Question: I am a CPA and have several clients who run QB Pro 2010. I also have my own copy in my own office. Normally, I take a backup of work done on site per client and then restore it to my own PC. Any tips on making this process mistake proof? What’s the actual difference between a QBW, a QBB and a QBM file? Thanks for any advice
Answer: It is not uncommon for Accounting Professionals to need to work on a client data file. However, the question is what is actually being done? That is, are they going to make changes and then give the data back to the client? In that case, they may be better off using the Accountant's Copy feature - although it does depend on what exactly you are doing with the file.
Understanding the different file types:
A QBW file is the "native" file. Uncompressed, and just the QuickBooks company file by itself.
A QBB file is a backup. Compressed a bit, and it includes other files that may be a part of the client installation, such as logo/graphics for forms, loan manager files, etc.
A QBM file is a compressed file that is more portable, usually used if you are emailing a file. It is not as complete as a QBB.
If the accounting professional takes any file back to their office other than the Accountant's Copy, and make changes that need to get back to the client – the client then cannot do any work (other than just viewing the file) on their side while the accounting professional has it. If they do, those changes will be lost when the accounting professional restores the file that they had been working on.
The Accountant's Copy process gets around that BUT there are restrictions and limitations.
Alternately, the accounting professional can choose to not bring back the file, and instead log in to their computer remotely and do your work on the original file. Then there is only one copy of the file. But that requires a good Internet connection, and a computer at their office that remains on and not in use so you can access it.
Going beyond that are more involved solutions, like using a Hosted QuickBooks installation or switching to QuickBooks Online.