Managing Quicken Files
- Creating data files vs. accounts
Your Quicken data file holds all your account information, just as a file folder holds your paper banking or brokerage statements. During setup, Quicken creates this data file for you and names it QDATA by default. In most cases, QDATA is the only Quicken data file you'll need. When you enter information for all your accounts in this one file, the accounts can share the same categories, classes, and memorized payees. When you create a report, you can choose to show data from a single account or from all accounts in the file. You can also transfer amounts between accounts in the same file.
Create additional data files only when the data needs to be separated. For example, if you keep your home finances separate from your business finances for tax reasons, or if you maintain the books for a volunteer organization, or for a friend or relative.
- Keeping accounts separated
There are two ways to separate your accounts: You can create several accounts in a single data file and customize Quicken to show you just the accounts you want to see at any one time, or you can create separate data files. Unless you have a good reason to create separate data files (for example, you track a business and you want to keep personal and business data completely separate), creating several accounts in a single data file is the best option.
With a single data file, you can see the relationships between accounts, such as transfers and deposits, and you can see an overview of your finances in one place. If there is any chance that you will ever want to track accounts together, you should create them in a single data file because it is not possible to merge data files at a later date.
And with a single data file, it is still possible to create reports or view net worth measures that exclude the accounts of a spouse, other family member, and so on. To exclude accounts and their transactions from the Account Bar, reports, and the Financial Overview Center, simply customize Quicken to hide the accounts you don't want included at any one time. The accounts will stay hidden until you reopen the Account List and unhide them.
- Opening and finding files
When you start Quicken, it opens the last data file you used. You can work with only one data file at a time. To work with a different data file during a single Quicken session, just open it. Quicken closes all the open Quicken dialogs associated with the current data file for you.
If you want to open a file and you're not sure where it is on your computer, or if you want to open all your Quicken data files so you can select the one you want, Quicken helps you find the data file you need. You can also open any of the last four Quicken data files you've used by choosing the name of the data file you want from the File menu.
- Working with Quicken data files
You can do everything with Quicken files you might expect: copy files, rename files, create new files, and delete files. Quicken automatically saves your data for you so you don't need to save it explicitly to keep from losing data. However, as with all important data, it's a good idea to back up your data frequently.
Copying a file takes all or part of your current file and creates a new file with a different name. Quicken doesn't change the original file in any way; the copy contains all the accounts in the original file. You might copy part of a file if you want to copy transactions within a certain date range to start a new file for a new fiscal year, or if you want to copy your scheduled transactions, memorized payees, transaction groups, and categories to a new file without copying any transactions.
Deleting a Quicken file permanently removes all the records in that data file from your hard disk. After you've deleted records, you can recover your account data only by restoring the data from an external backup source or an automatic backup, which Quicken makes every seven days and places in the Quicken BACKUP folder.
- Backing up and restoring Quicken data files
You can back up your Quicken data to USB drives, CDs, DVDs, and so on.
Another way to safeguard your valuable Quicken data is to back it up every day to a remote location. That's akin to storing important family documents such as wills or deeds in a safety deposit box in a bank. Quicken, in partnership with SwapDrive, offers Quicken Online Backup.
Quicken includes several backup options that you can change to meet your needs. Unless you specify otherwise, Quicken:
- Reminds you to back up your Quicken data every third time you exit Quicken.
- Makes a historical copy of your data every seven days and stores five of these copies in the Quicken/BACKUP folder.
- Warns you it is about to replace your existing data file with the data file you are restoring from a backup.
- Moving data
If you need to move a Quicken data file from one computer to another (for example, from your home computer to your business computer), you can use the Quicken Restore function to restore backed-up files to a different computer.
- Importing or exporting data
Quicken allows you to import data from other programs for use in Quicken, such as TurboTax data and data from financial institution Web sites.
You can also export data from Quicken to PDFs or for use in other programs. For example, you can export Quicken report data to Excel, copy Quicken report data to other spreadsheet or word processing programs, and transfer tax schedule report data to a tax program.
- QIF files
When converting from Quicken for Macintosh, you'll use Quicken Interchange Format (QIF) files.
QIF files are specially formatted text files that are made up of lists of QIF items that describe accounts, transactions within those accounts, lists that you want to export, and options that you can include.
Note that QIF import is not available to import transactions. See the improved download solution replacing QIF.
- Converting data from earlier versions of Quicken
You can convert data from earlier versions of Quicken for use with your current version. This includes old versions of Quicken for Windows and several different versions of Quicken for Macintosh. You can also convert Quicken for Windows data for use in Quicken for Macintosh.
- Converting data from Microsoft Money
You can convert data from Microsoft Money 2003 or later for use with Quicken for Windows 2008 (though these versions are not supported). Current versions of Quicken have built directly into the program the ability to convert a Microsoft Money 2007 or later data file. More information.
- Protecting data with passwords
To protect transactions in a Quicken data file from unauthorized changes, you can set up two kinds of passwords in Quicken:
- File passwords discourage unauthorized access to your entire Quicken data file. After you set up a file password, you can't open the file to access any of the accounts within it unless you enter the password correctly. A file password doesn't protect a file from being deleted, copied, or renamed; however, the file password remains in effect for files that are copied or renamed.
- Transaction passwords protect all transactions before a certain date. After you set up a transaction password, Quicken will prompt you for the password before you can record changes to any of the transactions dated on or before the date you specified. (You might use a transaction password when you close an accounting period so that no one accidentally changes transactions within that period.)
- Archiving your Quicken data files
In addition to making regular backups, many people are accustomed to organizing and storing their data files at the end of the year for safekeeping. With the Year-End Copy command, you can archive your Quicken data in one of two ways:
- Archiving copies all your transactions that are dated earlier than this year and places them in a separate data file. Your current file is untouched, and you can continue to use it. The advantage of this method is that you can create reports and graphs that include several years' worth of information.
- Creating a new year file saves a copy of your current data file and then removes transactions that are dated earlier than this year. The transactions in your current data file then go back to no earlier than January 1 of this year (except for uncleared transactions and all investment transactions, which remain in your current data file). If you are archiving an invoice/receivables account, Quicken retains all transactions that have not been completely paid off (such as unpaid invoices as well as invoices that were created prior to the date you specified but are linked to payments that fall within the new date range). We recommend this method only if your data files have become so large that making regular backups is inconvenient, or Quicken takes too long to load your data file because of the following disadvantages with this method:
- You won't be able to use last year's transactions in reports and graphs.
- If you don't reconcile your accounts regularly, creating a new year file won't work well because your old transactions won't be cleared.
- If you use online banking to update your credit accounts, creating a new year file removes all the transactions for previous years (including payee information). When payee information is absent, online banking may not be able to match payees and categories correctly the next time you update your register.
To start using this method during midyear (if, for example, your fiscal year does not go from January through December), archive your data file first. Then create a new year file, using your current data file in both instances.