If you are seeing slowness when using QuickBooks, there can be a variety of causes and solutions. Evaluating performance issues and what to do about them involves determining your best balance point between following one or more possible paths:
- Upgrade or repair your computers and network.
- Create a smaller QuickBooks file and keep your existing file as an archive.
- Add an application to improve productivity in one or more areas.
- Pay for the extra time it is taking your users to do their tasks using your existing systems and file until your needs change or you can prepare for implementing a different solution.
Which path gives you more value for the money and meets your needs overall is a complicated question which requires evaluating your company file, computers, network, workflow, and productivity needs.
The First Question: What is Slow in QuickBooks?
The starting point for addressing performance issues is determining which areas of QuickBooks are slow, and if it affects only certain users or everyone. It makes a difference in narrowing down what to look at when we know the slowness is only a concern with large reports or certain tasks such as payroll, rather than all transaction or activities are slow. Does it only happen on certain computers? If you use multiple QuickBooks company files, does it only happen with only one file? Is it slower during part of the day and fine otherwise?
The more detailed a picture you can put together of the symptoms to define the overall issue, the easier it is to identify possible root causes and explore options for improving the situation.
In a post of this size it is not possible to put in a complete troubleshooting map, so let’s take a high-level look at some of the areas that might be involved. Our technical experts are experienced in helping to narrow down likely causes of issues and can discuss options for addressing them.
It is also important to understand that we are QuickBooks experts; there are areas of system and network setup and configuration which are better addressed by IT experts. For those types of issues, we can help explain what they need to look at and how QuickBooks functions behind the scenes, as well as giving them reference information about which aspects of systems are commonly involved.
Let’s Start at the Foundation
If we think of QuickBooks and what is required to run it as a house, the computer that is used to run the software is the foundation. The minimum system requirements are just that, minimums. If your systems do not even meet the minimums, then they do not have the computing power for QuickBooks to perform and operate as expected for any file. Older and cheaper computers may or may not work slower; they may or may not work at all. Trying to balance a house on a cracked and unevenly worn foundation that should be replaced really does not work well.
As your file size and number of users grows, it becomes necessary to exceed the minimums to maintain performance, particularly on the server used to host multi-user access to the file. This is also the computer which holds the temporary files used to generate reports, so if you run a lot of large reports, it will increase the load this computer needs to handle. To come back to our analogy, the bigger a house we build, the stronger the foundation needs to be to support the structure.
How’s the Plumbing?
In our house analogy, the network connecting the computers is like the plumbing under the main house living space. It is easy for IT experts to plan out the network to have the correct pipe sizes for good data flow, such as utilizing gigabit network equipment.
With performance issues, it may also be necessary to find blocks in the flow, because for QuickBooks functionality it is the data flow that matters for keeping everything coordinated between multiple users in a file at the same time. Just like plumbing issues, sometimes the source of a blockage is easy to find, and sometimes it is in a tricky spot that is unexpected.
How is the House Plan?
When building a house, it is necessary to keep in mind how many rooms of each type are needed, and how they will likely be used. Having to wander through several unused bedrooms to get to the pantry which is at the opposite end of the house from the kitchen makes a common journey that much more time consuming.
In QuickBooks, planning out data needs for reports and the workflows for common tasks for your business is essential. It may also be necessary to review how much data is in your file. It may be that your business is doing enough volume that your file simply grows quickly.
A common cause of slowness can be having many years of data in a company file when you rarely look at anything older than your last fiscal year. All that extra data is useful for the rare times you need to look that far back, but QuickBooks has to wade through it for every report you’re running, even if it is just for this week.
Are you entering custom fields on every transaction because the users were not told that you haven’t needed that report for years? In either situation, it might be time to do a house cleaning and move some of your collected data to a storage locker where you can view it if you need to, and it is no longer in the way of your day to day activity. Making a new file for ongoing activity and keeping the previous data in an archive file can get this done.
Maybe We Need a New Room or Better Appliances?
Perhaps the current rooms and appliances are usable, but we could really use a better way to do things. If you track a lot of inventory, and orders have many parts on them, then perhaps having to hand select every item from the drop down is slowing down your work. It might be helpful to add barcode functionality so a scanner can help with data entry accuracy and speed.
Are There Existing Issues?
Are you avoiding using the front door because the porch has that noisy board and the side door by the garage is more convenient anyway? Do you know about incorrect entries that you never seem to have the time to fix? If you have a bunch of old sales orders that you know are already done and just need to be closed, doing the cleanup would make the sales order reports much more useful and quicker to go through, and we can advise on the most efficient methods to do the cleanup, or even assist with it.
Sometimes It is More Complicated
Just like what looks like a problem with low water pressure to a sink can turn out to be a water leak that is washing out part of the foundation, at times performance issues are simply symptoms of underlying data issues, and problems in a data file may have other aspects besides just causing slowness. If there are errors regularly when you verify the data, it may indicate an underlying issue that should be looked at before it gets worse.
Regular Maintenance and Inspections
Before we get too much into the doom and gloom, there are ways to minimize the likelihood of such situations. Just like regular maintenance and inspections, regularly making verified backups of your file helps to catch issues before they become major and provides recovery points if they become necessary. It can also help with minimizing general performance issues that can happen when the transaction log file gets too large. We can help set up such routines and help look at any issues that are found.
Periodically reviewing your file for how you are using it and what you still need is just as important as inspecting and cleaning the gutters every year.
Our technical and accounting experts are very experienced with QuickBooks, how it works, and helping to narrow down and locate the root causes of issues. We can help figure out if you need to improve your computing infrastructure, work out the kinks in your workflows, make a smaller file that is more usable, or fix data errors.
Looking for more QuickBooks guidance? We're hosting a Two-Day Seminar/Webinar on QuickBooks Desktop - on the 3rd and 4th of October 2019. It will take place at our Learning Center, and online! Space IS Limited; get your spot while spots remain.