What Is a QuickBooks Portable File and How to Use It: A Comprehensive Guide

As a small business owner, keeping track of financial data is crucial. QuickBooks is one of the most popular accounting software options out there, and it offers a variety of features to help you manage …

As a small business owner, keeping track of financial data is crucial. QuickBooks is one of the most popular accounting software options out there, and it offers a variety of features to help you manage your finances. One of these features is the QuickBooks Portable File, which allows you to easily backup, restore, import, and export your financial data. In this comprehensive guide, we will explain what a QuickBooks Portable File is and how to use it effectively.

What is a QuickBooks Portable File?

QuickBooks is a popular accounting software used by many small businesses to manage their financial data. One of the features that QuickBooks offers is the ability to create a portable file. In this article, we will explore what a QuickBooks portable file is, how it differs from a regular QBW file, the benefits of using a portable file, and how to create one in QuickBooks.

Definition of a QuickBooks Portable File

A QuickBooks portable file is a compressed version of a company file that can be easily shared and transferred to another computer or location. It contains all the financial data that is included in a QBW file, but in a smaller and more condensed format. A portable file has a .QBM file extension, which stands for QuickBooks Portable Company File.

Differences between a Portable Company File and a QBW file

A QuickBooks portable file is different from a regular QBW file in a few ways. First, a portable file is smaller in size than a QBW file, making it easier to transfer and share with others. Second, a portable file does not contain some of the additional features that are included in a QBW file, such as attached documents, logos, and templates. Third, a portable file is not meant to be the primary file used for day-to-day accounting operations. Instead, it serves as a backup or a snapshot of the company file at a specific point in time.

Benefits of using a Portable File for backup and sharing

There are several benefits to using a QuickBooks portable file for backup and sharing. Firstly, it is a quick and easy way to transfer financial data from one computer to another. This can be helpful if you have multiple users or if you need to work on your financials from a different location. Secondly, since a portable file is smaller in size than a QBW file, it can save disk space and make it easier to manage your files. Finally, a portable file can serve as a backup in case of data loss or corruption in your primary QBW file.

How to create a Portable File in QuickBooks

Creating a QuickBooks portable file is a simple process. Here are the steps:

  1. Open QuickBooks and select the company file you want to make portable.
  2. Click on the “File” menu and select “Create Copy.”
  3. In the “Create Copy” window, select “Portable company file” and click “Next.”
  4. Choose a location to save the portable file and click “Save.”
  5. QuickBooks will create the portable file and save it to the location you selected.

It is important to note that the portable file will not include any attached documents, logos, or templates. If you need to transfer these items as well, you will need to export them separately.

How to Restore a QuickBooks Portable File

In our previous section, we discussed what a QuickBooks Portable File is and the benefits of using it for backup and sharing purposes. In this section, we will guide you through the process of restoring a Portable File in QuickBooks.

Step-by-Step Guide to Restore a QuickBooks Portable File

  • Step 1: Open QuickBooks Launch QuickBooks Desktop software on your computer and sign in to your company file.
  • Step 2: Click on the “File” menu Once you have signed in, click on the “File” menu located on the top left corner of the screen.
  • Step 3: Select “Open or Restore Company” From the “File” menu, click on the “Open or Restore Company” option.
  • Step 4: Choose “Restore a Portable File” Next, select “Restore a Portable File” and click “Next” to continue.
  • Step 5: Locate the Portable File You will be asked to locate the Portable File that you want to restore. Navigate to the location where the Portable File is saved, select the file, and click “Open.”
  • Step 6: Choose the location to save the restored file After you have selected the Portable File, QuickBooks will ask you to choose a location to save the restored company file. You can save it to your local drive or to a network location.
  • Step 7: Name the restored file Next, give the restored company file a new name. QuickBooks will add the .QBW extension automatically.
  • Step 8: Review the summary Review the summary of the restoration process before clicking on “Restore.” Ensure that the details are correct and that you have selected the right file to restore.
  • Step 9: Wait for the restoration process to complete Once you click on “Restore,” QuickBooks will start restoring the Portable File. The time it takes to complete the restoration process will depend on the size of the file.

Things to Consider before Restoring a QuickBooks Portable File

Before restoring a Portable File, here are some important things to consider:

  • Ensure that you have a backup of the original company file before restoring the Portable File. This is important in case the restoration process fails or the restored file is corrupted.
  • Make sure you have the right version of QuickBooks Desktop installed on your computer. You cannot restore a Portable File in a version of QuickBooks that is older than the one used to create the file.
  • Check to ensure that the Portable File is not damaged or corrupted. You can do this by opening the file and verifying that all the data is intact.

Common Issues and How to Troubleshoot Them

Restoring a Portable File in QuickBooks can sometimes encounter issues. Here are some common problems and how to troubleshoot them:

  • Invalid file format error: This error occurs when the file you are trying to restore is not in a valid Portable File format. To fix this, check to ensure that you have selected the correct file to restore.
  • QuickBooks freezes during restoration: This could be due to a large file size or insufficient memory on your computer. To fix this, close other programs and try restoring the file again.
  • Error message “The file you specified cannot be opened”: This error can occur if the file is corrupted or damaged. Try restoring the file from a backup or contact QuickBooks support for further assistance.

Best Practices for Using QuickBooks Portable Files

QuickBooks Portable Files offer a great way to backup and share financial data. However, to ensure that you get the best out of Portable Files, it is important to adopt certain best practices. Here are some tips to help you use QuickBooks Portable Files effectively.

How Often to Create Portable Files for Backup

Backing up financial data is critical for small businesses. It is important to create Portable Files regularly to avoid data loss in case of a system failure or other issues. It is recommended to create a Portable File at least once a week or after every significant change in your financial data. This ensures that you have the most up-to-date version of your data in case you need to restore it.

How to Store Portable Files Securely

It is important to store Portable Files in a secure location to protect your financial data. You should always store Portable Files in a password-protected folder or an encrypted drive. This will prevent unauthorized access to your financial data. Additionally, you can also store Portable Files on a cloud-based storage service with encryption and two-factor authentication.

Best Practices for Sharing Portable Files with Others

If you need to share your financial data with your accountant, partner, or any other party, you can use Portable Files. However, you should take precautions to ensure that your data is secure. You should share Portable Files only with trusted parties and use secure file sharing methods. You can password-protect the Portable File and send the password separately to ensure that only the intended recipient can access the data.

How to Delete Unnecessary Portable Files

Over time, you may accumulate multiple Portable Files, which can take up storage space on your computer. It is important to delete unnecessary Portable Files regularly. To do this, locate the Portable Files that you no longer need and delete them. You can also use the QuickBooks Clean Up Company Data feature to delete unnecessary data from your file.


a QuickBooks Portable File is a powerful tool that can make sharing and backing up financial data easier and more efficient. By creating a portable file, you can ensure that your data is secure and can be easily shared with others. However, it is important to remember to follow best practices when creating, storing, and sharing these files. By doing so, you can avoid potential issues and ensure that your financial data remains safe and secure. With this comprehensive guide, you now have the knowledge and tools necessary to make the most of QuickBooks Portable Files and streamline your accounting processes.