Company File Maintenance Best Practices
Your Company File
All of your transactions, and customer, vendor and employee records, are stored and maintained in your company file. The company file contains all of your accounting data. Therefore, it's important to maintain your company file's integrity. As part of regular company file maintenance, we recommend you perform the following tasks: Verify, Optimize and Backup the company file, on a regular basis. Additionally, if the company file is getting too large, you can Purge data.
Verify the company file (File > Verify Company File)
Many of the records you see in your company file, are created by referencing several other records in the file. The AccountEdge Verify utility checks these references to verify the references are valid. Any inconsistencies will be reported to you. When the Verify utility indicates there are no errors, all references to all records are valid. The verification process is usually done as a prerequisite to creating a backup of your company file, since a backup of a file that may have a corruption, is useless. The Verify before Backup behavior is optional. You select to verify before creating a backup by indicating Check Company File for errors just before creating the backup, or in the Preferences (Setup > Preferences > Security) window. We suggest you Verify as part of your Backup procedure. If you are working in a network environment, we recommend you Verify the company file on a local machine (e.g., the host or server), not over the network. Regardless of your backup schedule, we recommend you Verify once a day, and no later than once a week, depending on use.
Optimize your company file (File > Optimize Company File).
The Optimizer performs several functions. First, it will reindex the company file. This means all record pointers will be re-created. Additionally, the space for any disused records will be purged. This may make the file a bit smaller. Although the Optimization Assistant is designed to make your company file more efficient, it is also capable of fixing certain types of company file corruption. We recommend that you use the Optimization Assistant on a regular basis to keep your company file operating at its peak. You can use the Optimization Assistant as frequently as required. For example, you can use it after you have completed end-of-month reports or at the end of each working day. We recommend optimizing no less than once per month, but more frequently—towards once per week—is healthy for your file.
An interruption to your computer's power supply while you are working on your file, can result in company file inconsistencies. If you are accessing your company file through your LAN, network connection interruptions can cause company file inconsistencies. If you experience an interruption, we recommend that you run the Optimization Assistant.
Backup your company file (File > Backup).
We recommend you create a backup of your company file on a daily basis. This frequency can be adjusted based on your usage. The general rule of thumb should be: if you have to re-enter data, how far back could you go and easily recreate the data? If re-entering a week's worth of data would be acceptable, then make the schedule weekly. If one day is too much data to re-enter, then backup on a daily basis, and include daily verification and optimization. The answer to the question, "how much data to reenter is too much," is an indication of your backup schedule. Verify the company file as part of the backup procedure as indicated above.
Purge the company file (File > Purge).
In your company file, you can purge data that is older than a specified period. Purging data will remove it from the company file. After purging, the data will no longer be available. We recommend you create a backup of your file before purging data. To Purge, identify a period, and use that same period when purging in the different areas of your company file. Look at the Command Center, and work from right to left. First, select the Card File, and Purge (File > Purge). Then select Inventory and Purge; then Payroll, etc. The last purge will be the purging of Journal Entries in Accounts. After purging, you should Optimize your company file. The result will be a smaller, more efficient company file.
If you want to keep a copy of the original file for reference, you can mark the copy Read-Only (Setup > Preferences > Security > Mark this company file as Read-only), which will prohibit the entry of data.
Causes of Company File Corruption
Corruption can occur for different reasons. A file corruption can be the result of a system crash, power loss, or an interruption of data communication between machines in a networked (LAN) environment. Power Save options that allow a machine to sleep while the company file is open can cause loss of data communication to and from the company file. Generally speaking however, the causes of file corruption typically break down into six categories:
- physical problems with the storage media
- hardware (including network) malfunctions
- natural disasters
- software errors
- human errors
The first three sources of corruption relate to the storage media, while the latter three relate to the files themselves.
Data loss caused by storage has two broad causes: hardware and software. There are two types of data loss:
Undetected — also known as "silent corruption." These problems have been attributed to errors during the write process to disk. These are the more dangerous errors as there is no indication that the data are incorrect. Hard disk errors on your computer could cause problems when backing up or attempting to save the file, particularly in the case of excessively large files.
Detected — these errors are most often caused by disk drive problems. Errors may either be permanent or temporary. Substandard, obsolete or poorly configured routers can impact both performance in a multi-user environment and increase the risk of file corruption.
Computer viruses, as you would think, can contribute to file corruption.
Natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, etc., that cause extended power loss usually lead to file corruptions. Interruptions to your computer like a power failure, the corresponding power surge, or a user mistakenly turning off the power while the file is open can contribute to a corruption. Additionally, machines that are submerged in water as a result of flooding may have irreversible disk and other hardware problems.
Your best protection against company file corruption is to regularly Verify, Optimize and Backup your company file.