I have three computers: The first is the company file server which has the Quick Books company file, is always on, and lives in the closet. The other two are Quick Books Clients. All are XP Pro.

I need a way to automatically backup the QB data file, without any user intervention.

Quick Books has a built in scheduled backup utility, but from what I've read, it only works when the software is running in single user mode. (and obviously putting the server into single user mode defeats the concept of having a server). Also, I'm not actually running QB itself on the server, just the "QB Database Server" process that sits in the system tray.

Surely there must be a way to automate this? I'm open to any ideas/suggestions.


  • What version of Quickbooks are you running?
    – Knox
    Nov 1, 2009 at 22:11

5 Answers 5


I believe if there are no clients accessing any of the company files, then you're good to go. You can just copy the quickbooks data files out of the directory, without the accompanying .nd lock files and they should be clean.

The Quickbooks "server" is nothing more than a glorified lock manager. It's basically just the locking code from the multi-user part of the client that runs on a dedicated machine and ensures the files are always open in multi-user mode. As far as I can glean, Quickbooks just determines this by checking for the presence of the '.nd' files.

Basically we just pick some times where we are reasonably sure nobody will be accessing the .QBW files and make copies of them to a backup location. We actually do this once an hour, and so far we've had no problems with recovering files when the users screw them up.

  • How many rotating copies do you keep?
    – Nick
    Nov 2, 2009 at 3:32
  • One copy every 4 hours, retained for a day, another copy every night retained for a week, and a copy every week retained for 4 weeks. Nov 2, 2009 at 22:03

Why isn't the automatic backup feature (creation of qbb files) that's already in QuickBooks suitable enough for your purposes? You can set it to backup every time the program is closed. In QB 2009, the ability to create a backup in multi-user mode was added, and also the ability to send messages through chat to other logged in users, or to kick them out of QuickBooks. :-) Might be worth the upgrade.

Newer versions (7 and up) of QuickBooks Enterprise can run on Linux. Or see Intuit's note on running QB 2007 on a Linux server at enterprisesuite.intuit.com (click on the "technical" tab in the middle of the page under the video)

There is also now a SaaS add-on called SmartVault - one of their features is an automatic backup of the QuickBooks file to their online storage every time someone exits QuickBooks. It works with QB 2007. see smartvault.com/backup/index

Also, copying the QBW file will not give you a full copy of everything that is used in QuickBooks. Best example is if they have imported a logo to be used on invoices or other forms, it will not be grabbed with the QBW file. See http://support.quickbooks.intuit.com/support/pages/knowledgebasearticle/1008679

  • 1
    Hi Mary, The problem comes from the need to make sure that backups run, without any assistance on the part of the user, or the users computer. If the user shut-down their computer, for example, the backups would not run. Backup needs to be a service that operates out of the reach of users, and runs consistently regardless of anything they do, or don't do. It's good to know that the QBW file doesn't hold everything... but in the event of a problem having a backup of your financial data is paramount- and fixing the layout on your invoice becomes trivial in comparison.
    – Nick
    Nov 6, 2009 at 5:26

Maybe I have a better solution for making the backups automatically on a multi-user installation. Since the version 10 the schedule backups features works in the background, so theres no need of switching to single user or wait for the application to close.

What I did was the following:

  1. Create a share folder on the server which everyone has permission to write.
  2. Create a schedule backup rule on the client application of the user and point it to the share folder. The time of the backup is one hour before the company close.
  3. Create the same backup rule on every client (exact dates, time and path), so it doesn't depends on a specific machine to be on.

I had to do this per client and company.

The only inconvenience that I found whit this solutions is that QB does not handle well the amount of copies to be store. It create new file every time and no remove the olds. This is what I'm trying to handle because we are going to install and online backup service.


The easiest solution is to write a batch file on one of the clients which copies the QuickBooks files from the server to a folder on the client and run it automatically using XP scheduled tasks at some time when neither client is using QuickBooks. This is not a great solution, but it will satisfy the basic requirement. For some additional protection, you could use Jungle Disk Workgroup Edition and copy the files to the Amazon cloud.

For info to get to a better solution, look for "windows backup". See my answer to a question about backup here and the many permutations and options.

Finally .. I suggest that you bite the bullet and get a server for this (clearly critical) data. By server I mean server hardware and Windows Server. You might consider Windows Small Business Server as it can solve a lot of other problems.

  • We actually have several servers, but unfortunately Quick Books doesn't run on Linux :) I think the real issue is how do you get a clean copy of the company file while the program is open? Running a cron would be great if the program were shutdown, and the file unlocked. I'm thinking the best way might be to (automatically?) put Quick Books into single-user mode, tell it to run it's built-in backup utility, and then put it back into multi-user mode. But how? Or alternatively, is there a way to shut-down a program/process cleanly without just killing it?
    – Nick
    Nov 1, 2009 at 23:44

I have written a little batch file that stops the server service on the server machine (obviously this only works in a 9-5 office) at 02:00, drops the company files into a RAR file, restarts the server service and then FTPs it off to a remote server, works great, took a few mins and I hold 10 copies on the remote server by renaming sequentially on upload..

  • It doesn't bother anyone their financial data is being streamed across the Internet via FTP unencrypted? Oct 16, 2014 at 16:36

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