Practical Limitations in QuickBooks Enterprise File Size – Per Katie

I’m going to start off with saying that my opinion on this issue differs from Intuit’s knowledgebase document on this issue. Per Intuit, a QuickBooks Enterprise file can handle up to 2 billion (yep, you read that correctly) transactions. I’ve spoken to a number of Intuit employees on this issue, mainly because I, along with the vast majority of QB Consultants, and QuickBooks Support agents, recommend starting a new file size once your file hits 2-3 GB.

The rule of thumb in my world has always been that each 2 line transaction is about 2 KB in size. Saying that, this is an average. It is entirely possible to have transactions above this range, or lower, depending on the complexity of the transaction. Using math, you can see easily that a 3 GB file based on this average would be 3 million KB, or 1.5M transactions. This is nothing to sniff at, but I can’t get the math to work to get to the 2 billion transaction number recommended as a practical limitation. Intuit’s stance is that the size capability of the file depends more on the hardware than anything else. In practical use, I have seen files as large as 10 GB, but I have always recommended a new file to be built around the 2-3 GB mark at the most.

Why? Your main issue is fragmentation and corruption of the file. In the screen below you can see the file information on a sample file I use during my demonstrations. The highlighted area indicates the number of file fragments in the file. You want this number to be under 20 in an ideal world. Under 100 most definitely. See the trend? The higher the number of fragments the more probable it is that your file becomes corrupt and unstable. Fixing this is a bear, so proper file maintenance is key. I cannot reasonably see a 2 billion transaction file being supported by any hardware on the market, and especially having that number of transactions without having a fragmented file. (I used to have a blog post on file fragments and maintenance, but I lost it during a site move a few years ago. I will reproduce this soon).

Now, there is a new tool in QuickBooks Enterprise 2019 that truly can condense your file, and bring the size down 30% or so. I’ve seen files cut down by 40% and more. You access it in the File menu via Condense, and it will remove the Audit Trail from your file. Tip: As with any large change, make sure you make a copy of the file first, before you go making big changes!

With all of the above in mind, I would say QuickBooks Enterprise file sizes can vary based on volume, but I would keep in mind that with all of the variables in calculating file size it is next to impossible to determine the exact size of your new QuickBooks Enterprise software file with any certainty. The ranges above will get you in the ballpark, but each file is unique, so just keep this in mind.

QuickBooks Enterprise supports up to 30 users, and is the most robust QuickBooks software package on the market. It’s an amazing software. I rarely disagree with the advertised limitation, but I cannot see how realistically a QuickBooks Enterprise file would support 2 billion transactions. That being said, I’ve never seen a company with this number of transactions to bring in, so it doesn’t seem like a major issue. More like something to keep in mind when calculating file size. As long as you maintain good file practices you should be fine in most cases, and if a file does grow to a large size it is pretty straightforward to make a copy and cut off some of the transactions and the audit trail in order to drastically lower file size.

Any questions? Let me know!

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