Using Quicken from Dropbox

While waiting for a more robust solution, Quicken Inc. could add limited SINGLE USER support for Dropbox by moving the Quicken data file from Dropbox to the local drive before opening it, then moving it back to Dropbox after closing it.

I have been using a version of the script below to do this for over a year with no problems, but it would be much better if the functionality of this script were "hidden" in the Quicken opening sequence.

REMINDER:
   This is NOT an attempt to enable multiple concurrent users!
   The purpose is ONLY to make the Quicken data file available in a central location
   so a SINGLE USER could access it at DIFFERENT TIMES from DIFFERENT PLACES.

EXAMPLE:
   When I'm traveling on business, my wife could update Quicken in the morning,
   and I could look at what she did when I get back to my hotel in the evening.

SAMPLE SCRIPT:

   @Echo off
   cls   
 
   rem ***********************************************************************************
   rem ***  Put a "place holder" file in Dropbox to indicate "File in use"
   rem ***********************************************************************************
   copy "C:\Users\John Doe\Documents\Quicken\Data\IN USE BY JOHN DOE.lock"
            "C:\Users\John Doe\DROPBOX\Documents\Quicken\Data\"
  
   rem ***********************************************************************************
   rem ***  Move the Quicken data file from Dropbox to the local hard drive
   rem ***********************************************************************************
   move "C:\Users\John Doe\DROPBOX\Documents\Quicken\Data\MyDataFile.qdf"
             "C:\Users\John Doe\Documents\Quicken\Data\"
   
   rem ***********************************************************************************
   rem ***  Launch Quicken
   rem ***********************************************************************************
   call "C:\Program Files (x86)\Quicken\qw.exe"
  
   rem ***********************************************************************************
   rem ***  Move the Quicken data file from the local hard drive back to Dropbox
   rem ***********************************************************************************
   move "C:\Users\John Doe\Documents\Quicken\Data\MyDataFile.qdf"
             "C:\Users\John Doe\DROPBOX\Documents\Quicken\Data\"
  
   rem ***********************************************************************************
   rem ***  Remove the "place holder" file in Dropbox
   rem ***********************************************************************************
   delete "C:\Users\John Doe\DROPBOX\Documents\Quicken\Data\IN USE BY JOHN DOE.lock"


More error-checking would be needed to "productize" this functionality, but it could be implemented in a few weeks rather than many months.

(The a "place-holder" file would be used to construct a more informative message than simply "File not found", e.g. "The Quicken data file is IN USE BY JOHN DOE")

I hope someone from Quicken Inc. sees this suggestion, and seriously considers it.
The lack of Dropbox support has been a strong negative "feature" of Quicken for many years.

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  • UKRUKR SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 2018

    Why use a complicated script to move files around, when you can have your data file in one permanent place and your Quicken-created backups going to Dropbox instead?


    Using Carbonite, OneDrive, Dropbox, etc. as the Backup
    process

    (For this
    discussion, Carbonite is assumed to be the backup product in effect. Replace
    "Carbonite" with the name of your backup tool.
    It is also assumed that your Quicken data file is stored permanently in the recommended location,
    C:\Users\_your_username_here_\Documents\Quicken)

    IMHO, you should
    keep Carbonite (or any other third party backup product which you use) away
    from your live Quicken data file. It may interfere with some Quicken
    operations, especially Manual Backup.

    Instead, configure
    Carbonite to backup either of these files:

    - The backup file created by Quicken Automatic Backup

    Or

    - The backup file created by Quicken Manual Backup as you close Quicken.

    Backup settings in
    Quicken are stored in Edit / Preferences / Backup.

    If you choose the
    Automatic Backup file as Carbonite candidate (or even if you don't), activate
    this process and set it to execute every "1" times Quicken closes.
    The Automatic Backup file always goes to a \Backup folder that's part of the
    folder which contains your current Quicken data file, usually
    \Documents\Quicken\Backup

    If you choose the
    Manual Backup file as Carbonite candidate, create a separate


    \Quicken\Carbonite_Backup folder and direct the Manual Backups to go there
    every "1" times Quicken closes. Select the "Add date stamp to
    file name option" so you get multiple backups and not just one that is
    overwritten every time.

    For a belts and
    suspenders approach:

    Automatic Backups go
    to Carbonite, Manual Backups go to a USB stick or external hard drive.

    One can never have
    enough backups of your Quicken data file. BTDTGTS!

     

    Note: It's been
    brought to my attention that some versions of Quicken may not start the backup
    process upon close if you close Quicken by any command other than clicking the
    (used to be red) "X" in the upper right hand corner of the Quicken window.


  • Bob DossBob Doss Member
    edited January 21
    The requirement has NOTHING to do with backup files, backup software or a backup strategy. That's an entirely separate issue.

    PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING CAREFULLY to understand the requirement.

    Forget about backup files - for the moment, let's talk ONLY about the Quicken data file. As you suggest, I want to keep my data file in ONE permanent place. HOWEVER I want to access it from two or more geographic locations (at different times).

    As I said in my example, I want my wife to update Quicken from home while I'm traveling, and be able to look at what she did from my hotel room. THIS IS THE FUNDAMENTAL REQUIREMENT.

    The problem would be solved if Dropbox could be the "permanent place" for my Quicken data file. My wife could open Quicken at home, make changes, and close it - without ever moving the data file from Dropbox. AFTER she closes it, I could open the data file on Dropbox, look at it, and close it - without ever moving the data file from Dropbox.

    That's the perfect solution, HOWEVER Quicken does not support it yet, and there is a significant risk of data file corruption by the Dropbox file sync mechanism.

    To prevent possible corruption by Dropbox, my workaround REMOVES the data file from Dropbox before opening it, so Dropbox cannot try to sync it while it's open. The workaround does not give the data file back to Dropbox until it's closed again. At that point, Dropbox can can safely sync the closed data file back to the cloud for storage, until someone needs to use it again.

    With this workaround, both Dropbox and Quicken are working as designed and supported.



    Now, remember those backup flies I told you to ignore? They can be stored locally and/or on Dropbox - it doesn't matter, because Quicken supports that, and there is no risk of corruption. The backup file is only open long enough for Quicken to create it, and then remains closed (unless/until used for a restore).

    The backup file can be stored locally without involving Dropbox, OR Dropbox can safely sync the closed backup file to the cloud.



    It's NOT an easy task for Quicken Inc. to support using the Quicken data file DIRECTLY from Dropbox, because it would require a detailed understanding of the internal operation of the Dropbox file sync mechanism. I hope they will make the investment someday, but unless/until they do, I hope they will consider incorporating my workaround concept in the Quicken product.

    The operation could be entirely invisible to the user, except for one-time settings to specify "Use Dropbox" and specify a location on Dropbox to store the Quicken data file between uses. Optionally, a location could be specified on Dropbox to store backup files.

    If Quicken Inc. wants to explore this further (I hope they will), I would be happy to discuss it with technical people (although it should be clear from this write-up to an experienced developer)

  • NotACPANotACPA SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 2018
    Bob Doss said:

    The requirement has NOTHING to do with backup files, backup software or a backup strategy. That's an entirely separate issue.

    PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING CAREFULLY to understand the requirement.

    Forget about backup files - for the moment, let's talk ONLY about the Quicken data file. As you suggest, I want to keep my data file in ONE permanent place. HOWEVER I want to access it from two or more geographic locations (at different times).

    As I said in my example, I want my wife to update Quicken from home while I'm traveling, and be able to look at what she did from my hotel room. THIS IS THE FUNDAMENTAL REQUIREMENT.

    The problem would be solved if Dropbox could be the "permanent place" for my Quicken data file. My wife could open Quicken at home, make changes, and close it - without ever moving the data file from Dropbox. AFTER she closes it, I could open the data file on Dropbox, look at it, and close it - without ever moving the data file from Dropbox.

    That's the perfect solution, HOWEVER Quicken does not support it yet, and there is a significant risk of data file corruption by the Dropbox file sync mechanism.

    To prevent possible corruption by Dropbox, my workaround REMOVES the data file from Dropbox before opening it, so Dropbox cannot try to sync it while it's open. The workaround does not give the data file back to Dropbox until it's closed again. At that point, Dropbox can can safely sync the closed data file back to the cloud for storage, until someone needs to use it again.

    With this workaround, both Dropbox and Quicken are working as designed and supported.



    Now, remember those backup flies I told you to ignore? They can be stored locally and/or on Dropbox - it doesn't matter, because Quicken supports that, and there is no risk of corruption. The backup file is only open long enough for Quicken to create it, and then remains closed (unless/until used for a restore).

    The backup file can be stored locally without involving Dropbox, OR Dropbox can safely sync the closed backup file to the cloud.



    It's NOT an easy task for Quicken Inc. to support using the Quicken data file DIRECTLY from Dropbox, because it would require a detailed understanding of the internal operation of the Dropbox file sync mechanism. I hope they will make the investment someday, but unless/until they do, I hope they will consider incorporating my workaround concept in the Quicken product.

    The operation could be entirely invisible to the user, except for one-time settings to specify "Use Dropbox" and specify a location on Dropbox to store the Quicken data file between uses. Optionally, a location could be specified on Dropbox to store backup files.

    If Quicken Inc. wants to explore this further (I hope they will), I would be happy to discuss it with technical people (although it should be clear from this write-up to an experienced developer)

    The requirement has NOTHING to do with backup files
    Bob, you're the one who doesn't understand.  That file on DropBox IS a backup.  Your "working" file is the one on your hard drive.

    When Q creates a backup, it's merely a copy of the working file.  All that you're doing is manually creating a backup, via your own process.

    Yes, your process allows you to restore that backup to another computer ... but you could do the exact same thing with a USB drive ... which I did frequently when I was traveling for business, moving the working file between my desktop and my laptop.
    Q user since DOS version 5
    Now running Quicken Windows Subscription,  Home & Business
    Retired "Certified Information Systems Auditor" & Bank Audit VP
  • Bob DossBob Doss Member
    edited July 2018
    Bob Doss said:

    The requirement has NOTHING to do with backup files, backup software or a backup strategy. That's an entirely separate issue.

    PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING CAREFULLY to understand the requirement.

    Forget about backup files - for the moment, let's talk ONLY about the Quicken data file. As you suggest, I want to keep my data file in ONE permanent place. HOWEVER I want to access it from two or more geographic locations (at different times).

    As I said in my example, I want my wife to update Quicken from home while I'm traveling, and be able to look at what she did from my hotel room. THIS IS THE FUNDAMENTAL REQUIREMENT.

    The problem would be solved if Dropbox could be the "permanent place" for my Quicken data file. My wife could open Quicken at home, make changes, and close it - without ever moving the data file from Dropbox. AFTER she closes it, I could open the data file on Dropbox, look at it, and close it - without ever moving the data file from Dropbox.

    That's the perfect solution, HOWEVER Quicken does not support it yet, and there is a significant risk of data file corruption by the Dropbox file sync mechanism.

    To prevent possible corruption by Dropbox, my workaround REMOVES the data file from Dropbox before opening it, so Dropbox cannot try to sync it while it's open. The workaround does not give the data file back to Dropbox until it's closed again. At that point, Dropbox can can safely sync the closed data file back to the cloud for storage, until someone needs to use it again.

    With this workaround, both Dropbox and Quicken are working as designed and supported.



    Now, remember those backup flies I told you to ignore? They can be stored locally and/or on Dropbox - it doesn't matter, because Quicken supports that, and there is no risk of corruption. The backup file is only open long enough for Quicken to create it, and then remains closed (unless/until used for a restore).

    The backup file can be stored locally without involving Dropbox, OR Dropbox can safely sync the closed backup file to the cloud.



    It's NOT an easy task for Quicken Inc. to support using the Quicken data file DIRECTLY from Dropbox, because it would require a detailed understanding of the internal operation of the Dropbox file sync mechanism. I hope they will make the investment someday, but unless/until they do, I hope they will consider incorporating my workaround concept in the Quicken product.

    The operation could be entirely invisible to the user, except for one-time settings to specify "Use Dropbox" and specify a location on Dropbox to store the Quicken data file between uses. Optionally, a location could be specified on Dropbox to store backup files.

    If Quicken Inc. wants to explore this further (I hope they will), I would be happy to discuss it with technical people (although it should be clear from this write-up to an experienced developer)

    ok
  • Ward WillatsWard Willats Member
    edited January 21
    Bob Doss said:

    The requirement has NOTHING to do with backup files, backup software or a backup strategy. That's an entirely separate issue.

    PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING CAREFULLY to understand the requirement.

    Forget about backup files - for the moment, let's talk ONLY about the Quicken data file. As you suggest, I want to keep my data file in ONE permanent place. HOWEVER I want to access it from two or more geographic locations (at different times).

    As I said in my example, I want my wife to update Quicken from home while I'm traveling, and be able to look at what she did from my hotel room. THIS IS THE FUNDAMENTAL REQUIREMENT.

    The problem would be solved if Dropbox could be the "permanent place" for my Quicken data file. My wife could open Quicken at home, make changes, and close it - without ever moving the data file from Dropbox. AFTER she closes it, I could open the data file on Dropbox, look at it, and close it - without ever moving the data file from Dropbox.

    That's the perfect solution, HOWEVER Quicken does not support it yet, and there is a significant risk of data file corruption by the Dropbox file sync mechanism.

    To prevent possible corruption by Dropbox, my workaround REMOVES the data file from Dropbox before opening it, so Dropbox cannot try to sync it while it's open. The workaround does not give the data file back to Dropbox until it's closed again. At that point, Dropbox can can safely sync the closed data file back to the cloud for storage, until someone needs to use it again.

    With this workaround, both Dropbox and Quicken are working as designed and supported.



    Now, remember those backup flies I told you to ignore? They can be stored locally and/or on Dropbox - it doesn't matter, because Quicken supports that, and there is no risk of corruption. The backup file is only open long enough for Quicken to create it, and then remains closed (unless/until used for a restore).

    The backup file can be stored locally without involving Dropbox, OR Dropbox can safely sync the closed backup file to the cloud.



    It's NOT an easy task for Quicken Inc. to support using the Quicken data file DIRECTLY from Dropbox, because it would require a detailed understanding of the internal operation of the Dropbox file sync mechanism. I hope they will make the investment someday, but unless/until they do, I hope they will consider incorporating my workaround concept in the Quicken product.

    The operation could be entirely invisible to the user, except for one-time settings to specify "Use Dropbox" and specify a location on Dropbox to store the Quicken data file between uses. Optionally, a location could be specified on Dropbox to store backup files.

    If Quicken Inc. wants to explore this further (I hope they will), I would be happy to discuss it with technical people (although it should be clear from this write-up to an experienced developer)

    No, Bob is correct, and I'm going to use a variation of his script to do the same thing. It is not enough to backup the working file to dropbox, its use must be coordinated among multiple clients, which his lock file machinery does. Sneaker-net is a clumsy approach. Thanks Bob.
  • smayer97smayer97 SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 22
    Though I see the intention of this effort, the more I think about it the more I see the current algorithm is fraught with issues to deal with.

    For starters, the LOCK file is local only. So any user on a different computer would not have visibility to it, only the file on DropBox. 

    It also lacks logic to actually test for the LOCK file, so that would need to be added in to present a user with a warning that the file is in use, that is copied and used elsewhere. BUT currently this could only be tested locally.

    The way it is set up, all the user might get is a failed message when trying to open the data file. If you modified it to actually move the file that is located on DropBox, the other issue is that by doing so, you potentially lose a backup of the file, even if temporarily.

    There are other issues such as having Command.com stay persistent to the end until Quicken is quit, in error handling if there is a crash, etc.

    So the current set-up is not a solid guarantee to prevent multiple copies from being opened and overwriting each other in all conditions. In fact, there are MANY holes to be addressed.

    Caution is advised.

    If you find this reply helpful, please be sure to click "Like", so others will know, thanks.

    (Canadian  user since '92, STILL using QM2007)

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  • Bob DossBob Doss Member
    edited January 22

    Though I see the intention of this effort, the more I think about it the more I see the current algorithm is fraught with issues to deal with.

    For starters, the LOCK file is local only. So any user on a different computer would not have visibility to it, only the file on DropBox. 

    It also lacks logic to actually test for the LOCK file, so that would need to be added in to present a user with a warning that the file is in use, that is copied and used elsewhere. BUT currently this could only be tested locally.

    The way it is set up, all the user might get is a failed message when trying to open the data file. If you modified it to actually move the file that is located on DropBox, the other issue is that by doing so, you potentially lose a backup of the file, even if temporarily.

    There are other issues such as having Command.com stay persistent to the end until Quicken is quit, in error handling if there is a crash, etc.

    So the current set-up is not a solid guarantee to prevent multiple copies from being opened and overwriting each other in all conditions. In fact, there are MANY holes to be addressed.

    Caution is advised.

    I completely agree.


    This was only a "proof-of- concept", in the hope that Quicken would recognize that there is at least one relatively simple way to do what so many of us want.


    They have the resources to add this concept to their product and add the necessary protections.


    There are, of course, better ways to do it. This just illustrates the "Use Case" of a single user accessing the data file at different times from different devices in different locations. And it shows that at least this one way would not be all that difficult to implement.


    I believe this single-user Use Case is wanted by many Quicken users. I think Quicken is unwilling to implement it because they don't understand the requirement, and believe it to be more difficult than it has to be.
  • Bob - you are absolutely correct, and I'm disappointed in those who misinterpret this as a backup issue.

    I'm currently writing my own script to allow this - and exactly!: for me and my wife, vs. trading a usb stick back and forth (which doesn't work well while traveling).

    Given the dropbox "integration" (for backup files), it seems like your suggestion would be a slam dunk, instead, we all get to implement it (inadequately) on our own.
  • Peter IsaksonPeter Isakson Member ✭✭
    This is not a bad idea, but I don't imagine Q Inc.will add it anytime soon. Especially if they want to support the various different cloud storage products that are similar to Dropbox, such as OneDrive, GoogleDrive, etc.

    I have been doing this (to allow me to take my laptop and use it after I work on the desktop - same person using, but essentially the same reqt as Bob's). I had been backing up to a Dropbox folder every time I exited. Then if I switched to the "other" computer (say, took the laptop on the road) I would ensure I restored from the backup copy after it synced to the laptop. This worked fine, with the caveat I had to remember to do the restore the first time I started to use the other computer. Until - Q Inc. changed the restore logic, perhaps a few months ago, to wipe out the cloud synced file, forcing a complete and very time consuming resync every time you restored.

    In another post, someone pointed out that the backup file is actually just a copy of the working file, and you can copy it back to overwrite the working file and then just opne it. So now I back up on every exit, but if I need to restore (usually when swapping to the other PC) I run a .bat file from a desktop shortcut that merely copies the file from the Dropbox directory to the Q local working directory, renaming it to have the proper name and extension.

    It is not "foolproof" as what Bob wanted, but given I doubt Q Inc. will apply resources to properly solve the network based locking issues, it has helped me. In Bob's use case, he and his wife would have to coordinate to make sure they did not "step over" each other.
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