When you create a company in QuickBooks there will be several files created. One has a file type of “QBW” – that is your actual company data file. Another that is created has a file type of “TLG”, and that is the source of some confusion as well as some misunderstandings. Let’s review a few facts about this file.
What the TLG File Contains
As you use your QuickBooks company file it is being updated with the transactions that you enter. In addition to updating the company file, QuickBooks will save information about the transactions in the TLG or Transaction Log file. QuickBooks is tracking all of the changes that you make to your company file. The TLG file continues to grow, and it isn’t unusual to see the TLG file become bigger than the QBW file.
I’m told by some people that as the TLG file grows you may see some decrease in system performance, at least when the file gets very large. I’ve not been able to confirm that myself. The increased file size certainly can impact performance and possibly cost of backup programs and procedures.
What Use is the TLG File?
In your normal day-to-day operation of QuickBooks, the TLG file is of no use to you. You don’t have a way to look at it, your use of QuickBooks won’t be affected by its presence. So what is its value to you?
The value of the TLG file is for data restoration. If your company file is erased or damaged, the TLG file can be used in conjunction with your most recent backup to restore transactions that were entered since that backup. Let me give you a simplified example.
- You have an inventory item that has an on-hand quantity of 10.
- You make a backup copy of your company file (more on this later).
- You receive 20 more of that item.
- For some reason your company file is damaged, but you still have the current TLG file and your backup file.
- You restore the backup, now you are back to an on-hand quantity of 10.
- The transaction log is applied to your restored backup, it gets you back to 20 on-hand.
Sounds simple? Unfortunately it isn’t. You cannot apply the transaction log, only certain businesses can.
Who Can Restore a TLG File?
There is no user-accessible utility program that will let you take a backup file and update it with the transaction log. Some options that you have are:
- QuickBooks Data Services (Intuit QuickBooks Support): Their web site is a bit vague, it is not clear if these fees apply to applying a transaction log to a backup. Their data recovery service comes in two flavors, “standard” at $250 with your project being added to the queue (I’ve heard it can be multiple days or more) and “express” at $750 where you go to the top of the queue. There is a nonrefundable analysis fee.
- AccountingUsers, Inc: They advertise a standard service ($275 for two business days) and expedited service ($450 overnight). No fee if they are not successful. http://quickbooksusers.com/datarepair.htm
- QB or not QB: At this time I’m not sure what their fee is, most likely it will be variable depending on the size of your file and how quickly you want it turned around. http://www.qbornotqb.com/
Each of these services have a cost – a fee that you will have to pay, and a turnaround time during which you cannot use your QuickBooks company file to add or change ANY information.
Note that I have not used any of these services for this kind of recovery. I’ve spoken with the people at AccountingUsers Inc and QB or Not QB on multiple occasions, and they sound like reasonable people with the appropriate technical knowledge, but I haven’t tested the services.
Why Not Just Delete It?
OK, we’ve established that the file gets large and takes up space (particularly if you are copying backups and this file to a CD or other media), that it might slow down performance as it gets larger, and that you have to pay money to be able to use it to recover data. Why bother with it? Can’t I just delete it?
If you have been reading my blog for long you will know that I am a bit hyper about data security and backups. So, do we need the file? On one hand, if you have a good backup plan (see Backing Up QuickBooks Data for example), you are making regular backups in several ways, and if a disaster occurs you can restore your backups with a minimum of fuss. No need for the TLG file?
Well, I don’t agree with that. I believe that you have to take advantage of every opportunity for data security that you possibly can. That means that you should be using the QuickBooks backup feature, and including the TLG file in your set of files that are backed up daily (or at least very often). It adds one more level of safety to your backup plan, in case you run into an odd situation. Sometimes, for example, you can have damaged data in your QBW file that just cannot be fixed. The damage may not be noticeable right away, so your daily backups might also be corrupted. A good QBB backup and matching TLG file may be what you need to get back to the point before the damage occurred, and then move forward to your current state.
Note that if you delete the TLG file, QuickBooks will just start another, but it will have limited use as it is incomplete.
Managing QuickBooks Backups and the TLG File
The general concept for managing backups and TLG files is that when you make a backup using the QuickBooks backup feature (from the File menu), QuickBooks will create a file with a QBB file type and clear out the TLG file. The backup has all the transactions saved, so you don’t need that transaction log. From that point on the TLG file will grow again, holding all transactions since that backup.
However, not all backup files are equal. QuickBooks will only delete the TLG file if you make a manual backup with the verify option on.
If you do not select the complete verification, the TLG file is not cleared and your QBB file cannot be used with that TLG file. In addition, this must be a manual backup, selecting backup from the File menu. A scheduled backup will not perform this function, even if complete verification is selected. QuickBooks Online Backups, or backups that you make yourself with your own backup programs, also won’t work.
The TLG file and your company file must match. You cannot use it, for example, to “merge” transactions from another computer (such as your home laptop, to merge to your office workstation). If you copy a TLG from your laptop back to your office computer, QuickBooks will see that they don’t match and will “reset” the TLG file, lose all saved transactions in the log.
I should note also that making a portable company file has no affect on your TLG file – BUT if you RESTORE a portable company file, it won’t match the TLG file and the TLG file will be reset.
Here is a company file (fairly small) and a TLG file before making the backup:
- DO NOT delete the TLG file if at all possible.
- PERIODICALLY run a manual QuickBooks backup and save the QBB file
- INCLUDE the TLG file in your daily backup routine.