Fixing QuickBooks Problems: Free Tools You Can Use

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Any time that you are working with a program that runs on Microsoft Windows you have to be ready to fix odd problems that can crop up. QuickBooks is no exception – it relies on many different components and settings in Windows to work properly, and if something isn’t right then QuickBooks just won’t run or install. Let’s talk about some FREE tools that are available to you if you can’t get QuickBooks to install, run or open a company file on your Windows computer.

Fixing these problems can be VERY frustrating because there are an uncountable number of variations in how a Windows computer can be configured. Even if you are successful in getting things running today, the next time you get a Windows Update or install some other program, your QuickBooks installation may fail. Fortunately, Intuit provides us with several tools that can help with many of the problems that you may run into.

Note that these all refer to the Windows Desktop version of QuickBooks, and many of these tools are only available for the US version.

Reboot.bat

This has been around for a long time, but I’m surprised how many advisors don’t know about it. This is a simple “batch” file that QuickBooks will install on your computer. This “re-registers” the various QuickBooks related components with Microsoft Windows.

Without going into a lot of technical detail, just about any program (except small utilities) will most likely be split up into separate “components” that are stored in your system. When you install the program the first time, the installation process “registers” these components with Microsoft Windows so that it knows where they are and that they are executable pieces of the program. This stores information in the “Registry”. Sometimes your “Registry” can be corrupted or altered by some other program, and that may cause a QuickBooks component to be forgotten. The result would be that QuickBooks can’t run properly. The components aren’t deleted or damaged, Windows just doesn’t recognize or find them.

Reboot.bat is a series of commands that will re-register all of the necessary program components with Microsoft Windows. This is a simple, harmless fix that you can try if you can’t get QuickBooks to run.

You’ll find the file in the same folder where your QuickBooks file was installed. Right click on the QuickBooks program icon on your desktop and select Properties, and then click Open File Location (or Find Target in Windows XP). Locate the reboot.bat file and double click it to start it running. Just sit back and let it run, which shouldn’t take long. Then you need to reboot your computer.

See Intuit KB article HOW12420 for details.

QuickBooks Install Diagnostic Tool

Sometimes you just can’t get QuickBooks to install. One of the possible solutions is to run the QuickBooks Install Diagnostic Tool (available at Intuit KB article HOW12407). This will diagnose and repair a number of problems, with the main focus being on the Microsoft .NET Framework (usually error messages 1603, 1904, 1935 and 1722).

This tool is updated often, so if you want to work with it you should always download the latest version. Unfortunately I don’t see where they list the current version number (or release date) in the KB article, but the tool is small and is simple to download.

QuickBooks Component Repair Tool

I didn’t know about this one until my friend Alex at Intuit pointed it out to me. It can be very handy for certain kinds of problems that will prevent QuickBooks from running.

Any time you write a program that runs on Microsoft Windows you are usually relying on a number of “components” that are provided from other sources, including Microsoft themselves. QuickBooks is very typical, and it relies on quite a few different Microsoft components. Unfortunately, there are often many different versions of these components in use by different programs that you install on your computer, so sometimes installing one program may alter the components needed by another program. This SHOULDN’T happen, but it does. Diagnosing and repairing these kinds of problems can be fairly tricky.

The QuickBooks Component Repair Tool (available at Intuit KB article HOW13974) can be used to automatically diagnose and fix issues with several Microsoft components:

  • Microsoft .NET Framework
  • Microsoft MSXML
  • Microsoft Visual C++

QuickBooks File Doctor

The QuickBooks File Doctor (available at Intuit KB article HOW17836) is a tool that you can use to fix certain kinds of file and data corruption, Windows setup problems, and network setup problems. It is not entirely clear to me at this time exactly what problems it will resolve, as the Intuit KB article doesn’t list the issues.

Bill Murphy wrote a two part review of the QuickBooks File Doctor last year, and he was disappointed that it didn’t fix a number of problems in his test file. However, those errors were things like “list corruption” or other database table errors. My understanding at this time is that the File Doctor is aimed primarily at problems that prevent you from opening your QuickBooks file, which usually fall into a different category (and which can be very vexing), as well as networking errors.

There isn’t a comprehensive list of what this tool does. It will address many of the 6000-series errors on file opening, and networking errors like H202 (probably the main one), h303 and H505.

Intuit updates this tool often, possibly as often as once a month, so if you have a situation where you want to try the tool you should always download the latest version. Unfortunately, Intuit doesn’t list the “version” of the tool on their KB article.

This product won’t work with a file larger than 2GB, and the network diagnostic/repair feature might not work properly if you have multiple versions of QuickBooks installed.

Note that this product only works with the US versions of QuickBooks. If you are using the Canadian version of QuickBooks you can use the QuickBooks Canadian Company File Diagnostic Tool. If you are using the UK version of QuickBooks you can use the QuickBooks UK Company File Diagnostic Tool. I suspect that their might be just one tool that works with all three national versions, but I have not tested that in detail.

QuickBooks PDF Repair Tool

I’ve written MANY articles (perhaps too many?) on problems with QuickBooks and the PDF drivers they use. These kinds of problems will prevent you from creating PDF copies of order forms and reports, emailing attached invoices, and reconciling bank accounts. Many of the problems that you could run into can be resolved by using the QuickBooks PDF Repair Tool (available at Intuit KB article SLN40733). Odds are you won’t see that many updates to this tool as time goes on, as a lot of the problems have been fixed starting with QuickBooks 2013 R6.

For an overview of the problems that this tool will fix, look at my article on Digging Into QuickBooks PDF Issues. This tool combines a long list of fixes that people have talked about over the years, including dealing with printer ports, print spoolers, MSXML problems, QBPrint file problems and more.

These Won’t Solve All Problems

This collection of tools won’t cover EVERY problem that you can run into, but they are important tools to have in your toolkit when you are trying to repair a problem installation. They are all free, and very simple to run.

This post was written by Charlie Russell.