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Merging Files in QuickBooks - Should You? Shouldn't You?

A number of inquiries have come in lately asking about "merging" two or more QuickBooks files together, and whether it could be done or not.

The better question to ask before asking if it could be done is...

"Should it be done?

Should you really merge two QuickBooks files together?"

MERGE VS. IMPORT

To make sure we're on the same page here, let's get a few definitions out of the way first (at least how I see them).

  • Merge - to actually combine ALL the contents of separate QuickBooks files together so that one QuickBooks file remains
  • Import - to selectively choose information (i.e. customers, inventory) and extract it from one QuickBooks file and pull it into another QuickBooks file

TO MERGE OR NOT TO MERGE

Over the years, I've heard many different scenarios where someone wants to merge QuickBooks files together.

To my original question about "should" you merge them?

My answer is a resounding NO.

Here's why I say you should NOT merge QuickBooks files together...

  • There is no direct way to accomplish this - no magic button exists within QuickBooks to merge files
  • The integrity of the file that is being merged into is completely lost - I shudder to think about the consequences of smashing two QuickBooks files together into one (try running historical financial reports after the merge - I think your CPA would have cardiac arrest at that point!)
  • Problems will inevitably surface (customer payments not applied correctly, incorrect bank reconciliations and many more potential headaches)

START A NEW FILE INSTEAD!

If there is a legitimate need to combine the information from two or more QuickBooks files, my suggestion is to create a brand new QuickBooks file as of a certain point in time (i.e. new fiscal year, beginning of a quarter, etc.). Leave the history in the old files for lookup purposes, and put future transactions in the new file. I think this will save you a ton of grief in the long run.

IMPORTING/PULLING INFORMATION INTO A NEW QUICKBOOKS FILE?

There are several ways to pull information from one QuickBooks file or external source to another QuickBooks file, including:

Even though these tools exist, it is still absolutely essential that you understand what they do, how they may impact existing information, and make sure that everyone is on board (including your outside accountant) about how your historical information may or may not change as a result of importing information into QuickBooks.

AGREE? DISAGREE?

You've read my take on merging QuickBooks files.

What's your take? Do you agree? Disagree?

Please drop your comments in the box below (or if you are reading this via e-mail, click the "view in browser" link to get to the comments box)

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