QuickBooks Data Corruption
A QuickBooks Company file may not open for a number of reasons. It may have become damaged the last time it was in use, or it may have been damaged due to some form of corruption on your hard drive where the file is stored. Other common factors include problems with reports or transaction templates that were left open within the file the last time it was closed (especially if you have the preference selected to ‘save desktop upon exit’. Other reasons include using the wrong version of QuickBooks, or issues with the location of the file such as access permissions, problems with the file name and file extension, or a conflicting *QBW.tlg file are additional reasons why you might not be able to open the file.
You may experience various error messages including the -6000 series (there are several), or the H### series, C= errors (such as C=343 or C=422, although these are rare), various Unrecoverable Errors (I wrote an article about this last week) and many more.
Preliminary Step: The preliminary step is to always make certain that the problem is really with ‘your Company file’ and not QuickBooks itself. One good way of doing this is to press and hold the Control (Ctrl) key while double clicking the actual QuickBooks application icon (not your QuickBooks file icon). If the program still does not open while holding down the Ctrl key then you have a QuickBooks application issue, and not a ‘file issue’. If QuickBooks does open, then try opening a ‘sample company’ file, and if the sample company opens then chances are the problem is with ‘your own Company file’.
So let’s assume for purposes of this article that you have determined that the problem must be with your Company file. A short time back I also wrote an article about QuickBooks not allowing you to log-in, because the QBW.tlg file or the database server thought that you were logged-in, so I won’t go into those things now, other than as the QBW.tlg file may relate to other problems.
Step 1: The 1st step that I recommend is that you return to the ‘No Company Open’ screen, if you have that sample file open, then select the option to close/log-off from the File Menu.
Step 2: From the ‘No Company Open’ screen, the 2nd step is to select the Utilities sub-menu from the File Menu, if the option to ‘Stop Hosting Multi-user Access’ is available, you want to select it. What we are trying to accomplish here is ‘turn off’ the hosting function either on the computer you are using, or on any other computer on your network that is acting as the ‘host’. So you may need to go through the same steps I outlined a moment ago regarding use of the Ctrl key to open QuickBooks without any Company file being opened, then proceed to shut-down hosting on any/every computer you find it running. (Note: Hosting should NEVER be turned on in more than one computer on your network.)
Step 3: The 3rd step is to use the Windows browse feature to locate the directory (folder) where your Company file is stored. At this point you want to make a Windows ‘copy’ of your CompanyFile.QBW and CompanyFile.QBW.tlg file and safely store them away in a directory called ‘Safety-1’ you create (I almost always suggest on the ‘desktop’.) Now I want you to repeat this process to create another copy in an additional directory called ‘Safety-2’ and copy the two files to that directory as well. You can always ‘delete’ these copies if you don’t need them later (one copy is a true 'safety' copy, and the other will be used for 'testing purposes'.)
Step 4: The 4th step is to attempt to open the file by browsing to it via the ‘No Company Open’ window. Select the button to ‘Open or restore company file’ and select the option to Open a Company file. Browse to the normal location of the Company file and select it; however, before you click Open, we want to take steps to prevent reports and other windows (including transactions) from opening. To do this, hold down the Alternate (Alt) key when you click Open. Be certain to keep the Alt key held down until the file completely opens, or an error message is displayed, regardless of the length of time it takes for QuickBooks to fully load the file. If the file opens then you will want to run the verify utility, chances are you may have a corrupted report or transaction template.
Step 5: So if the file still didn’t open in step 4, then we are going to try to open the copy of the file in the ‘Safety-2’ directory you created under step 3 above, and we are going to use the steps outlined in step 4. Of course this time you will browse to the location of the file in ‘Safety-2’ and NOT the normal file location. Don’t forget to use the Alt key when attempting this step. If the file opens, then chances are you have either a problem with the file location or Windows permissions for the normal location of the file. If the file still doesn’t open, then we have some more steps to try.
Step 6: You will want to open the Safety-2 directory, and then ‘right click’ on the CompanyFile.QBW.tlg file, now select the option to ‘delete’ that file. We want to delete the transaction log (tlg) file so that the CompanyFile.QBW fle has no associated tlg file. Once you have deleted the *.tlg file, proceed with attempting to open the file again, using the steps outlined in step 5 above. If the file opens, then we know that the problem stems from either the *.tlg file having the file ‘locked’, or a corrupted or mismatched *.tlg file. In this case you can probable return to your original location, delete the *.tlg file from that directory, and then open your normal QBW file. (Note: In such case, I would 'safely move' the 'Safety 1 directory' to a convenient 'archive' location so that you still have the copy of the QBW.tlg file available should you really have data damage within your file. Data services can sometimes use the QBW.tlg file to playback transaction history to correct some data errors.)
Step 7: If you still were not able to open the file in step 6, then we are going to open the Safety-2 directory, and then ‘right click’ on the CompanyFile.QBW file; now select the option to ‘rename’ the file. We want to name this file something very simple so perhaps just call it Company.QBW for purposes of this test. Once you have deleted the tlg file, proceed with attempting to open the file again, using the steps outlined in step 5 above. If the file opens, then we know that the problem stems from an irregularity in the file name, Windows recognition of the file name, QuickBooks recognition of the file name, or Sybase protocols. (While Intuit will not tell you this unless you experience certain types of file problems, Sybase recommends that a database using their database server never have any non-alphanumeric characters of any type including spaces in the file name. Because QuickBooks automatically creates the ‘file name’ from the Company Name entered during set-up, it isn’t uncommon to find non-alphanumeric characters in QuickBooks Company file names.)
If these seven steps haven’t resolved your problem, then chances are you have some serious corruption associated with the Company file itself. In some cases, although very rare in my experience, the QuickBooks File Doctor might be able to resolve your problem. While I have written some not so glorious reviews of the QBFD in this publication, I haven’t given you a step by step because those instructions are downloaded with the tool. Who knows, in your specific case you might just get ‘the Doctor’ to solve the riddle of your ‘file that won’t open’.
Intuit offers their Data Services support as an escalated form of technical support, there are also a few very good independent file services that can help you with many such problems, and I am always happy to give you recommendations if you contact me directly. Best of luck!