How to Condense Your QuickBooks 2013 Data File
The QuickBooks 2013 Condense command creates a permanent copy, called an archival copy, of the QuickBooks data file. An archival copy of the company file amounts to a snapshot of the company file as it exists at a particular point in time.
If somebody later has a question — perhaps your accountant, or a federal or state auditor — you can use the archival copy of the data file to show what the company file looked like at a particular point in time.
After you understand what archiving is all about, it’s quite straightforward. To condense the QuickBooks company file, follow these steps:
Choose the File→Utilities→Condense Data command.
QuickBooks displays the first Condense Data dialog box, as shown in the illustration below.
Select the Transactions Before a Specific Date radio button.
This option tells QuickBooks that you want to do two things: create an archival copy of the QuickBooks data file, and skinny down the size of the working company file so that it isn’t so big. QuickBooks reduces the size of the working version of the company data file by removing old, closed transactions if you choose in Step 3 to remove transactions.
Specify the Remove Transactions Before date.
To specify the date before which closed transactions should be removed, enter the date into the date box provided. If you want to condense the file by removing transactions on or before December 31, 2010, for example, enter 1/1/2011 into the date box.
Note, however, that you don’t need to feel compulsive about removing a bunch of closed transactions. You remove closed transactions only if your QuickBooks company file is getting too big. You can easily work with a QuickBooks company file that is 25MB, 50MB, or even 100MB (megabytes).
Click Next when you finish specifying which transactions QuickBooks should remove. QuickBooks displays the second Condense Data dialog box, as shown in the following illustration.
Specify how inventory transactions should be condensed.
If your QuickBooks file includes inventory transactions, QuickBooks recommends that you remove old inventory transactions. When QuickBooks displays the second Condense Data dialog box, you can tell QuickBooks to do just this by selecting the Remove Inventory Transactions option button. (If you don’t want to remove old transactions, select the Keep All Inventory Transactions button.) Click Next to continue to the third Condense Data dialog box (not shown), which asks which transactions should considered closed.
Specify which transactions should be considered closed.
When you click Next, QuickBooks asks for a bit more information about what exactly constitutes a closed or old transaction that should be removed. You select check boxes to indicate whether transactions before the removal date should be removed even if they’re uncleared, marked To Be Printed, flagged as To Be Sent, and so on. And then you click Next to move on to the fourth Condense Data dialog box.
Specify any list cleanup that should occur.
Use the fourth Condense Data dialog box to tell QuickBooks it should also clean up some of the lists. You can select check boxes on the Condense Data dialog box, for example.
By cleaning up your list through the removal of unused list items, you not only reduce the size of the company file, but also make it easier for people to work with the list.
QuickBooks displays the fifth page of the Condense Data dialog box, as shown in the following illustration.
Confirm your condensing and archiving operation.
After you describe how you want QuickBooks to archive and condense the company file, QuickBooks displays the fifth Condense Data dialog box. This dialog box asks you to confirm your decision to archive and condense the data file. Use this dialog box to confirm the fact that you want to archive and condense the data.
Click Begin Condense.
QuickBooks begins the process of condensing the data file.
Back up the data file when prompted.
At the very beginning of the condense process, QuickBooks prompts you to back up the QuickBooks company file. Backing up the QuickBooks company file as part of a condense operation works the same as backing up the QuickBooks company file at any other time.
After you back up the QuickBooks company file, QuickBooks saves an archive copy of the company file and then cleans up the working version of the company file by using your instructions. Again, as noted in the earlier steps, the clean-up process may take only a few minutes or it may take several hours if your file is very large.