QuickBooks Service Outage – Affecting Online Apps

| June 16, 2010

Starting Tuesday evening (June 15th) many Intuit web sites and services became unavailable due to a power outage at their data center. Even though you may be using the Desktop version of QuickBooks, this could have a major impact on your ability to conduct business.

Update 7/21/2010 – Please refer to my followup article on the latest news about outages.

I first heard of this through the Intuit Community Forum, where the following was posted:

imageIn this case, the Intuit Community web site seems to be working fine. Similar messages have been posted on other Intuit web sites

In some cases I was referred to several different Intuit status pages or blogs. In the QuickBase status site we see;

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In another I see:

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Information on this is popping up in different places, such as cnet news, and in emails I’ve received from some Intuit departments. The QuickBooks Online blog is apparently running at this time (I think it is hosted at a non-Intuit site), and they posted a message. This one is interesting because people are leaving comments here (not a happy group!) and Intuit employees are answering as best they can in this difficult situation.

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What can you do?

Actually, if this affects you, there isn’t a lot you can do if you are using a service that is affected. My friend Michelle Long posted a very helpful article that addresses a few issues such as email, payroll and credit cards. For the most part, if you are affected, all you can do at this time is wait.

Not all Intuit web services are affected by this – it is interesting to see what is and isn’t affected.

I Use the Desktop Version of QuickBooks, Why Should This Bother Me?

Intuit has been pushing in the direction of providing online services for a few years now, and with the release of the 2010 version they stepped into this in a big way. Even though you may be using a desktop version primarily, here are a few things that might be causing you problems with this outage:

  • Credit card processing – if you are using the Intuit product, you may have difficulty in processing credit card payments. I don’t use this myself so I can’t say if it is affected or not.
  • Payroll – this is a really big one, as most Intuit payroll services use some form of online features.
  • Document Management – if you are using the online document management program that came out with the 2010 version, you can’t add or retrieve your documents until this service is up and running again. One of the reasons that I tend to favor a local document management solution.
  • Intuit App Center – I recently talked about the push by Intuit to build online applications that work with your desktop data – well, here we are, none of those are working at this moment.

If you are using the desktop version (sorry, QuickBooks Online users…) then most of your business process is still functional, unless you are tied into an online application for inventory control or some other crucial feature. The biggest hurt that I’ve seen is with payroll and credit card processing, but there may be issues that I’m not thinking of here.

Is this indicative of a major flaw in Intuit’s game plan? Well, not necessarily. This kind of thing can happen, will happen, as we depend more and more on the Internet. While I’m not a fan of online applications myself (being old and curmudgeonly) but there are definite advantages to this kind of development. Outages like this are going to happen, you have to make plans on how to deal with them. AND, as my friend just pointed out to me, this can happen even if all of your data is on your office computer. Telephone lines fail, local power lines fail, desktop computers and local office servers can fail. You have to make plans on how to deal with these kinds of service outages regardless of where your data resides.

Is this indicative of a major design flaw in how Intuit manages online data? That is hard to say at this time. I don’t believe that there is a major problem here, but I can’t say for sure. Let’s see how long the outage occurs. More importantly (to me), let’s see if any of our data is lost when the service is brought back. That is a very key feature. Outages will happen, even with the best planned data centers. We have to live with that. A loss of data when service is restored is something that should not happen – we’ll see how Intuit does.

Funny thing – just a few days ago one reader of my blog asked about data security with Intuit data centers. That started me thinking, and I asked several of my Intuit contacts if I could get a statement. They all said that they would look into this and get back to me – at this point the best response I have was a link to this security statement relating to IPP (Intuit App Center)applications. I’m sure I’ll be hearing more in a few days, perhaps after the dust settles from the current problem.

NOTE: After I published this initally, some of the Intuit web sites and services started coming back online. If I hear of something I’ll add it in a “comment”, but I won’t promise to notify you of every re-established service, as I don’t use several of them.

For more information see Running QuickBooks During Intuit Server Outages.

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Category: General Tips

About the Author (Author Profile)

Charlie Russell is the founder of CCRSoftware. He’s been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70’s, focusing on inventory and accounting software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor. Look for Charlie’s articles in the Accountex Report blog, as well as his California Wildflower Hikes blog.

Comments (23)

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  1. Steve Gill says:

    Charlie,

    I don’t mind admitting that I was the one who asked you about security with Intuit data centers a couple of days ago. How ironic! IMHO, Intuit cannot claim to be ready for the “cloud” until incidents like today can be adequately explained. And by that I mean:

    1. If it is a physical data center problem, don’t they have redundant data centers with immediate cross-over procedures?

    2. If it is an Internet issue, don’t they have a plan in pace for moving applications to another site to keep them running?

    My question to you the other day was in response to a Net-savvy client who was concerned about using document management in QuickBooks without knowing where it was hosted and what security and catastrophy processes were in place to protect his data. My knee-jerk reaction was “Hey, this is Intuit..they have all those bases covered.” Fact was, I couldn’t find out the answers to his questions through any Intuit website or communication, so I reached out to you in hopes that you could. He was right, and I will now recommend AGAINST any Ituit online service until a GOOD explanation for this incident is presented and a GOOD reason why it will not recur next week is given.

    I have to admit, I cannot fathom how a company with a major thrust toward becoming a cloud-computing company could possibly respond to an event like this with an explanation of “We are trying to figure out what happened and will get it fixed as soon as our massive resources allow.” The ONLY acceptable response in the cloud of the future is “It won’t happen, if it does it will not affect you, and we have the resources in place to assure it. And here is how that works”

    Thanks for the continued valuable service you provide us, Charlie!

  2. Charlie says:

    Steve, my earlier questions to Intuit centered around security, as in unlawful access and data backups, etc.

    I hadn’t asked them about availability, which is what the issue is at this time.

    It will be interesting to see what their response is. I’ll withhold final judgement until that time.

    I’ll note that even Microsoft has had issues, recall the episodes with the smart phone user lists (etc) that they lost not that long ago.

    Funny thing (another one) – you left a message about this on the NAN (National Advisor Network) forum also, and I was trying to add a comment to you there. Can’t, because it is a QuickBase application, and it is out of service…

  3. Charlie says:

    I’m told that QuickBooks Online is back “Online” as of roughly 4:15 PM Pacific time (not sure of the exact time).

    One of the Intuit blogs that was out of service (one of the screen shots above) was back online, but then suddenly went offline again. It does take time to get things running again if you have a major blowout. If a service you are using DOES become available again, if you can afford to wait, you might wait a bit longer to make sure that things are settled down…

  4. Thanks for the mention Charlie!

  5. Charlie says:

    Hey, Michelle, I just found your new blog. I still had the old one in my reader…

  6. Charlie says:

    As of a bit after 8:00 PM Pacific time on June 16:

    Some web sites still down.

    QB Online users still having problems getting in the normal way, but for those, and Payroll users, an alternate login site is http://accounting.quickbooks.com – this may work if your alternate doesn’t (but not sure about that).

    QuickBase is back online. So things are getting better…

  7. tyrion gold says:

    disaster recovery is a hot topic these days, wasn’t there an earthquake in California yesterday, measuring a 5.7?

  8. Charlie says:

    According to Intuit, during “routine maintenance” an accidental power failure affected both primary and secondary systems…

  9. Charlie says:

    Tyrion, I’ve lived in California all my life. A 5.7 earthquake isn’t considered a disaster by any means, and isn’t that widespread of an event.

  10. Nancy says:

    Great article Charlie.

    Lots of very angry people on the Community Forums – not that I blame them – but still.

    All in all not a good couple of days for Intuit. Makes me glad that I use the desktop version and don’t rely heavily on many Intuit web-based offerings, such as credit card processing.

  11. Charlie says:

    Thank you, Nancy.

    I see from your blog at http://blog.sunburstsoftwaresolutions.com/2010/06/17/quickbooks-service-outage-practical-quickbooks-blog/ that your payroll services have been restored. Bit by bit, things seem to be back in service. I’ve still not heard any explanation of why they didn’t have a better disaster prevention/recovery plan in place.

    If anyone is still having problems with access to a feature, let us know…

  12. Dan says:

    This going on 40 hours now and it infuriates me that QuickBooks does not provide an eta for when the problem will be resolved.
    I think there is a much bigger problem then that is why it’s taking so long to fix. Furthermore, I think they are whitewashing the severity of the problem by not being more forthcoming with information about it.
    I mean come on, a “routine maintenance” issue and “power outage”?
    It doesn’t take that long to fix those types of issues.

    There will have to be some recompensation for lost time and lost business, though I’m sure Intuit will act like this was only a tiny baby minor blip..That’s why they are hiding the true nature and severity of the situation from its customers.

  13. Charlie says:

    Dan, what services are not available to you? Everything I use is back online – but I don’t use a lot of the online services from them so that isn’t a good test…

  14. Debbie says:

    I can’t get onto any of my quickbook online applications. this infuriates me that they don’t have an answer as to how long before i am up again. I am at a standstill since I can’t even charge credit cards.

  15. T. says:

    Quickbooks has suddenly decided to not recognize my email address as a user although I’ve used this address for the past couple of months. What to do?

  16. Simon says:

    QUICKBOOKS HAS ANOTHER POWER OUTAGE! 7/14/2010 NOTHING IS WORKING TELEPHONE INTERNET NOTHING! WAS BUYING QUICKBOOKS REALY WORTH IT? IVE ONLY HAD IT FOR TWO MONTHS AND ALREADY EXIERENCED TWO HUGE PROBLEMS WITH THIER COMPANY OUTAGES?

  17. SaA says:

    QB Online down AGAIN today. What happened to redundancy? and 99.9% up-time? WT? I’m done with them!

  18. Charlie says:

    Folks, I’m closing comments on this article – the discussion continues at http://qbblog.ccrsoftware.info/2010/07/quickbooks-service-outage-repeat/