Unofficial FAQ (pt 2) for October, 2003; please consult before posting


D

Dick Watson

(msnews.micorosft.com is now enforcing a posting size limit. Perhaps the
current Swen situation is to blame? At any rate, I will try this is two
parts. Posting of this to the NG may just prove too hard in the future. That
would be sad.)


Q5): I think my file has been corrupted. How do I tell? What do I do then?

A5): "Corruption" of user data files is a popular topic of the newsgroup.
Sooner or later, it seems, every Money user will experience this. But there
has been lots of confusion over what is and isn't corruption, and there have
been attempts to blame non-specific "corruption" for lots of things that
probably aren't "corruption" induced. Many problems blamed on corruption are
not corruption related at all and some that are may not be able to be solved
with the available file repair procedures and will require different
techniques to fix if they are even fixable. For the readers who haven't
experienced corruption yet and are getting bored and are about to skip the
rest of this answer, remember this one thing: the one sure way out of these
problems is having backups that really are and that have, in turn, their own
backups. Further, if you are still reading, remember that a corrupt file can
generate a corrupt backup--so be sure and have multiple generations of
backups available.

In general, "corruption" refers to problems in the logical integrity of the
data file. Corruption does not mean the operating system reports data errors
reading your file. Though that is a form of corruption, it's not what we are
talking about here. The corruption we are talking about are cases where the
data in your file is read and written acceptably by the operating system but
doesn't make sense or isn't consistent to Money itself. In general, a Money
file that a) produces unexpected results or improper behavior of the
application, b) cannot be reproduced with a new Money file or the sample
file, and c) can be reproduced on different systems using the same Money
file, is likely corrupted.

With this in mind, your troubleshooting process should follow something like
this when you are facing possible file corruption.

1. Create a new file or open the Sample Money file.
2. Try to reproduce the issue.
3. If you can reproduce the issue, the problem is most likely not
corruption. It could be your Money installation, IE installation, or an
OS/system problem. So start with the easiest of these: Remove and re-install
the Money application to a new folder. Next, repair/remove/reinstall
Internet Explorer. (This will not be so easy on many of the newer operating
systems--and it's generally less likely to be an issue on the newer ones.)
Always test after every step.
4. If at all possible, test your Money file on a different system with the
same version and localization of Money installed.
5. If you cannot reproduce the issue in a new file, and especially if the
problem moved with your data file to a different system, you may be looking
at a corruption issue. Here are some indications and errors that suggest
possible corruption problems:

"Money cannot create a temporary file in C:\Windows\Temp"

"Money cannot locate '<file path and name>' or cannot open it, possibly
because it is a read-only file. You can change the read-only attribute in
the Windows Explorer. If you have chosen the correct file and it cannot be
accessed, you will need to open your most recent backup file."

"<Path>/<file name> is corrupted or is not a Money data file. Make sure you
are opening a file with an .MNY extension. If you have chosen the correct
file and it could not be accessed, you will need to open your most recent
backup file to access your data."

If you attempt to convert a Money data file from an earlier version, and you
receive the following error message:
"There has been an error reading or writing to the disk."

If you attempt to create a new file, you receive several error messages,
beginning with the following error message:
"The new file '<Path>/<file name>' cannot be created. Please make sure that
the new file name does not contain any of the following characters:
\/:*?"<>|. Also, make sure the new file is being created on a disk that is
not write-protected and has sufficient room to store the new file." (This
one is normally not file corruption, though.)

When you click OK, you may receive the following message:
"Not enough memory is available. If you have several applications open at
the same time, you might need to close one of them before starting Money."
(This also is normally not corruption.)

When trying to enter or delete a transaction or go into a particular area of
Money, you receive the error (quite common--these are the "trinity" of
corruption indicators):
"This operation cannot be performed."
"This transaction cannot be entered."
"This transaction cannot be deleted."

Checks are available to print but there are no "Print checks" prompts. This
is common enough that it has its own FAQ and an MSKB reference to boot. See
the question "I see checks to be printed. Money says there aren't any. What
gives?"

Very whacko balances (the trillion dollar balance syndrome).

Balances disagree from one place to another in the app. These are frequently
pilot error and there was a bug that produced this, depending on
reconciled/unreconciled register view, back in M01, which was fixed with a
patch. But some of these cases have turned out to be corruption.

Cash flow fails to display in M02. This one also has its own FAQ entry. See
"How come my cash flow forecast refuses to display?"

Other indications of corruption have included sudden radical degradation in
performance, transactions that refuse to be edited or marked as
reconciled/cleared (usually you'll get the "operation cannot be performed"
message), and application crashes at repeatable places and/or when doing
repeatable things with the data. Reports that refuse to display and/or crash
the application can be caused by corruption or can be caused by problems
with, say, printer or video drivers. Problems with reports should be
isolated by recreating your favorite report from the basic report and/or
playing around with the customization settings to see if there are some data
sets that work and others that cause the problem.

Finally, there are many things that are not corruption but are occasionally
blamed on corruption. Some examples follow. Reports that don't show what you
want may very well be customized incorrectly. Register views that are not in
the order you want may be sorted by something you don't recognize. When
Money is generally slow, it is likely just Money being generally slow. When
Budget Planner produces results you don't understand, it's likely just
Budget Planner's way of reminding us that some future version of Money will
be able to claim improved budgeting among its features. Problems importing
statements or with the statement data itself are in all likelihood problems
with the data the bank provided. If you have any doubts about what is
normal--if undesirable--behavior and what may be "corruption," the newsgroup
is probably a better place to start than the repair tools.

So, if you are to the point where you've determined that your file is likely
corrupted and are ready to journey down the road of file repair, here are
your options and some recommendations for how to go about the process,
sorted by order of complexity and potential loss of data:

- There are two file repair tools provided by Microsoft for Money.
- Sometimes you can unwind what you were doing back to when you first saw
the problem and identify an associated transaction or scheduled bill that
created the problem and exhibits the signs of corruption. From here you can
proceed to:
- Binary search identification and elimination
- Revert to a backup
- Export/Import (the "start almost over" method)

Details on the repair tools:

File Salvage (the "msmoney -s" startup parameter): This repair utility
checks the data integrity to make sure the data is self-consistent. It does
not check that the data is correct; it only checks that the validation rules
that are supposed to be applied on data entry are indeed being applied.

Super Salvage (salv.exe): This repair will work with any version of Money
but will NOT work on backup files. It does low level checking for file
integrity. It checks the format and stability of the file itself. It does NO
data checking. Salv provides 2 different levels of checking; each just goes
deeper in its checking than the previous. (Some older versions supported
three levels of checking but level 3 has been removed, apparently because it
caused more harm than good for many users.)

Guidelines for use of the repair tools:

msmoney -s

When running Money 99 and above, always run File Salvage first. This usually
works if you go to Start, Run and type "msmoney -s" without quotes. Be sure
that the data file opens displaying the message "Repairing file.working" or
the repair is not being performed. For more information on running this
utility, see item # 182608 in the MSKB.

salv.exe

This tool works on versions 98 and later. Although it is available on the
Money CDs in the PSS folder in versions 2001 and later, you can download it
(and should to be sure that you are running the latest and greatest version
of the utility). See item # 274584 in the MSKB to download the current
version and get more information.

General information on file repair tool processes:

A good course of action to use when encountering a file corruption issue and
attempting repair with these tools is to:
0. Make copies of your file before you start mucking around. If any of this
makes your situation worse, you can always start over on one of the copies.
This is general good practice when things get sporty with any data file.
Work on the copies. If you solve your problem in a copy, delete the original
and rename the copy.
1. Stop the background Money tools so that they are not accessing your file.
These tools are Background Banking, MoneySide and MoneyExpress.
2. Run the file salvage (-s)
3. Check the file to verify that the issue is still present
4. Run a Level 1 of salv.exe
5. Check the new, salvaged file
6. Run a Level 2 of salv.exe on the new file from step 3
7. Check the new, salvaged file
8. If the salv.exe is unsuccessful at any point, run the file salvage (-s)
again on the last new successfully salvaged file from steps 3, 5, or 7
9. Archive the file to remove old transactions or archive without removing
transactions.

If using versions of Money prior to 99, press CTRL + ALT + DEL and select
Task Manager (NT, Win2K, WinXP) or bring up the Close Program box directly
(WinMe and prior versions of "dirty Windows"). Highlight Microsoft Money and
click End Task to terminate the application and close your data file. When
you reopen the file, Money should tell you that the file was not closed
properly and that it needs to be repaired.

Details on binary search identification and elimination:

Frequently, you can localize a problem because it only shows up on a
specific transaction, or a specific report or similar. Since many corruption
problems seem to be focused on a specific transaction or bill or similar,
narrowing your problem down to the specific item causing the problem can
make it possible to fix your problem without resorting to the repair
tools--or if they fail--or the more destructive methods.

There is no fixed procedure here. The general method is to try binary
methods to narrow down the focus of the problem and then delete, edit, or
otherwise eliminate the problem item and then you can re-create it.

For example, a problem report may work if you customize it to report either
the first half of the date range or the last. The half that doesn't work can
again be divided in halves, repetitively, until you narrow your problem down
to, say, one day's worth of transactions. For bills, you can delete (but
please read and heed step 0 under the repair tools for guidance to work in
copies of your data file) bills until the problem goes away.

For more general problems that may be located somewhere in your account
registers, the basic approach (this is NOT a procedure) is to make a copy of
your data file, and, in the copy, progressively delete things (accounts,
scheduled items, whatever) until happiness is restored. When you delete the
nth account (or whatever) and the operation in question starts working, go
back to the original file, make another copy, go into the copy, and repeat
just that last deletion. If the problem operation still presents itself, go
into yet another copy and try further narrowing. If, say, deleting one
account restores happiness then go at transactions in the account--delete,
say, one month's worth at a time or one half or the other. (The reason the
latter approach is called binary search is that when you get to the point
where there are lots of cases--like transactions to delete--it is frequently
faster to delete half at once and then, assuming your problem went away, you
delete half of the same half in the next copy of the original. This kind of
search will rapidly narrow down to a specific transaction-for example,
10,000 transactions reduce to 1 in 14 tries.) Of course, there are cases
where two or more problem transactions (or accounts or bills or whatever)
are in play--this makes it harder, but the same general principles apply.

(One slight digression into Money technique is in order here: if you have to
delete transactions in an investment account you will frequently find
yourself in the situation where Money says you can't delete a buy because it
will cause a negative share balance. Add an Add Share transaction, older
than any other transaction in the account in question, for some outrageously
large number of shares in the investment in question. You can delete it
later.)

When you narrow it down to a specific focus, you go back to the original
data file and try to figure out what to do about it. Can the transaction be
edited? Deleted and replaced? Change the payee, amount, split, account, etc?
Can it be moved to a temporary account and then delete the temporary
account?

This can be very tedious but frequently can narrow down a problem to one
transaction or entry. Sometimes this one problem item cannot be deleted by
itself. Then you end up doing things like creating a temporary account,
moving every transaction but the problem one, deleting the problem
transaction account, renaming, etc., the temporary account to the old
account's name, and then re-enter the now missing problem transaction.

Details on restoring a backup:

If none of this has worked, hopefully you have a recent backup. (After this
experience you probably will the next time it happens.) Be sure and restore
your data file to a different name or location so as to preserve your
original file--if there are problems with your backup you may end up back
there. It is possible that you "backed up" this problem. In these cases, you
may restore it as well. Hopefully you have kept multiple versions of backup.

Details on export/import:

If all of this has failed you, the only choice left, and it is generally
quite a poor choice, is to try to preserve as much data as you can using QIF
export and then to start over in a new data file, restoring the exported
data. MSKB article # 1778830 addresses this approach.

Unless you have 5 or more accounts, you should work really hard to resolve
the issue without getting to export/import. This should be your last resort
and should only be your resort if you have exhausted every possibility that
the problem is not really corruption, not only because of the amount of
effort involved in the export/import process, but also because if the
problem is not corruption and you go through the whole process, it'll be
extremely frustrating to find out that the issue is still there.
Export/import also only brings over the information in transactions. This
means that your bills, budget, planner, etc., are gone and must be
recreated. Loan accounts cannot be exported either. The good news on this is

that, if your corruption was in one of these areas, it is left behind once
you are in the new file.

If you only have a couple of accounts, by all means go the export/import
route rather than spending hours trying to dink around with repair (unless,
of course, you have a lot of data in the bills/budget/planner).

Now that we've discussed corruption to excess, some other information is in
order.

What causes corruption? Certainly none of us in the "outside world" are sure
what causes corruption. But it tends to happen at rates and in places that
tend to suggest that it's not because of cosmic rays. And it happens to
people who do not kill Money from task manager every time they see the
hourglass and 100% CPU. My suggestion/suspicion is that there truly are
lurking defects in the Money code that get hit under the right circumstances
and leave the database in these unstable states. Even the MSKB item for the
"damaged scheduled item" in M02 makes it sound like demonic possession or
some other force beyond the developer's control--but of course they fixed
that one in M03, so there must have been a real root cause in the code. I
wish I felt that these cases were a priority for identification and
elimination and did not feel as though Microsoft considers the -s and salv
and the QIF export/import cycle as all they need to do--or maybe even more
than we deserve--on these issues.

For some other users, corruption happens in places none of the rest of us
has ever seen problems and it happens repeatedly. In these cases, an
environmental root cause seems much more likely than a problem that has a
defect in Money as root cause. Or there may be some user habit that Money
just doesn't like. For instance, some users apparently panic every time they
see the hourglass for more than a second or two or see 100% CPU usage by
Money, like that's a bad thing by definition, and terminate the application.
These cases are much harder for the newsgroup to help with. The
environmental causes are even less well understood. The causes likely
include DLL conflicts, driver problems, video settings, BIOS
settings/problems, IE installation problems, and so forth. Finding these
types of problems can certainly be very difficult, but if you are having
recurring corruption problems you should pursue these issues rather than
just depending on the repair tools to save your data. They may not always be
able to do so.

Is Money unusually prone to corrupting its own data files? (Compared to
what?) Maybe. Who knows? Are later versions more prone to corrupting their
own data files than earlier versions? Generally, versions from M98 forward
seem worse than prior versions and versions since M98 seem to be improving,
based solely on postings in the newsgroup. But then each version also seems
to introduce a new problem like the "damaged scheduled items" in M02. Money
may well be unusually prone to environmental problems. It is a poster child
for bleeding edge Microsoft development techniques like COM, DHTML, XML, and
so on. Remember also that the workhorse tools in the whole house of cards
are not even developed by the Money group: MSISAM and IE. Money just bolts
some business logic and a UI on top of all of this. For this reason, it is
likely very exposed to all of the issues with object contamination by other
applications and DLL conflicts and so on. Even flushing Internet temporary
items from the IE cache has made strange Money problems disappear. Go
figure. It is amazing that after all these years, Money still detects these
problems (that's where messages like "operation cannot be performed" are
coming from) but does nothing to resolve them. You'd think that the Money
designers would have figured out how to put code at the places where these
messages are generated to do something more helpful than just tell us what
Money cannot do, leaving us to figure out what it all means and what to do
about it.

What should a user do about corruption problems going forward? Well,
recommendation #1 would be to make sure you have a backup strategy that
assures you have multiple generations of backup, are not depending on any
one type of backup media, and that your backups really are. Restoring from
your last weekly backup and re-entering three or four days of transactions
is probably easier than most any technique for repair described here.

Finally, some users who have been here, done this, decide to start regularly
using the repair tools as a prophylactic against future file corruption.
There is no evidence that this is an effective strategy. Worse, there is
significant anecdotal evidence that the repair tools can emit meaningless
messages about problems in your data file when there are absolutely no other
indications of any problem. Given how little we know about these tools and
how little is documented and how little we know about what they are designed
to do/fix and how rigorously they are tested and so on (why I refer to them
as voodoo tools), this fixation may be misplaced. Some people have reported
more problems after using these tools than before. There is no reason to
believe these tools are tested anywhere near as rigorously as the
application is. Using them "just in case" seems like a profoundly bad idea.

Thanks to Bonnie Synhorst for contributing the bulk of the answer here and
the inspiration for getting it in the FAQ. The good parts are hers--the bad
parts I probably edited in. The first person opinions are definitely mine.

References:
MSKB: 182608 How to resolve file inconsistencies
<http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;182608>
MSKB: 274584 How to Use the Money Super Salvage Utility
<http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;274584>
MSKB: 178830 Export/Import "repair" and conversion
<http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;178830>


Q6): Money appears to hang when I enter transactions. Why?

A6): Many reports of "hanging" on entry have turned out to be reports of
poor performance. Money may spend minutes doing whatever it does after
entering a transaction. If you have waited a LONG time--this may be five
minutes or more depending on your environment--and Money is not doing
anything and is not using CPU (this is easy to tell on WinNT, 2000, and on
XP) then you have a different problem. See "Why is Money so slow?" for more
information on performance problems.


Q7): Money says "This operation cannot be completed." What's up with that?

A7): Money may also say "This operation cannot be performed." These messages
are most likely related to internal database problems and/or problems
related to specific scheduled transactions. For the former, your best bet is
to pursue the Money data file repair tools msmoney -s or salv.exe. (Also,
see the question "What is the -s option? What is the Super Salvage
utility?") Read more about these tools in the MSKB. Be sure you have backups
that really are before going down this path and/or work on a copy of your
file. In the latter case, try deleting and re-entering the scheduled
transaction.

Thanks to Derrick Cole for this answer.

See also "I think my file has been corrupted. How do I tell? What do I do
then?"

References:
MSKB: 182608 How to resolve file inconsistencies
<http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;182608>
MSKB: 274584 How to Use the Money Super Salvage Utility
<http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;274584>


Q8): Money says "This transaction cannot be entered." What's up with that?

A8): Try the steps outlined in the MSKB identified by Cal Learner--MVP.

See also "I think my file has been corrupted. How do I tell? What do I do
then?"

References:
MSKB: Q288385 Transaction cannot be entered
<http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;288385>


Q9): My scheduled bill (deposit, transfer, etc.) just morphed from a normal
split into a Paycheck. What's up with that?
[Relevant to Money2003 (v.11) and up]

A9): Who knows? This is a little present the Money developers left behind.
If you Cancel the first time you see this, it might be right the next time
you edit the series or a specified occurrence. If not, you will have no
choice but to delete the item and recreate it. Maybe this "feature" will be
"improved" in the next version?

Derived from an answer provided by Derrick Cole.


Q10): Why do I get a disk space error installing Money 2002? I have
gigabytes of free disk space.
[Relevant to Money2002 (v.10)]

A10): If you get a message like "Microsoft Money 2002 cannot be installed.
Please make sure you have 4,095Mb free on drive C: and try to install again"
when trying to install Money 2002, read the referenced MSKB--the error
message is misleading but there is a workaround.

Reference courtesy of Glyn Simpson, Microsoft MVP - Money

References:
MSKB: Q313999 diskspace errors on install of M02
<http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q313999>


Q11): Why do I get the "incompatible versions" message when upgrading my
data file?

A11): This problem arises from trying to convert a file from one localized
version (say Money UK) to another (say Money US.)

The workaround it to export accounts using QIF and re-import them. The fix
is to obtain a newer localized version for the same country as your original
data file.

Answer courtesy of Glyn Simpson, Microsoft MVP - Money, and Cal Learner

References:
MSKB: Q304254 incompatible versions
<http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q304254>
MSKB: Q197668 incompatible versions
<http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;q197668>
MSKB: 178830 Export/Import "repair" and conversion
<http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;178830>


Q12): Why is Money so slow?
[Relevant to Money2001 (v.9) and up]

A12): There have been a number of design changes in Money over the years and
many of them have had negative impacts on performance. M98 changed from a
purpose-built database and user interface to IE rendering the UI and Jet as
the underlying database. These changes freed the development team to add
features galore but they had negative impact on performance and file size.

Money 2001 and up have a number of features that run continuously and seem
to affect performance. Debt Reduction Planner and Budgeting seem to be
offenders. One way to improve performance in these versions is to turn off
the personalized register feedback. (This is at
Tools|Options|Feedback|Personalized Feedback Options|Do not display
personalized feedback.)

Poor performance in Money 2001 and up does not seem to affect everyone and,
in the worst cases, is clearly not a problem with resources. People have
tried any number of things:

1) salvaging the file; see the MSKB for details
2) deleting loan accounts (but then what's the point of using Money?)
3) [more work needed here]

There may be several components to this issue including slow performance as
a consequence of design choice (i.e., they didn't design it to be faster.)
There have been discussions that some of this issue is attributed to some
lurking bug.

The good news on this front is that M03 appears to be no slower in any case
than M02. Many users perceive it to be slightly faster in general and a lot
faster in certain areas like entering the Budget Planner. A few users report
perceiving it to be much faster overall. YMMV.

The FAQ used to say "it is not clear that Microsoft views this as a bug or
an issue or a problem worth fixing." They complained and said they "do take
performance problems very seriously [and] devote time and energy to
improving performance." It is unclear whether they take performance more or
less seriously than, say, adding features like Frequent Flier Mileage
tracking. Clearly performance is a much harder problem to solve; and the
results from the time and energy they spend on performance are here for us
all to judge.

References:
MSKB: 182608 How to resolve file inconsistencies
<http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;182608>
MSKB: 274584 How to Use the Money Super Salvage Utility
<http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;274584>


Iconography
-----------

Q1): What does the envelope with the lightning mean on a scheduled payment?

A1): It means the transaction is setup as an Epay.

LisaLisa (the Money marketing manager) got a page put up to decode many
Money icons. You might want to refer to it.

References:
LisaLisa's reference page for icons
<http://www.microsoft.com/money/productinfo/money_icons.htm>


Q2): What does the lightning bolt next to the account name mean?

A2): It means that Money knows something about doing electronic data
interchange with the financial institution you named for this account.


Q3): What is the "bleeding envelope" icon in the register?
[Relevant to Money2002 (v.10) and up]

A3): This icon indicates that Money thinks this transaction is a candidate
for being added as a recurring scheduled transaction. If you click (double
click?) on it, a dialog will pop-up allowing you to enter it as a recurring
scheduled transaction or you can tell Money to quit bugging you about it.

Check "potential recurring transactions" in Help.

Thanks to Cal Learner for the Help file topic reference.

It turns out the bleeding dagger is really a question mark. LisaLisa (the
Money marketing manager) got a page put up to decode many Money icons. You
might want to refer to it.

References:
LisaLisa's reference page for icons
<http://www.microsoft.com/money/productinfo/money_icons.htm>


Miscellaneous
-------------

Q1): I can't find where to download Money updates on the Microsoft web site.
Why not?

A1): Microsoft hasn't provided Money fixes on their web site for any version
of Money still supported. The updates that are available will be downloaded
when you do an "Internet Update." [What's in the updates, how do you tell if
you've got the most recent update, and similar questions all deserve answers
that we don't have.]


Q2): Is Money better than Quicken?

A2): Many of us here prefer Money to Quicken. Some of us started using Money
after having used Quicken. Your mileage may vary.


Q3): Is there/when will there be a Mac version of Microsoft Money?

A3): This is much less frequently asked than it used to be. It is not clear
what can be inferred from that.

Nobody here is aware of any Microsoft plans for Money for the Mac. If they
were, they couldn't say anyway.

Money has been on the Windows platform for more than ten years now. It seems
that Microsoft would have done Money for the Mac long ago if they thought
they could make a decent return by doing so. The barriers are pretty high
given Money's dependence on Microsoft core technologies like COM, IE, and
MSISAM, none of which exist in the same form or at all on the Mac. And it's
not as if Macs have become more popular or common over the years,
"switchers" like Ellen notwithstanding.


Q4): What's the difference between the various Money packages? Between M03
and previous versions? What's new in M03?

A4): The Microsoft Money web site has a page that compares the features
included in the various packages. There is another page that highlights what
has changed with each version of Money from M99 through M02. Finally, there
is one that summarizes what's new in M02. Check them out.

Answers courtesy Richard Bollar - MVP Microsoft Money and Kim Renna,
Microsoft MVP - CSO Consumer

References:
Microsoft Money Package Comparison
<http://www.microsoft.com/money/productinfo/compare.htm>
Microsoft Money Version Change History
<http://www.microsoft.com/money/productinfo/upgrchart.htm>
Microsoft Money What's new in M02
<http://www.microsoft.com/money/productinfo/whatsnew.htm>


Q5): When will the next version of Money release? What will it do?

A5): Anybody reading the newsgroup who knows has likely signed a
non-disclosure agreement and cannot say.

If the past is any guide to the future, the next version of Money will be
available starting in August. Microsoft's press release announcing the
product will use the word "great" a dozen or more times. It will have some
features that will be really cool to some people. It will have some features
that will be minor improvements to lots of people. It will fix some of the
worst issues created with the last version. It will create some new issues
of its own. It will have many minor changes that are annoying and
unnecessary to long time users, added in the name of "ease of use" but
mostly just serving to dumb the product down further. It will have more
hooks to other services that Microsoft hopes we will use and that Microsoft
hopes will produce ever more vigorish. It will incorporate any really neat
features Quicken incorporated last year if those features generated much
"buzz" amongst reviewers or by the Intuit marketeers. Quicken will release a
new version about the same time. Magazine reviewers will like each product
about equally. They will not mention any of the major issues since they will
not have used the product enough to find them. A rebate will be available to
all purchasers having the effect of reducing the average sell price to less
than some people will pay and more than others would have paid at the cost
of a hassle for those of us in the latter category. If the past is any guide
to the future, that is.


Conversion, Programmability, External interfaces
------------------------------------------------

Q1): Can Money import my Quicken data? How about my current version Quicken
data?

A1): Money has provided Quicken conversion tools in all recent versions of
Money. These converters have supported import of the "previous" version of
Quicken and older versions. Since Quicken changes their file format every
year and Microsoft and Intuit release about the same time each year,
Microsoft cannot provide a converter for the current version of Quicken in
the box with the current version of Money. They have generally released a
converter to get from the current version of Quicken to the current version
of Money in late spring, though M02 never had a converter for Q02. What they
will do in the future, nobody here can say. Check the Money web site.

It could be worse. Since Quicken has so much market share and Money so
little, the last time Quicken bothered offering a converter to import Money
data was in Q99 to convert M98 files. Previously, I was unaware that it had
ever happened, this correction is courtesy of Russ Paul-Jones.

References:
Money web site <http://www.microsoft.com/money/>


Q2): How do I access the Money API (OLE, XML, ODBC, object model, Jet
database, MSISAM database, etc)?

A2): Any external programmatic interfaces for Money are undocumented,
unsupported, and without any promise of retention in the future.

Certain ISVs (Ultrasoft and Kiplinger/H&R Block come to mind) have
implemented programmatic interfaces to Money, presumably with help from
Microsoft. Try contacting Microsoft directly. Let us know how this works.

Money does support OFC/OFX for interchange with financial institutions.
(E.g., statement download, EPAY.) If this is what you want to do, refer to
the Microsoft Partner, Microsoft Active Statements Interface, and Open
Financial Exchange links.

Thanks to Cal Learner for the OFC/OFX interface info.

References:
Open Financial Exchange <http://www.ofx.net/>
Microsoft Active Statements Interface
<http://www.microsoft.com/money/fi/implas/implas.htm>
Microsoft Money Partner <http://www.microsoft.com/money/partner/>


Q3): How do I export to Excel (or .TXT, .XML, .CSV)?

A3): There are several approaches to exporting data. None of them solve all
problems.

Money has always supported "export to QIF." QIF (Quicken Interchange Format)
is documented and an Excel Macro exist to write to this format. You could
extrapolate from this macro how to go the other way.

Money reports can be copied to the clipboard. They can then be pasted as
plain text into Excel cells.

Money 2002 added some enhanced capabilities in this regard with a direct
"Export to Microsoft Excel" that writes .CSV files. (Obviously, there is
nothing unique to Excel about .CSV files.) They can also be exported to a
tab-delimited .TXT file from the "Export..." r-click menu on the report.

Money 2003 added a choice to export reports as "Send to Desktop." This
writes .CSV, .TXT, and .XML files to you desktop with the report data.

Finally, there is the MoneyLink Excel add-in. This add-in provides a number
of queries (e.g., account transactions for specified account for specified
date range) that can retrieve data from your Money data file into Excel.
It's a one-way trip only. Money-version-specific versions of the add-in are
available for Money 98 through Money 2003.

The MoneyLink add-in was a download for Money 98. Then it was included on
the CD with Money 99 and Money 2000. With Money 2001, Microsoft thought
nobody would notice if they removed it. After a great upheaval on the
newsgroup and on the support lines, they relented and made MoneyLink
available on the web. Beginning with Money 2002, they have left it off the
CD. For Money 2002 and 2003, it is available, for free, from Ultrasoft. What
transfer of responsibility for this tool from Microsoft to Ultrasoft means
for its future, no one can say.

Thanks to Myrna Larson for the tab-delimited export method.

As of March 8, 2003, the links for the M98 and M02 download are broken. This
is probably a bad sign if you need these tools and don't already have them.

References:
Ultrasoft (MoneyLink) <http://www.ultrasoft.com>
Microsoft M01 MoneyLink download
<http://www.microsoft.com/money/excel/m2001/MoneyLink.exe>
Microsoft M98 MoneyLink download
<http://www.microsoft.com/money/excel/mnylnk.exe>


Q4): How do I import from Excel (or .CSV or etc.)?

A4): Money can only import QIF format data (or entire Quicken 2002 or
earlier files).

Once upon a time, Microsoft provided an Excel macro that wrote .QIF format
files from Excel. Unfortunately, that macro is an old XLM style macro and
that type of macro has not been supported by Excel for many versions now.
Microsoft has never seen fit to issue any new capability like this. As of
this writing, it appears that even the Knowledge Base article has been
disappeared.

Having said that, it is worth noting that QIF is just a text file with a
format that is not, apparently, all that complex. It should be reasonably
straightforward for someone used to mucking around in VBA for Excel to write
code to generate passable QIF files. The QIF file format is an ad hoc
standard semi-documented by Quicken. The references, all identified from a
search at google, may help you get there. There were many more references
that were not included here and these references may not be good currently.
If you create some code for this, please report back here and offer it up to
the community.

One reader, Didier Lachièze, has done just that. Several readers have
reported good results with Didier's macro. Didier has also developed a web
page that provides resource links to other similar tools.

Another reader, Ron Rosenfeld, reported on a shareware CSV to QIF converter
written by James Lavery of Monthtwo Systems. There has been no other
feedback on this tool.

(These things must be really popular lately.) There's another one written by
a guy named John. No user reports on it yet, either.

Chris Cowles reported yet another CSV to QIF converter--built to go with a
personal finance manager application for Palm, the web site for which
provides yet another spin on QIF documentation.

References:
MSKB: Q077220 Excel to .QIF macro
<http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q77220>
google.com <http://www.google.com/>
QIF documented <http://www.respmech.com/mym2qifw/qif_new.htm>
QIF documented maybe a little less well
<http://www.intuit.com/support/quicken/2002/win/1181.html>
QIF Apple-centric documentation, but maybe still valid
<http://www.malcolmadams.com/te/info/qif00.shtml>
QIF documented by the GnuCash folks
<http://www.gnucash.org/docs/C/xacc-qif-import.html#QIF>
Didier Lachièze's Excel to QIF macro <http://xl2qif.chez.tiscali.fr/>
Another attempt to document QIF
<http://www.ntlug.org/~cbbrowne/financeformats.html>
Monthtwo Systems' CSV to QIF shareware <http://www.monthtwosys.co.uk/>
CSV to QIF revisited <http://matirelire.conduite.free.fr/ToQIF.zip>
QIF documented yet again and app for Palm
<http://www.scoubidou.com/MaTirelire/index_en.html>
John's XL to QIF <http://www.bigredconsulting.com/AboutXLQIFConverter.htm>
Didier Lachièze's QIF conversion resource page
<http://xl2qif.chez.tiscali.fr/links_en.php>


Support Issues
--------------

Q1): How can I make my posts here more likely to get answers?

A1): Remember that everybody who replies here is doing so voluntarily.

1) Make your subject meaningful. "Money problem" isn't. "M02: how do I setup
my stock options?" is. Somebody who knows how to do the latter might read
your post and answer. Many of us won't even look at the former.

2) Don't whine. Oh, and DON'T SHOUT.

3) Provide sufficient environment information. As a minimum, this always
includes the version of Money. Many times this also includes the operating
system. If you are having problems printing, tell us the kind of printer.

4) Describe what you are trying to do, what is happening, and what you have
attempted to do about it.

5) Please use the same terminology for things that the help file and the
screens and the printed documentation uses. Some questions don't get
answered because none of us can figure out what you are talking about.

6) Please state your question. "I want to track savings bonds." is a poor
question. "Should I enter my savings bonds in Money or just track them in
Savings Bond Wizard?" is better. "When I entered my savings bonds the way
Money told me to, it seems there is no good way to track their value. Is
there a better way than making them CDs?" is likely to get some meaningful
responses. All too often people post things like "Subject: Money crashes.
When I installed Money it crashes." and expect help. This will get nowhere.
It's not even a question and it provides insufficient information about
environment and an insufficient description of the problem.

7) Don't expect miracles. The newsgroup is very good for "how-to" and usage
case information. It is less useful, generally, for non-pervasive
application crashes, installation problems, and so forth. If your
installation of Money v. 4 on your WindowsXP dual-Athlon system stopped
working after you installed the Mk. XVII VideoBlaster unless your modem is
disconnected and you are simultaneously running Laura Croft Chases World
Terrorism, you are unlikely to get help here. You likely have a unique
configuration and problem that nobody else in the world shares. The fact
that nobody here replies means nobody has a clue, not that nobody cares.

8) Don't post the same thing multiple times thinking it increases your
chances of getting a reply. It doesn't. Quite the opposite.

9) Finally, remember why you posted and remember that Money is what it is.
When you want to rant about how a feature works or doesn't work for you, we
can suggest workarounds or offer alternative ways to solve your problem, but
we can't change the product. Ranting at us about why the product should be
changed and ignoring our suggested workarounds and solutions won't encourage
people to try and help you in the future.


Q2): I've been using M95 on Win95 happily for years now. All of a sudden I
have a problem. Why can't anybody here help?

A2): Unfortunately, the world and most of us here have moved on. While we'd
like to help, many of us here haven't used this combination (or others that
may be slightly newer like M98 on Win98) literally for years.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that personal computer hardware and
software technology has advanced very rapidly, one in lockstep with the
other. While you may find your environment just fine for your needs it is
nonetheless as functionally obsolete as a DC-3 or a 1932 Packard.

The good news is that new Money licenses are very inexpensive--watch the
sales; $40 or less, before rebate, is very common in the Sunday ads--and new
versions import the data files from all old Money versions for the same
locale, generally with a minimum of complications. Of course, the new
version of Money probably won't work on your old hardware. Again there's a
bit of good news among the bad: many inexpensive new PCs include OEM Money
licenses.


Q3): Where else can I go for help?

A3): First, use the resources Microsoft provides with the product. On-line
help has always been provided with Money and the amount and richness of this
information has improved with every version of Money. Money 2002 comes with
audio and video help, the traditional help file, the on-line Money user's
guide, links to Microsoft resources on the web, the "Managing Your
Finances." book, and help for former Quicken users. Money 2003 omits the
book in favor of a book of ads. (Not many people read the old book. It's
hard to imagine the ads will be more effective at reaching Money users.)
Many of the "how-to" questions posed in the newsgroup are answered in
on-line help.

There is this newsgroup. The Microsoft news server has several months of
this group available. Repeatedly "get more headers" until you have all of
the messages and search from there. See "How can I make my posts here more
likely to get answers?" for advice about posting to the newsgroup. If
newsreaders make you uncomfortable or your proxy server blocks NNTP, there
is also a web interface to the newsgroup.

groups.google.com has years worth of posting from this news group and a very
sophisticated search capability. Select Advanced Groups Search and enter
"microsoft.public.money" in the newsgroup field.

There is a Yahoo! group on the subject, though it seems to have very little
traffic and it does post a public membership directory, which may put you
off.

The Microsoft Knowledge Base has lots of "how-to" answers and some--but by
no means all--of the bugs and issues Microsoft knows about.

Glyn Simpson also has one--it has some unique items tailored to the UK
version of Money along with much else.

There are many books available for users of Microsoft Money. No endorsements
are offered.

Opening a support incident with Microsoft Support may be the only possible
solution to many installation, setup, crash and data file corruption issues.
But remember, you bought the program for less than $100--in some cases a LOT
less--and they will not fly programmers to your house to debug your
problems.

References:
MS Support <http://support.microsoft.com>
MSKB <http://search.support.microsoft.com/kb/c.asp>
Amazon Microsoft Money books <http://www.amazon.com>
newsgroup on Microsoft news server
<groups.google.com <http://groups.google.com>
microsoft.public newsgroups via web (select Desktop
Applications/Money/Money) <http://support.microsoft.com/newsgroups>
Yahoo! Money group <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ms_money>
Microsoft Support Incident
<http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=fh;EN-US;INCIDENTSUBMIT>
Glyn Simpson's FAQ page <http://www.mvps.org/money/faq.htm>


Q4): Why doesn't Microsoft issue a fix for this terrible problem
immediately?

A4): The only Money problems Microsoft has ever remedied prior to the next
release are high-impact, pervasive problems that are not usage or "how-to"
in nature.

High-impact in this context typically has meant those that result in display
of incorrect balance information or the application abnormally ending in
common circumstances. Problems with reporting and the finance management
tools (budgeting, cash flow forecasting, debt reduction planner, etc.) have
typically not been fixed prior to the next release which has typically fixed
some and added others.

Pervasive in this context has typically meant that the problem was likely to
be visible to a majority of all Money users--not just those who read the
newsgroup.

They do this because they do not want to undertake major rework of the code
on the fly due to concern about regression problems, they don't want to
change how the product works--even when we don't like it working that way,
and because they have limited resources for working on the code itself and
most of these resources are dedicated to working on future versions.


Q5): Why won't anybody answer my question posted here?

A5): See the answer to "How can I make my posts here more likely to get
answers?"


Q6): Why won't Microsoft Support answer my question posted here?

A6): This newsgroup is not a Microsoft-to-user support vehicle. It is for
user-to-user support. Some Microsoft folks monitor this out of personal and,
occasionally, professional, interest. They are not here--indeed, this forum
is not here--to provide support from Microsoft to you. Try contacting
Microsoft Support more directly.

References:
MS Support <http://support.microsoft.com>
Microsoft Support Incident
<http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=fh;EN-US;INCIDENTSUBMIT>


Q7): Why won't the MVPs answer my question posted here?

A7): The MVPs are all unpaid volunteers with real day jobs who give their
time and talent to try and help where they can. Perhaps they're busy.
Perhaps they don't know how to help. See "How can I make my posts here more
likely to get answers?" for general advice on making your posting more
likely to get help. Whining, begging and complaining that the MVPs haven't
solved your problem is unlikely to help you solve your problem even if it
does make you feel better. Worse, such behavior may get your name in their
kill file so that your future postings will be invisible to them.


Complaint Department
--------------------

Q1): Back to the check stock question: Isn't it obvious that Money should
print the MICR data?

A1): No, actually, it isn't.

Money assumes you are using pre-printed check stock. The pre-printed check
stock has bank, payer name/address, check number, and the MICR stripe. Money
doesn't print this stuff because, at least for the MICR stripe, very, very
few (if any) Money users are equipped to print this stuff in ways that
conform to the requirements for these features.

Yes, you can print checks with VersaCheck, etc., that "look" right and, at
most banks that use optical instead of magnetic equipment, work acceptably.
You may also find that those that aren't using optical equipment are within
their power to reject the check and they will certainly have problems with
them even if they don't reject them. These problems may delay payments, etc.
Despite whether they "work" or not, they still don't meet specifications and
standards for such things. For one discussion of the special toner
requirements from somebody in the MICR font business, see the MICRfonts
page. VersaCheck stays below this radar by being small and selling MICR
toner cartridges for those users who care to do it right. If mass market
software like Money from a company of the profile of Microsoft enabled lots
of ignorant or devious (or cheap) people to ignore the FRB requirements for
such things, you can bet they'd hear about it. They call this type of
activity "aiding and abetting."

Money is now common enough that most any company that prints check stock can
print in the formats Money expects. This competition has brought the prices
down to the point where the pre-printed stock is always a better choice than
any of the other ways to do this.

References:
MICRfonts page about printing checks <http://www.micrfonts.com/print.htm>


Q2): How do I change the category groups?

A2): You can't, quite. Category groups are used internally by Money. You can
create new categories and subcategories, or use classifications, but the
'category groups' cannot be changed.

There are, however, a variant set of groupings, called Budget Groups,
derived from the default Category Groups and associated with each budget.
These **can** be modified, deleted, or supplemented in M02 and beyond. To do
this, when editing the budget, use the context (R-click) menus on the budget
group labels or select New to add a Budget Group. (Note that some of the
Budget Groups, like Debt, cannot be modified.) These Budget Groups are not
reflected back to the Category Groups that can be assigned to each category
and subcategory from category details, and, being attributes of each budget,
they are deleted when a budget is deleted or reset. (To my shame, I went
over a year without knowing this could be done until another poster, Carl
Draus, pointed it out. This capability is pretty well hidden.)

So, this leaves the immutable Category Groups which must be used somewhere
else in Money. We will award the newsgroup post of the month award to the
first poster who can identify two or more remaining uses for these Category
Groups besides their being the defaults for the Budget Groups. Honorary
mention for even one other use of any consequence. These things are truly
cryptic. Given this, there seems no point in fretting about modifying the
default Category Groups, even if it were possible.


Q3): How do I convert my data back to a previous version of Money? I
upgraded and now I wish I hadn't.

A3): In general, you don't. For this reason, any Money version upgrade
should be done with this in mind. If you are reading the newsgroup in a
panic because you just now realized that you made a mistake deciding to
upgrade months ago you will be disappointed. You may want to consider
maintaining your data in both your current and new version simultaneously
for some period before committing to the new version. All of these issues
are explained in excruciating detail in the screens that led you through
this process.

When you first open your data file with a newer version of Money, it saved a
copy of your old file--with a renamed file extension of the form .mnx, where
x is the version number of Money that the file came from up until Money2003,
or, for a Money 2002 file save by Money 2003, .M10. You can go back to this
file--with the old version of the application--and enter transactions that
have occurred since you converted. You can do this by manual means (print a
report and re-key the stuff in) or by exporting the accounts via QIF before
uninstalling the never version. Once exported, you can edit them in Notepad
or similar to remove the transactions that were in the original file before
importing the files into the old file.

For more information, see the MSKB article on reverting a data file to a
previous version.

References:
MSKB: Q178465 How to Revert to an Earlier Version of Money
<http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q178/4/65.asp>


Q4): How do I do batch submittals of Epays?
[Relevant to Money2002 (v.10)]

A4): You don't. Money 2002 took away this capability since Microsoft thought
it caused problems for some users. Possibly based on feedback here and on
the support lines, this capability returned in Money 2003 as the "new
feature" called Bills Outbox.


Q5): How do I schedule a bill to recur every six weeks/third year/fourth
Wednesday of the month?

A5): Sorry, you can't get there from here. What you see is what Money can
schedule. One of the greatest single weaknesses of Money--and one of the
easiest to fix if they only chose to--is that the recurrence model is
pathetic. Outlook provides a great example of how this should work. But the
Money designers don't seem to care.

The only workaround (that really doesn't work very well) is if you frequency
is something that is a nice factor of one of the frequencies provided: for
instance, six weeks can be faked, almost, by two identical "every three
months" transactions set six weeks apart. Like I said, this really doesn't
work very well.


Q6): I just moved my Money file to a new computer. All of a sudden Money
wants a password. Why?

A6): You need to make sure that the version of Money on the new machine is
the same or higher version. If not, this is the bizarre way Money elects to
tell you that Money files are not backward compatible to older versions.


Q7): I think open source software is pants! Why won't Microsoft release the
Money source code under the GPL?

A7): Because they want to make money by developing software and using that
software to vector us all to other things that generate revenue for them as
well. You might want to check out GnuCash. Please report your
findings/experiences back here.

References:
GnuCash <http://www.gnucash.org/>


Q8): I think Quicken is pants! (Or, Quicken has some neat feature Money
doesn't.) Why don't you all change to Quicken?

A8): If you would prefer to use Quicken, by all means, be our guest. Send
specific feature feedback to MSWish or via the Money Registration/Feedback
pages.

References:
MSwish mail
<mailto:[email protected]?subject=Money%20Wish&Body=My%20wish%20for%20Mon
ey%20is>
Money Registration/Feedback
<http://www.microsoft.com/money/support/regfeed.htm>


Q9): I think this new version is terrible. How do I exercise the 30-day
Money Back privilege?

A9): Assuming that you are in the United States or Canada, call Microsoft
Customer Service at (800) 426-9400. You will have to send the product back
to them with additional information (like a receipt for purchase and the
reason for return) and they will send you a check. Microsoft has a web page
with more details on this process.

References:
Refund Help Desk: 1-888-673-8624
<http://www.microsoft.com/info/nareturns.htm>
Microsoft North American retail product returns
<http://www.microsoft.com/INFO/NAReturns.HTM>


Q10): I tried the (M03) trial version and didn't like it. Now (M2K) wants a
password to open my file. What gives?

A10): Didn't you read the screens that popped up when it upgraded your file
to M03 telling you that you could not reopen an upgraded file back in your
original version? That's what they put them there for, it turns out. The
password message you are getting from M2K when trying to open your M03 data
file really has nothing to do with you setting a password on it--it's just a
lousy message meaning Money data files are not backward compatible.

You will need to go find your old file that the upgrade procedure left
behind. The screens told you all about this, too.

It'll be in the same directory as your [whatever].MNY file--which you can
rename [whatever].M11 or just delete--and will be named [whatever].MN8 (if I
remember my version numbers correctly). Rename it to [whatever].MNY and
double-click on it (assuming you've uninstalled M03 and reinstalled M2K) and
you should be right back where you were before you started messing with M03.

See also the answer to the question "How do I convert my data back to a
previous version of Money? I upgraded and now I wish I hadn't."


Q11): I'm having problems with Money. Should I reinstall the application?

A11): You can certainly try that. In most cases it does nothing to fix your
problem though it may make you feel better. Before you spend the time, you
might want to try opening the sample data file that installed with the
application. If it opens and works fine, then your problem probably has
origins in your data file, not the application's program files.


Q12): I've been reading this newsgroup and wondering: why is Money so full
of bugs?

A12): Looking at posts in this newsgroup should no more be used to infer the
defect rate in Microsoft Money than a trip to a auto body shop should be
used to infer the likelihood of automobile accidents.

People come here because they need help or because they are looking for
different or better ways to do things. Many Money users (who may or may not
have similar issues) never find their way here. Some of them may be having
problems. Most of them are not.

You can reasonably expect that issues that are discussed here frequently may
be issues for you as well.

Likewise, many posts here about crashes, data file problems, and
installation issues reflect issues that are not common--many are not even
rooted in Money--and you are unlikely to encounter them. (You may, however,
encounter your own set of issues. As always, your mileage may vary.)

Many of us have used Money for many years and many versions and have learned
to live with its characteristics and deal with the new set of cards the
Money development team deals each fall.


Q13): I've got a really neato feature idea. How do I get it to Microsoft?

A13): You can submit product suggestions to MSwish or via the Money
Registration/Feedback series of web pages which seem endless but probably
give them a better chance to get the item to the right place.

The corollary to this FAQ is: how come M[next] didn't incorporate the really
neato feature I've always thought it should?

This is a problem area for many of us. Generally each fall there is a period
after the release of the annual update when we all get a little crazy here
comparing what we'd hoped for in the new release with what Microsoft
delivered. The Money team has occasionally been upset with us here because
they are really proud of their new baby and many here fail to share their
elation.

There are a lot of unfortunate dynamics at work here. Microsoft wants to a)
increase market share vs. Quicken, b) reduce their support costs, c) make
the program ever more accessible to late adopters, d) leverage Money to get
more business directed to their own ventures and to their partners
(preferably ongoing metered relationships where they can send us bills each
month instead of having to hope we spring for the upgrade next fall--above
all, Microsoft has extreme AOL-envy), e) make some return on their
investment in Money development.

Since the largest single variable cost they have is Support, the only way to
reduce that cost is, unfortunately, to dumb down the product over time.
Further, all of the eager adopters--the people who will read the Help and
try different things and who are generally self-selected to be likely to
have success with the product--are already using it. As the market continues
to mature, each new adopter will be harder to get and will be less likely to
understand the product as it is. They also feel the need to match Quicken
feature-for-feature, get the magazine review points (none of the reviewers,
apparently, make serious use of either product) and earn a place with OEM
licensees for installation on new machines. The hardware manufacturers
probably dislike support costs even more than Microsoft and they bear
support costs for the OEM licenses. All of these factors work against
incorporation of the sophisticated features many of us here would like to
see in the product.

People say "I'd buy the upgrade if only they would put feature X in," but it
doesn't matter. Many of us buy the upgrades essentially every year. We pay
so little for them that Microsoft makes next to nothing off these sales.
Worse, the numbers are probably small in comparison to the OEM license
volume anyway.

Finally, remember that your cool feature may be my major annoyance.

These are probably the kinds of factors that the Money development team is
balancing as they decide what direction to take the product.

References:
MSwish mail
<mailto:[email protected]?subject=Money%20Wish&Body=My%20wish%20for%20Mon
ey%20is>
Money Registration/Feedback
<http://www.microsoft.com/money/support/regfeed.htm>


Q14): What happened to "Updated"/~/multiple recurrences/multi-select balance
and enter on my scheduled transactions?
[Relevant to Money2002 (v.10)]

A14): M02 completely redesigned the scheduled transactions implementation
and interface. Before M02, there was the estimated tilde (~), the "updated"
status message for a changed next occurrence, the ability to see all bills
in a series for time X not just the next occurrence of each series, and the
ability to multi-select transactions and see a projected balance after these
transactions or enter them all into the register. M02 brought us the ability
to change any of the next twelve future instances of a repeated scheduled
transaction series.

M03 came along and added back the estimated tilde and multi-select projected
balance but did nothing to show more than one future instance of any
recurring transaction for some window of time, the updated status of
individual scheduled items, or allow multi-select enter.

You can see multiple occurrences of scheduled items over time using
"Forecast cash flow."


Q15): Why can't I schedule a Loan Payment with pre-assigned classification?

A15): Only the Money development team knows for sure. It's always been this
way. When you enter the transaction in a register, or once it is entered,
you can classify the split transactions in a Loan Payment. You just can't
schedule it this way.


Q16): Why do I have to use Passport authentication with Money?
[Relevant to Money2002 (v.10) and up]

A16): You don't. Use of Passport authentication with Money is only required
for certain features. (See "What if I don't want to use Money with Passport
authentication?")

Passport has been required for use of the "Money data on the web" feature
since that feature was first offered in Money 2000 (? when was this first
offered?)

Its use was expanded with Money 2002. It is now required for "background
banking."

As of Money 2002, Passport authentication enables password recovery for
continued access to your data file via the Passport methods for password
maintenance--a much better method for password recovery, if you insist on
using file access authentication. Passport authentication is also required
for Money to do online activity in the background.

It is likely that there are other reasons why Microsoft is trying to
encourage Money users to use Passport. Passport may be more important in
future versions of Money than it is now.

If you or Microsoft have connectivity or service problems with Passport
authentication, it can complicate access to your data.


Q17): Why does Money install insist on installing Internet Explorer? I
despise Internet Explorer.

A17): Microsoft has used Internet Explorer (IE) components to implement the
user interface for Money versions starting with Money 98. Without IE, Money
will not function. This in no way means that you have to abandon your web
browser of choice. Browse the web using whatever you want. But install IE if
you want Money to work. This newsgroup is not the place for discussions
about web browser politics.


Q18): Why don't budgeting, cash flow projection and debt reduction planner
produce sane results?

A18): There could be a number of factors here:

1) Budget picks up some value from DRP and declares it in your budget. The
value from DRP is calculated who knows how, but it can be off-the-wall
sometimes.
2) Budget says that all scheduled income and expense are, by definition,
budgeted income and expense. So, if you have an unplanned income or expense
scheduled, it will distort your entire budget.
3) Budget ignores the first due date of a future expense that is a scheduled
income or expense. (E.g., if you have scheduled next year's IRA contribution
separately from this year's, Money will put both contributions in your
monthly budget now.)
4) DRP assumes that any account in plan will never be used once paid off.
For this reason, if you are a "convenience user" of your credit cards, it is
almost worthless. (I.e., if you continue to charge new expenses and pay the
bill off every month and do not incur interest charges.)
5) Money makes some assumptions about which account will be used for
budgeted but unscheduled expenses and income--generally it assigns these
amounts to the last account that accrued for the category in question.
(Starting in Money 2002 you have more control over these assumptions.) This
can lead to some very flaky results from the cash flow projection.
6) If you have set amounts of other expense or income in the budget
manually, and use accounts in the DRP to pay them you may have essentially
doubled-up the amount in the expenses half of the budget.
7) The settings in the "Customize cash flow" Common Task may help you get
results from Forecast Cash Flow that work better for you. Try them and see.
8) There seem to be a number of other strange things that these tools do.


Q19): Why is my Money file so large?
[Relevant to Money98 (v.6) and up]

A19): Money files have grown in size dramatically since early versions. The
reasons for this are no doubt complex and numerous. Added functionality
certainly accounts for some of this increase. Design choices accounts for
some of this--in particular, the choice to use the Jet database instead of
the custom ISAM, made with release of Money 98, increased file sizes by
factors of three or more. (Certainly, those of us who follow this also
continue to collect data each year.) Whether its storage is efficient or
economical is beyond the scope of the newsgroup. We see no evidence that
Microsoft considers compact Money data files a priority in the design
process.

Archiving is one way to reduce file size. See "How do I un-archive?" for
reasons not to do this. Some files imported from Quicken have been reported
to be huge.

Jet- and MSISAM-based versions of Money support periodic or as-required
compacting of the database. Salvage (see "What is the -s option? What is the
Super Salvage utility?") has been reported to help some cases of this.

The wide availability of huge hard disks and writeable CDs has reduced the
significance of this problem over time.

(My Money 2003 file has had continuous data entry since March, 1993, and has
never had entries archived. As of April, 2003, MoneyLink retrieves almost
27,000 transactions and over 3,700 investment transactions. The file is
almost 40 MB and backs up, compressed, on seven 1.44 MB floppies. Your
mileage probably varies.)


Q20): You must help me! My only floppy backup has a data error reading. What
do I do?

A20): If you are dependent on restoring a Money data file from floppies and
are getting a message like "cannot read from the specified device," there is
nothing anybody here can do to help you. It's really sad how many people
show up at the newsgroup with this story because they were depending on a
$0.10 floppy to hold one of their most important data files.

Error messages stating that the system cannot read from the specified device
are typically due to poor quality media (what do you really expect when you
buy white box diskettes for $0.10 apiece?), media damage (scratches from
dirty floppy drives or worn out diskettes), or media interchange problems
(writing floppy drive out of alignment one direction and different reading
drive out of alignment the other direction). Other things like CRT proximity
to floppy drives can cause transient problems--though this doesn't happen
much anymore.

Morals of story: #1) Always test backups to be sure they really are. #2)
Never depend on just one backup or form of backup as your only backup. #3)
Bad Money files can produce bad backups--so have multiple generations of
backup. #4) Never trust floppy drives and diskettes. Corollary: the less you
use the floppy drives, the more likely you are to have problems with data
errors. They get dirty and the dirt chews up diskettes. Corollary 2: using
diskettes cleans the drives by ruining the diskette.

My Money data is **far and away** my most important data file. It gets
backed up over the net to a second system on every exit. Once a week it gets
backed up to floppies and a) copied to another system, b) copied to an MO
drive on primary, c) copied from the second system backup file to a Jaz
drive on primary system, and d) copied to a MemoryStick on the laptop. Every
time I do anything major I make a copy before doing it and keep it around
until the next time I do something radical. This way if a problem creeps in
and doesn't get noticed for a while, I can go further back than one week.
Think all that's anal? Every time I go to the safe deposit box (twice a year
minimum) I take either or both of a Jaz cartridge and an 8cm CD-RW or CD-R
with a copy of the Money data file as a minimum. On top of all that, after
my most recent problem with corruption, which occurred on the day of the
weekly backup and also corrupted the "on-exit" backup, I wrote a script
which I run as a scheduled task every night that maintains a weekly cycle of
rotating daily backup copies on the primary system.

YMMV. But consider yourself advised.
 
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