In Part 1 of this series on List Damage we learned that QuickBooks stores much of your data in tables that make-up the various QuickBooks 'lists'. QuickBooks list errors arise from any number of reasons, usually resulting from corruption to the specific list table during an improper shut-down of QuickBooks (such as sudden power failure), or a programmatic error resulting in an Unrecoverable fault while updating a list. We also looked at how to prevent list damage including proper procedures for 'resorting' lists.
In this article we want to look at some specific types of list damage and consider possible steps for resolution of list related issues.
Irregularities in QuickBooks Lists
Missing list (elements) information is a common indicator of QuickBooks data-file corruption. Names are missing from the Customer Center, the Vendor Center or Employee Center even though they are not inactive. Sometimes these names may even appear in the Master Names List which we will discuss in a bit, but not in their corresponding ‘type’ of names list. Sometimes the missing list elements occur in the Chart of Accounts, or other lists such as Items. On some occasions, spurious characters appear in your lists in lieu of one or more actual names. Additional indications of list related data corruption include things like:
- The various List drop-down lists are missing names, or do not work at all;
- No transactions appear upon highlighting a Customer, Vendor or Employee;
- Account numbers (for the Chart of Accounts) cannot be turned on or off;
- New entries to lists appear with ‘funny’ characters or spaces at the start (see below)
QuickBooks 'Missing Names' form of List Corruption
Sometimes missing list elements result from corruption of one or more of the QuickBooks list tables and may be resolved by resorting this list and then running the Rebuild utility; in other instances, such as the case shown above, this damage was only one small indicator of major data-file corruption that required exhaustive efforts to repair.
Duplicate List Errors
Under some conditions, including program glitches, QuickBooks fails to prevent a duplication of list data. In some instances, such duplication is created by failure of the QuickBooks merge data function, resulting in duplication. Because the primary index field of such list tables is duplicated, mismatches of data (sources & targets) occur and/or reference indexing becomes corrupted. In some cases QuickBooks detects the problem and may display an informational or warning message such as the one shown below; however, in some cases such detection doesn’t occur until the Verify Data utility is run.
List Damage - Duplicate Names Message
The QBWin.log file will display a message similar to that shown below.
QBWin - Duplicate list entry Error
None of the ‘automated’ processes available within QuickBooks will resolve a real duplication; however, in most cases, simply renaming, or performing a successful ‘merge’ of the duplicate list elements will resolve this form of corruption.
List Index Errors (Invalid, Missing or Out-of-range Indexes)
In databases, such as QuickBooks, an index points or refers to one part of a table. These indexes are designed to help you get faster results, when performing a specific function within the program, but these indexes can get corrupted due to software faults. An example of this type of error found in the QBWin.log file, which maybe correctable is:
QBWin - Verify Memorized Report List Index Error
Many index errors can be corrected using either the Rebuild Utility or by creating and then restoring a Portable Company File which creates a complete re-indexing of the Company file as it is being restored.
Another example of a list related index error is shown below; these errors are commonly correctable by following the procedures to resort, re-index and rebuild lists.
QBWin - List Index Errors
List ‘Sub-element’ Errors
When a QuickBooks list becomes damaged to the extent that the sub-elements of the list appear in the wrong sequence or are no longer properly associated with their parent-elements, a ‘Sub-element’ Error exists. For example, in the case of a Sub-account within the Chart-of-Accounts, the error maybe identified in the QBWin.log file as:
QBWin List sub-element Errors
Begin resolution by verifying that all accounts and sub-accounts are grouped correctly. One method of doing so is to not only examine the list within the QuickBooks Chart-of-Accounts list window, but to export the list to Excel. Unfortunately, QuickBooks lists, while permitting you to add or subtract a great deal of list information from the list windows by changing the ‘column’ display for such lists, does not permit you to add the important list item number, the list_id, that unique number identifying the entry in the Chart-of-Accounts list. By exporting the QB list to Excel you can identify this number.
Simply using the option to “Export all items” from the Excel Menu of the Item List will not produce the desired list in Excel, nor will producing an Item Listing from the Report menu and then exporting that report to Excel. The only way to capture all of the essential information to review is by using the iiF Export Utility and then allowing Excel to convert the iiF file so that it can be reviewed. Even this list is imperfect in that it does not reflect each and every field within the QuickBooks Account table.
Creating and Resorting the "Master Names List"
When you have problems involving any of the four primary 'names' lists, Customers, Vendors, Employees and Other Names, you need to also consider the effects of those problems on the QuickBooks "Master Names" list. The Entity table (as it is know by programmers) contains all the names of all Customers, Vendors, Employees and Other Names. While you can not ‘find’ this list anywhere within QuickBooks, you can (and should) create this all inclusive Names list, sometimes referred to as the “Master Names List”.
To create an all inclusive Master Names List which corresponds to the Entity table QuickBooks uses internally, open a blank check, then place your cursor in the Payee field of the check, now press CTRL + L, QuickBooks will display the Name List (see below). You can add this list to your Icon Bar by clicking on the View Menu while the Name List is displayed, and then selecting the “Add Name List to Icon Bar” option from the View Menu.
Master (Entity) Names List
It is very important to have this Name (Entity) list available. This list is used by QuickBooks to record Payee information on all checks; as such it is necessary that the list be capable of being resorted and put in ‘Flat-view’ format prior to rebuilding the QuickBooks database. Many times this list is ‘overlooked’ when preparing all lists for rebuilding; simply resorting and flat-view-formatting the individual lists does not affect this combined list; as such the Entity list used in checks can only be prepared for rebuilding by accessing the Name list.
Resorting the Master (Entity) Name List
To Resort the Master (Entity) Name List:
- Open the Master Name List.
- Place a check mark in Include Inactive check box at the bottom of the list.
- Click the Name button at the bottom of the list; when the Menu opens select Flat View.
- With the Name list Menu sill open, select Resort List.
- Click OK on the message "Are you sure you want to return this list to its original order."
You should always 're-sort' this list both prior to, and following, a re-sort of all of your other 'names' lists when you encounter 'names related' list damage.