to the myriad of tasks being performed at the same time QuickBooks is being used. So at this point I will just say that my recommended ‘minimum’ for any computer running QuickBooks, single-user, multi-user client, or server is 4 GB of RAM. As a general practice I do not recommend servers using less than 8 GB of RAM.
- Faster, and routinely by nature of increasing their speed, expanding their architecture, processors do not necessarily guarantee performance enhancements to the extent that either faster hard drives, or more RAM, will improve the performance of QuickBooks. This is because Intuit is still living in a 32-bit world and they have not really done anything to take advantage of processor improvements or the 64-bit design. Dual-core, Quad-core, Six-core, etc. may only seem to make QuickBooks perform faster by allowing other applications and processes being carried out simultaneously with QuickBooks to wiz by without impacting the processing demands QuickBooks is using. My suggestion here is “don’t” spend your money on faster, multiple or latest architecture processors just to get more out of QuickBooks, you are better off spending those dollars that would otherwise be spent to by that ‘second 8-core Xenon’ to purchase faster hard-drives and more RAM. Of course, if you are going to be running some other application on the same machine as ‘little old slow QuickBooks’ that needs the ‘mega-light-speed’ of that 2nd, 3rd or 4th 8-core Xenon, go right ahead and blast your new computer in to cosmic bliss.
- We already discussed your LAN in our last edition, but one brief note here…..if you can afford all those Xeon processors, you can also afford a ‘fiber network’ so just go for it and forget all that stuff I mentioned in my last write-up about ‘copper’. Now you will be getting more ‘bang’ for the ‘buck’ for even QuickBooks performance.
- Protect your investment with a Uninterruptable Power Supply. Power protection is essential for today's computers, it not only safeguards your 'hardware' but it also safeguards your computer applications, and more importantly your data. Every aspect of your computer network, from client-workstations, or network hubs, switches and routers, to servers and data-storage devices should be (MUST BE) protected via a UPS. I mean be stingy with $$$ here if you want, after all it is 'just your data and computer at risk'......N O T ! ! ! (Buy a UPS TODAY, run out and get it right now if you don't have one on 'everything', do not pass go, do not collect $200, just buy the UPS!)
My way of thinking is simple, a computer designed to run QuickBooks is a computer that performs most efficient when running QuickBooks. If you need a computer that can perform sixty-five other tasks while you compile a 160 page general journal from sometime last year, should you really be running QuickBooks at all on this computer?
Most of the clients I work with have people who ‘QuickBooks is their life, well work life that is’; they do QuickBooks, and not much else most of their day. They process invoices, they receive payments; they order inventory and receive it, they pay payroll and payroll taxes, and they write checks and pay bills. Sometimes multiple people are doing some or all of those things. What they need is a computer that provides them with the fastest and most reliable access to their QuickBooks data stored on a QuickBooks ‘server’ that can streamline the disk read/write process and make use of RAM Cache to the extent that it facilitates the most efficient response to user queries of the QuickBooks database.
Most QuickBooks users don’t need to plot celestial navigation courses, or examine how many decimal places they can force their computer to calculate a ‘quidium of nonsense.’ They just want QuickBooks to perform efficiently.
Spend your ‘dollar resources’ wisely, and get the most QuickBooks-valued ‘computer resources’ your resources can buy, that’s a big way to improve QuickBooks performance.