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QuickBooks stores data pertaining to Customer:Jobs, Vendors, Employees, Other Names, Accounts and Items, as well as many other things, in several database tables, commonly referred to as QuickBooks lists. Your list elements (the various records that make up a list, such as a Customer), as well as the entire (list) tables, can become corrupted.
QuickBooks lists errors arise from a 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. More complex lists, such as the Items list, Chart-of-Accounts and Customers which tend to have not only ‘parent’ elements but ‘sub-elements’ are more prone to such errors because the index that ties the sub-element to the parent can also become corrupted. For example, a sub-account can become disassociated from its ‘parent’ account within the Chart-of-Accounts.
We want to look at the basics of list maintenance and repair in this article, prior to looking at specific examples of list errors and methods for correcting such corruptions in our 2nd article on this Techno Topic.
Preventing QuickBooks List Corruptions
One way to prevent, or at least reduce the likelihood of, QuickBooks lists is to regularly do some maintenance on lists to resort and re-index even good lists. Our goal is to insure that all QuickBooks lists are configured and indexed properly within the database, hopefully resolving any minor list corruption that exists but which has not yet become noticeable or produced a reportable error. Restoring the various QuickBooks lists (tables) isn’t complicated, and it doesn’t require QuickBooks Administrator rights, but it does require that QuickBooks be in single-user mode. If you are going to take the time to go through the process, you should do so for all of the lists that can be restored within QuickBooks at the same time.
There are three parameters we must consider for most of the QuickBooks lists: Exposure, View and Resorting. Exposure and View deal with how the various QuickBooks lists are displayed, preparing the various lists by properly setting their exposure and view is a fundamental part of restoring these list tables’ integrity. Figure 1 shows a table illustrating the various QuickBooks lists and their parameters.
List Exposure refers to the display of hidden (or inactive) list elements. Almost all QuickBooks lists permit you to make elements ‘inactive’. Sometime Users are not even aware than there are inactive elements in their list, especially when a user has inherited the QuickBooks Company file from a prior bookkeeper or accountant. Some QuickBooks lists permit you to ‘expose’ the inactive list elements by checking a small box at the bottom of the list that reads, “Include inactive”. QuickBooks Centers do not have the little check-box; these centers (like the Customer Center for example), allow you to view “Active Customers”, “All Customers”, and “Customers with Balances”. The “All Customers” displays the active and inactive customers regardless of balance status, this is the same result as checking the “Include inactive” box on list with that option.
Most list Centers and individual lists are always displayed in a manner that ‘hides’ the inactive elements of a list. All of the lists we will be referring to in this discussion can be ‘fully exposed’ by simply checking the “Include inactive” box at the bottom of each list window to the right of the list menu. This is the first step in correcting list corruption; refer to Figure 1 for all lists that need to be exposed.
List View refers to the manner in which list elements are displayed within Centers or individual list windows. Many QuickBooks lists permit you to create a ‘hierarchy’ of list elements; for example, Customers can have Jobs (as a sub-level) and even sub-jobs (as a sub-level to a job). The Chart of Accounts permits you to have ‘Parent accounts’ and sub-accounts. The number of sub-accounts that can be created varies with the different types of list. Some lists do not allow for the creation of a hierarchy, they are always ‘flat’. Figure 2 shows the options to change a list view.
By default, QuickBooks displays any list that can have a hierarchy created, in ‘hierarchical’ view, where the various sub-elements are in-set in the list below each of their superior list elements. Our second step in correcting list corruption is to turn-off the hierarchical view, thus restoring all lists to their ‘flat’ view. Access the list’s menu by clicking the ‘list’ button (i.e., Names, Accounts, Item, etc.) at the bottom of each list; when the menu opens select “Flat View”. Figure 1 indicates which lists need to be set to flat. Note: After you complete the process of resolving list corruption, you can restore the lists to “Hierarchical View” from the list’s menu.
Resort Lists Function
Resorting lists can frequently fix the damage to list tables. A resorted list is a re-indexed list. While there might not be any visible changes to these tables when you examine them in the various centers or lists, the basis by which QuickBooks accesses these tables and their elements changes as a result of the resorting process. After you have successfully resorted your lists, you should always close and reopen your company data file before performing any other tasks.
Note: If you have changed the order of a list, resorting the list will undo your manual order and restore the list to QuickBooks’ default order for the list. As such, you may want to back-up your company data file before resorting your lists.
From the QuickBooks menu bar, select Lists and then select each List one at a time, remember to fully ‘expose’ all lists by selecting the Include Inactive (if available) and to set each list to Flat View (if available) before actually selecting the Resort List option. Remember to always click OK on the message "Are you sure you want to return this list to its original order" before continuing on to the next list from the Lists menu. After you have completed this process for all the lists, Close QuickBooks, and then re-open it.
In part 2 of this Techno Topic we will look at resorting the Master Names lists and the lists contained within QuickBooks 'Centers'. We will also examine specific forms of list damage and possible steps in resolution of such corruption.