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My church uses Quickbooks 2005. They have a backup to a 512 MB thumbdrive. They have been backing up about every week for the past 18 months. The filesize of the backups have grown from 14 MB to about 23 MB.

I was planning on giving them a 1 or 2 GB thumb drive and calling it a day, but when I dumped this info into Excel and projected out the growth rate, I found that we'll hit 1 GB in July, and 10 GB in about another 18 months, and then 100 GB about 18 months after that.

It looks to me like Quickbooks saves all the transactions with every backup. Is there a way to force incremental backups? If this is the way it is, that's fine, but I'd rather not keep buying another order of magnitude of storage space every 18 months. Can I safely delete the previous backups, and just keep the recent 2 or 3 months worth?

Here are the graphs of my data:

File Size

Total Space

It looks to me like a linear growth rate of the individual backups, and an exponential growth rate of the storage space required.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Is there any value to keeping every single backup ever made, especially on the same media? And is this data actually going to grow linearly? I doubt that the data growth rate will climb at a steady rate for a single church.

You might want to look at something like Mozy or Carbonite for off-site backup, since a flash drive isn't the best medium for a backup anyway, but if you must have a removable drive for storage, why not have a few flash drives that rotate in case of failure and get a ~500GB external hard drive to keep backups that are older than a couple of months?

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That's the crux of my question. Can I delete all the backups except for the last 2 or 3 months worth? I'm not familiar with Quickbooks backup format, but this really looks like a full backup every week. Lots of redundant data. – Nathan DeWitt May 20 '10 at 12:04
Ah, I see now. Yes you can delete the previous backups, QB makes fulls. – MDMarra May 20 '10 at 13:34

I've had Quickbooks for 15 years, and my file size is 150 MB. I do a full backup once a week, and only keep the last 3 backups (don't really even need that many).

The other answers explain the backup better, but my point is to tell you that the file won't increase in size as much as predicted.

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Quickbooks like Quicken saves its data in only a few files. Those files get changed during transactions and you will need to back them up again. It isn't like a word processor where you are creating different files - these are the same files, just stuff gets appended into the file. So, incremental backups which rely on there being new files added or some few files of many being changed, isn't an option.

In addition, being a double-entry accounting system means that initial growth of the data normally is very rapid, but then starts to level off a bit after you create the core accounts and the common supplier accounts. I would expect your files to follow this and start to slow in growth.

I would also advise to try and use compression. The file format for Quickbooks I don't believe to be too efficient. Compressing the files prior to or during backup may save you lots of space.

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The initial accounts have all been created, and it's been stable for a few years. I believe we're in the slow growth phase, but look at my graphs. – Nathan DeWitt May 20 '10 at 12:23

You can delete every backup except the last, if you wish, as every time you do File | Back Up Company | Local Backup | Local Backup it will do a complete backup. However, if a mistake is made in data entry, and especially in data editing, it can be useful to have more than the latest backup.

2005 is so old, it's not well documented, but you may also have a Portable File option for it. The Portable File omits the search indexes (which make files grow rapidly), and if your 2005 has that option, you might consider it.

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