How to Install Quickbooks After a Hard Drive Failure

by David Roberts

A common nightmare for business owners is the seemingly inevitable computer crash or other hard drive failure. An event like this is unpredictable, so avoiding total disaster requires prevention and planning. Ideally, you will backup your company file each day at day-end. That way, if a hard drive failure occurs, you will be able to recover most of the transactions that have been entered. Installing QuickBooks after such an event depends on whether you received the CD by mail or downloaded the software.

Find the license number and product number you will need to install your QuickBooks program. If you purchased the CD, you will find the number on a bright yellow sticker on the original CD envelope. If you cannot find the original envelope, you will have to contact customer service at Intuit to get a new number assigned to your copy of QuickBooks. If you downloaded the program, search for the confirmation email you received after the download. If you do not have the email available, you will have to contact customer service and download the program again. If the version is more than three years old, you may have to upgrade to the current year's version.

Begin installing the QuickBooks setup file in the new computer or on the new hard drive. Insert the disc into the disc drive and follow the prompts. If you downloaded the program, go to the website you downloaded it from and sign in with your customer number and password. Click on the "My Downloads" tab and then the "Downloading versions of QuickBooks products from the Internet." The version you purchased and downloaded previously will be located here. Look for the ".exe" extension. Click on the "Download" button and wait, the wizard will guide the download.

Click on the "Install" button. Once the program has been downloaded, the Installation Wizard will pop up. Choose the "Easy" or automatic method of installation, not the "Custom" method, as the custom version is a little more difficult to complete. The wizard will complete the process of installing QuickBooks and will bring up the easy-step interview as it did the first time you installed QuickBooks. Don't complete the interview, as it will create another company file. Now that the QuickBooks software has been safely reinstalled onto the computer, you will need to restore the original company file. Installing the software without the original company file means you will have lost all prior transactions from years or months past and will have to enter them again. A company file without the QuickBooks program is useless and the QuickBooks program without the company file means having to repeat a lot of work already completed. Installation of QuickBooks and restoring the backup file are two parts of the same task.

Restore the latest backup file you have. Once the software is up and running, click on the "File" button on the top menu bar, scroll down to the "Restore Backup" button and find the backup on the flash drive or the external drive. Choose that file to restore and click "OK." Follow the prompts. You will be asked where you wish to save the new company file to. Save one to the desktop and before signing off for the day, save another to the flash drive or the external hard drive. If this is the only company file you have on the computer, the QuickBooks software will find it and open the file for you.

Examine the most recent transactions. Run a report on recent transactions to determine which, if any need to be re-entered. Click on the "Reports" button and scroll down to the "Customers" reports. Choose the "Transaction List by Customer." When the report populates with the data, look for the most recent transactions to see if the dates prior to the crash are there. Repeat the procedure for the "Vendors" reports. If any of the transactions are missing, you will have to re-enter them from the hard copy of invoices and receipts.


  • check Register for an off-site data storage service. The cost is usually reasonable and you can have every file on your computer backed up every night. This will prevent an instance like this from happening again. Off-site storage protects against data loss, should the computer be stolen or destroyed as well.

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About the Author

David Roberts has been writing since 1985. He has published for various websites including online business news publications. He has over 11 years experience in tax preparation and small business consultation. He is also a Certified Fraud Examiner. He received a Master of Business Administration from Florida Metropolitan University in 2005.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera computer image by blaine stiger from