One of the features and ‘sales points’ of QuickBooks Online is that you never have to worry about backing-up your data. Intuit is continually backing-up QBO data within their overall multi-server environment. Safety copies of the data exist so that if one server goes down, a copy of the data is resident on another server.
Unfortunately, despite these safeguards and redundancies, users essentially have 'no control' over the use of those back-ups. There is no way we, as users, can simply decide to ‘restore our data’ from some past point-certain and start moving forward again. In other words, the QuickBooks Online Backup functionality Intuit provides is aimed at ‘restoration’ of a file at the point it becomes no longer available. It really is about ‘disaster recovery’, not selective restoration.
Another option Intuit provides is the ability to ‘download’ a copy of your QBO Data, in two different formats. One is a simple download. You have a copy of the data just as it exists in the QuickBooks Online environment. But what good is it? There really is nothing you can do with that copy; no platform exists whereby you can either access that data, or even send-it back to Intuit as a restore point. You can also download a copy of your data in QuickBooks Desktop format, but there are problems with that. First, it takes a lot of work to deal with the differences in format; and even Intuit Data Services can not always provide you with a copy that is identical in desktop format to your on-line data.
Second, if we just look at the issue of Inventory valuation, your QBO inventory data was ‘valued’ at FIFO, but desktop uses ‘Average Cost’. How could the values ever truly be in balanced? Not to mention the fact that you must file with the IRS and request permission to change inventory valuation methods (once again, assuming you went from desktop 'average' to online 'FIFO' initially.)
But none of these issues and options come close to dealing with what I will term a 'worst case scenario.' Now I tend to think that I know a lot about worst case scenarios; after all, I live in Moore, Oklahoma, perhaps the tornado capital of the world with a history of 3 major tornadoes in the last 15 (or so) years, one of which had the 'fastest wind speeds ever recorded on the face of our planet.' Obviously an F5 tornado can render even the most 'disaster resistant' data center a mess. That is why major data centers like those used by Intuit to support QuickBooks Online have a redundancy factor that includes at least one 'secondary' location where the data is continually archived in case the primary data center is 'blown away.'
As bad as a major tornado, fire, flood, almost any such situation that might impact your QuickBooks Online service via the primary Intuit Data Center, I am confident that the redundancy factor would kick-in and you would still have access to to your QBO data. Even if you had a 'local disaster' like any of those I have mentioned here, you could get to your QBO data as soon as you had access to the internet from anywhere you were at, or could get to. So neither of these, either 'data center disaster' or 'local disaster' are what I am talking about.
What I am talking about when it comes to a 'worst case scenario' is the 'intentional destruction of your QuickBooks Online data'. Here is an example of how such a thing might happen.
A trusted, long-term employee, let's call her 'Betty Bookkeeper', has been growing more and more disgruntled over the last few weeks. You really can't figure out what is going on with her, so you simply ignore the situation assuming things will improve with a little time. You count on Betty for everything, and trust her implicitly. She keeps your checkbook, issues all the invoices to your customers, makes your bank deposits, pays your vendors and other operating expenses. She even works with the payroll provider to insure your employees are paid on time. You hardly know what you would do without 'Betty.'
One Monday morning you arrive at your office to find a note from Betty. When you read it, you are shocked. The note pretty well tells you that 'you are the slime of the earth' and that she 'hopes that your business falls totally apart.' You can hardly believe your eyes. You attempt to call her on her company cell phone only to find that it is ringing in the drawer of her desk. You try her home phone and it has been disconnected. Nobody has seen here since the end of work last Friday.
Suddenly the thought crosses your mind that she might have emptied your bank account so you log-in to QuickBooks Online to check. Tut there is a big problem. The bank balance can't be right. It's way too high. So you call the bank and find out that you actually do have an amount of money in the bank closely akin to what you think it should be, but why does QBO show it is off as much as it is?
As you begin looking at other aspects of QBO you notice that your outstanding invoices are way too low. You are absolutely certain you should be owed a great deal more money from your current customers. In fact, QBO doesn't even list invoices from just 4 days ago that you still have copies of on your desk.
After a couple of hours of reviewing your QBO data you realize that Betty must have spent the entire day last Friday randomly deleting transactions, erroneously editing other transaction and also adding a ridiculous number of fictitious transactions to your QBO data. Now you don't have a clue how you can possibly get your 'books' right.
Besides calling the Police Department to file charges, how would you resolve this situation, and more importantly, the problem of your QBO data? Can you realistically expect some restoration of your data QBO to a date certain?
Well, in so many cases, as with our ‘worst case scenario’ your best friend in the QBO environment is an App called ‘SafetyNet’ (by our friends at Jobber).
SafetyNet is the only backup utility for QuickBooks Online that YOU control.
With SafetyNet, no matter what Intuit is doing in the way of a back-up, you control your own history of back-up data of your QBO file, and you control the restoration of your QBO data from the your backed-up history listing.
SafetyNet by Jobber
SafetyNet figure 1
When, and if, it become necessary to restore a ‘SafetyNet’ backup to your active QBO subscription, you have a complete history of back-up sets you have created. You can choose from the most recent, using their Quickload function, or the very first back-up you ever performed of your QBO data. (For example, you might start a new QBO file, then mess it up; you could easily go back to square one if you backed up to SafetyNet as soon you as set it up QBO initially.)
SafetyNet - figure 2
When you initiate a restore, regardless of the specific version of data you choose, the program will first delete any new records created since the back-up you have selected to restore, and it will then restore any missing records, or edit transactions that have been since altered. Thanks to SafetyNet, our worst case scenario was resolved simply by restoring the SafetyNet backup made the day before 'Betty the Bookkeeper' became 'Betty the Beast'.
As much as it seems so, I don’t want you to think that SafetyNet is a panacea, because, unfortunately, it isn’t a ‘full (complete and total) backup’ of your QuickBooks Online data. Due to limitations in the QuickBooks Online API, Intuit hasn’t currently made all of the objects within a QBO file accessible. Transactions like Deposits, Sales tax and a few others (like recurring transactions) just simply can’t (at present) be included in SafetyNet backups, nor in restores from SafetyNet. Some other QBO related data objects like your settings and attachments aren't included in SafetyNet backups either
There can also be some errors during a restore, but with the highly informative error log that SafetyNet provides, you can quickly identify those errors, along with missing or conflicting data, and resolve those transactions manually.
SafetyNet - figure 3
Even with the API limitations, and possibility of restore errors, SafetyNet is still 'a way better user controlled back-up' of your QuickBooks Online data, than no ‘self-controlled’ back-up at all.
If you would like to see how SafetyNet resolved a simulation of this exact 'worst case scenario' in an actual demonstration, plan on attending my QuickBooks Online Troubleshooting class at one of the upcoming Woodard Master Climber Boot Camps. See the website for more information.
A word about Liz - I am writing her column this week because Liz, who regularly writes this QBO Monday Minute feature, is off due to a family emergency. Please keep her and her family in your thoughts and prayers.