File sharing services like Dropbox, SugarSync, Box.net (or others) allow you to access the files from any PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry or Android and share files with others. Some frequent questions I hear include “Can I use Dropbox (or SugarSync, Box.net, et al) to share the QuickBooks file with someone else? What if I am the only one using QuickBooks — can I use Dropbox for the QuickBooks company file so I can access QuickBooks from work, home or anywhere?”
File sharing services are like a USB or flash drive in the cloud (i.e. a server) that you can access from anywhere and share specific files or folders with others. Most of these services provide some storage space free and allow you to earn more free space by referring others who register to use the service. Using Dropbox, SugarSync, Box.net, etc. can be a great method of offsite storage for QuickBooks backup or portable files (QBB or QBM). However, you should NOT use Dropbox, SugarSync, Box.net or other file sharing service with financial application data files like QuickBooks (QBW file) or Quicken. This is from SugarSync’s website:
If you do want to sync data files to another computer, bear in mind that database driven applications use file locking to protect their data files whenever the application services are running. This file locking can cause SugarSync to create duplicate files when it tries to update a file on another computer.
The following file types are not currently supported for syncing: Outlook .pst, Quicken, and Quickbooks. In addition, please note that system folders cannot be synced.
Here’s an example of the problems from a recent question posted on the Intuit Community Forum:
Having a problem using Dropbox with QuickBooks. When I open QuickBooks it says another user created the file and will not let me open the data file.
I am the only person using QuickBooks. How do I get this problem to go away?
When asked about using Dropbox for the QuickBooks company file (QBW), Doug Sleeter, Founder and President of The Sleeter Group and one of the nation’s leading small business accounting software experts replied:
I would stay away from using Dropbox for QuickBooks company files (QBW files). There is simply too much that can go wrong, and the risk of file corruption is too great.
My opinion is that it is absolutely NOT good practice to do that. I love Dropbox for synching data, but specifically NOT the QuickBooks data file (QBW). The reason is that the QuickBooks company file is always being written to by the database server and it is completely unpredictable as to what state the file is in at any given moment. So if two computers have a “synced” version of the QuickBooks file, how will either know whether the other guy has it “open”, and then how will they be sure that all the syncing is complete even if the user says they’re not “in the QuickBooks” file?
It’s just too much to manage and the risks of file corruption are too great.
So use Dropbox all you want, but NOT with the QuickBooks company file (QBW).
It is important to note that these recommendations apply even if you are the only one using the QuickBooks file. Mario Nowogrodzki, CPA, CITP, Founder and Principal of Mendelson Consulting (which specializes in QuickBooks and Information Technology consulting services) comments:
I’m one of the biggest Dropbox fans you’ll find. But I do not recommend using Dropbox for a live QuickBooks file. There is constant read-write going on a live QuickBooks file (QBW); you don’t want a QuickBooks file that’s open and being worked on to be sync’d onto the Dropbox cloud folder. I do recommend Dropbox for use as a QuickBooks backup folder, for example.
You can use Dropbox, SugarSync, Box.net or other file sharing services to share a QuickBooks backup or portable file with clients or others. However, please do not put the QuickBooks working company file (QBW) or Quicken file in these folders. In case you’re tempted to try it, read this and here’s another person’s experience posted in the Intuit Community Forum:
I have this just setup and have run into an issue right away. The short answer is, you can use SugarSync to sync QuickBooks BACKUP files, but not actual, active QuickBooks (or Quicken) files or any database file, or .pst files (from the SugarSync support team). It causes errors.
I was planning to use SugarSync to be able to work at home, at night when all work computers are shut off so there would be no conflicted files, but no go, I now have a file that says it was last modified 1970.
Please do not try to use Dropbox, SugarSync, Box.net or other file sharing services for the QuickBooks company file (QBW) and help spread the word to clients or others so they do not corrupt their QuickBooks company file. QuickBooks SharedBooks is a new concept from Intuit that would allow you to share the QuickBooks working company file with others without the risk of data file corruption or conflicted files.