THIS ARTICLE on the QuickBooks support site states: "QuickBooks can handle a maximum of 2 billion transactions. Typically, the maximum is limited more by your computer's hard disk space than by QuickBooks." The support article also shows list limitations, and then goes on to provide a means of approximating data file size growth by explaining that each transaction takes up around 2 KB of space in the file. It also states that if the annual growth in file size is less than 15 MB, "then QuickBooks should be more than sufficient for the company."
2 Billion Transactions?
While this may be a theoretical database limit the QuickBooks developers have calculated, we're finding extremely different results in practice. The 2 billion transactions claim would equate to a data file size of at least 4 billion KB based on the 2KB per transaction approximation. In case you were wondering, that would be an enormous QuickBooks data file size of around 4 terabytes, 4,000 GB or 4 million MB, excluding the size of list items or other data. In our experience, we've found that a QuickBooks Pro or Premier file is considered a large file when going beyond the 300 MB mark, and a QuickBooks Enterprise file is considered large when going beyond the 500 - 600 MB mark. We do have clients that use powerful server hardware that have larger file sizes, but we haven't seen a data file larger than 1.5 GB performing satisfactorily on any hardware. So based on real world tests, we'd say that the actual transaction limits are closer to 500,000 transactions per QuickBooks data file, and that may even be stretching the file size too far. Based on the 2 KB per transaction approximation, 500,000 transactions would render a file of at least 1 million KB or around 1 GB. (excluding the size of list items)
Different company's data file sizes will be affected in different ways based on how many list items the company has, how many line items per transaction they enter, the relationships of the transactions, whether they use inventory tracking, price levels, classes, etc., so widely different file sizes will sometimes result from data files that have similar transaction counts. For instance, here are some examples of real world QuickBooks Enterprise 12.0 data files, sorted by file size: (all stats were measured immediately after data file maintenance tasks were performed) 95,641 transactions - 465 MB 100,096 transactions - 244 MB 31,107 transactions - 84MB 25,106 transactions - 78 MB 10,458 transactions - 57 MB 3,708 transactions - 24 MB Note that the first two files have very similar transaction counts, but one is about double the size.
QuickBooks Data File Maintenance
Intuit did increase the list limits in QuickBooks Enterprise with the release of the v13 (2013) version of the product, however its still to be seen how this change will affect actual file size limitations. In any case, we've found that QuickBooks files tend to require more maintenance as they grow larger and have a greater propensity to become corrupt as the file size increases, so this is a topic anyone using the QuickBooks products should be aware of, and have a plan for dealing with as their file grows larger. We provide data file maintenance services to many clients to ensure QuickBooks data files are being properly maintained on a periodic basis, and to ensure that the software is kept up to date. We also provide file size reduction services which will remove transactions from QuickBooks files and reduce file size. CLICK HERE to read more about our data file services, or give us a call to discuss further.