How Do I Automatically Perform a Scheduled Backup?

In QuickBooks, the scheduled backup function can be used to automatically perform a backup of the QuickBooks company file (.qbw) based on closing the company file or on a set interval ranging from 1 to 5 weeks on any combination of the days of the week.

See our related article on QuickBooks data file naming restrictions for how violating these restrictions can cause scheduled backups to fail.

A backup can be performed to a local hard disk, a network drive, or a USB drive.  For a scheduled backup to take place, the computer on which you scheduled the backup must be on, but the QuickBooks company file (.qbw) cannot be in use.

Scheduled backups will be created in the location you specify and will have a .QBB extension.  This is one of the file types used by QuickBooks.

A scheduled backup’s filename will be in the form:

SBU_n_[companyID] [optional: date time].QBB

where n is the sequence number of the backup.  That is, the 10th scheduled backup for TestCompany with the optional date and time stamps disabled will be named:


To schedule an automatic backup, start by clicking on the File->Save Copy or Backup… menu selection.

Click the Next button to display the Backup Options window.  Specify the location to save your backup file by typing the complete path to your backup location or by clicking the Browse… button and browsing to the desired location.

Beyond specifying the location used to save your backups, you can control:

  • whether the date and time is added to the name of the backup file
  • whether the number of backups in the backup location is limited
  • whether you will be reminded to manually back up when closing the company file
  • the degree of verification performed prior to backup

Verification is the process of checking the company file and the internal database for possible damage.  Complete verification is not available in multi-user mode.  If you opt for at least some data verification prior to backup, QuickBooks will automatically create a transaction log file (.tlg).  The transaction log file records changes to your company file since the last backup and can be used in extreme circumstances to recover data from recent transactions.

If you opt to save your backup on the same drive that holds your QuickBooks company file (.qbw), you’ll be warned to choose another location.  Depending on the role that a scheduled backup plays in your overall backup strategy, this warning may not be relevant.  You can either click Use this Location and continue or choose a different location by clicking Change Location.

Once you’ve chosen to use the location you’ve entered, you can continue to either perform a manual backup, perform a manual backup and schedule future backups, or simply schedule future backups.  To proceed to schedule backups, select the radio button for Only schedule future backups and click Next.

We’re now ready to schedule our backups.  We can create a schedule based on backing up the company file when its closed (i. e., not based on the calendar) or on a calendar-based schedule taking place on a set interval from 1 to 5 weeks on any combination of the days of the week.

Scheduling a backup based on when the company file (.qbw) is closed has the advantage that one of the requirements for performing a backup (i. e., that the company file not be open) is satisfied.  However, because the company file could be opened and closed several times in a short period of time, backups may be performed on data with minimal changes, thereby reducing the value of the backups.

On the other hand, scheduling a backup based on the calendar insures that a reasonable amount of time has elapsed between backups, but because the company file may have been inadvertently left open, there is no guarantee that a scheduled backup will take place as planned.  Once you’ve decided which backup approach fits your computing habits, click New… to set a new schedule, Edit… to modify an existing schedule, or Remove to delete one.

Enter a Description to help you describe this backup schedule.  Specify a Location or click Browse… and navigate to the desired location.  If you’d like to limit the number of backups made under this schedule in the backup folder, click the checkbox and specify a number to keep.  Record the time to perform the backup.  Choose the frequency in weeks from 1 to 5 to perform this backup, and the days of the week the backup should be performed.

To insure that a backup can be performed if the Windows user is logged off, QuickBooks stores the Username and Password of the Windows user.  Click Store Password… to enter your Windows Username and Password.  Remember: these are the credentials you use to log in to Windows, not QuickBooks itself.  Click Ok when you’re done.

The backup schedule you just created will now appear in the list of available backup schedules, showing the next date on which this schedule will be performed.

Click Finish to save the scheduled backup.  QuickBooks will report that your backups have been scheduled.

Your scheduled backups will now take place as planned.  Just be sure to exit QuickBooks so your company file (.qbw) is not in use at the appointed time!

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  1. how do you back-up every time you close the program. You explained that it is an option but not how to do it,
    Thank u

  2. Using QB Enterprise, not sure if companies are EVER actually closed on the server, rather as people leave, they close whatever company they’re working on. Does this mean that the file is closed, and I can do an automated backup in the middle of the night as requested?

  3. I have a large number of Quickbooks files that I have scheduled to backup each night to the server. The backups then get backed up to the cloud shortly thereafter. Because QB permits scheduling in 10 minute increments, I am running out of time slots to schedule a backup, meaning that my cloud backup doesn’t have time to complete before we begin work in the morning.

    So, my question is, can I schedule multiple files to back up at the same time? For example File A is automatically set to backup at 12:10 am, and so is File B, and so if File C, each of which I’ve gone into and set the auto backup for. This is client data, I don’t want to accidentally mess up their backups.

    • Chief Mechanic says

      I’d skip the step of running an automatic backup within QB. Instead, I’d backup the actual company file to the cloud. That will save a lot of time. Next, I’d make it part of your regular monthly work to perform a manual backup with full verification. You don’t have to do anything in particular with the backup file, but it will make your QB company file operate more quickly.

  4. If I simply make a copy of the .qbw file using other backup software does that retain all the necessary data needed to recover from an incident or does the backup need to be run from Quickbooks to retain all of the data? The reason I am asking is because our backup plan only copies our .qbw files and I am hoping these are sufficient.