QuickBooks R8 offers a surprise or two.
After resurrecting a client’s Windows XP computer (an adventure in itself), I noticed that its 2-user version of QuickBooks Pro 2011 R8 wouldn’t start. Initially I thought that it would be easy to fix after I re-installed the computer on-site. I was wrong.
Without wasting too much time looking for obvious problems, I contacted Intuit tech support. The friendly level 1 tech support lady logged on remotely to look for problems. Eventually, she uninstalled QuickBooks and re-installed it. No joy. She told me that I’d need to speak with a level 2 tech support person, who would soon phone me. I took a lunch break.
I didn’t receive a phone call, so I again called Intuit tech support and eventually spoke with a level 2 tech support lady. She also logged in remotely and un-installed QuickBooks again, created a new Windows user named TEST, logged in to Windows as TEST, and re-installed QuickBooks again. This time it worked, when logged on as any user! When asked why it worked, she said something about user profiles. This was Tuesday.
The client continued to use QuickBooks in shared mode on this and a second computer throughout the week. He re-started the computer on Monday morning and QuickBooks wouldn’t run. I noticed that QuickBooks’ tech support page carried this notice:
(IMPORTANT NOTICE: We are working to resolve issues with the R8 update for QuickBooks 2011 and Enterprise Solutions 11.0. If you already installed the update, follow these instructions. Otherwise, stay on your current release, and we’ll update our site when we have a solution. )
Again, I poked around and couldn’t find anything obviously wrong, and again spent hours on the phone with Intuit tech support. We tried the same tactic that had worked last week, but now it didn’t work.
The level 1 tech support people assured me that level 2 tech support would solve my problem, but the level 2 tech support people weren’t available. Could I await a call-back? I said sure; during what hours were the level 2 tech support available? This stumped them. It’s either 6 AM to 6 PM PST, or 8 AM to 8 PM PST, or 8 AM to 8 PM EST.
While examining QuickBooks Pro 2-user R8, I noticed that, like most multi-user accounting software, it’s built upon a database management system. In this case, it seemed to be Sybase’s SQL Anywhere, which starts as a Windows service before QuickBooks itself runs. It appeared that the SQL Anywhere service was starting and then almost immediately stopping, so of course QuickBooks couldn’t work.
That evening, I tried contacting Intuit’s level 2 tech support and instead reached a level 1 tech support person. When I mentioned that I thought that the underlying problem was that the Sybase SQL Anywhere service wouldn’t remain running, he replied that he couldn’t support or discuss third-party programs. At this point, I’d had enough.
I’ll fix it without Intuit’s tech support
I shut the door, blocked all interruptions, rolled up my sleeves, and (again) uninstalled QuickBooks. From reading frustrated users’ messages, I’d learned that QuickBooks must be installed into a clean environment. I emptied the computer’s temporary directories, deleted vestigial folders that referred to Intuit or QuickBooks, created Windows user TEST2, ran Ccleaner to clean the registry of vestigial references, and re-installed QuickBooks. It still wouldn’t run.
Since the installed copy of Ccleaner was old, I downloaded and installed the latest Ccleaner. Its installer refused to run: Windows complained with an odd error message: “%1 Is Not a Valid Win32 Application”. Maybe THIS was why the SQL Anywhere service wouldn’t remain running? This led me in the direction of suspecting a virus infection, but that led nowhere.
To my surprise, Microsoft’s tech support pages didn’t help. Googling eventually uncovered one message that someone (not a QuickBooks user) had fixed the “%1 Is Not a Valid Win32 Application” problem in a different context by deleting an orphaned file in the system’s root, C:\. I examined this system’s root directory, and found an orphaned file of about 30kB in size named Documents. After deleting this file, the Ccleaner installer executed without trouble. I was on the right track!
I uninstalled QuickBooks (again!), cleaned up the registry and file directories (again!), and installed QuickBooks (again!). This time it worked. I knew it would work when I saw that the SQL Anywhere service had started and remained running.
When Intuit repairs R8, I’ll probably wait a while before trying the update.