Accounting & bookkeeping file saving version control protocol

Anthony MellorOwner
40 years working with one to two person businesses . In EE my focus is Excel bookkeeping & accounts & banking. (Not VBA)
By an accountant

1. Why this subject?

Accountants need clients to know/do this. To expand on the reason for this, it is about the timing and process of when to use "save as" when preparing accounting records. The bookkeeping processes in my other articles involve steps, such as sorting and significant data entry where using the same file name can cause serious loss of data. This article is simple in what it asks for, but can be a challenge in the timing.

2. Who is this for?

Clients (i.e. self employed and owner managers.). When preparing records especially in conjunction with your accountant the file exchange process needs careful application of file name version number increments, to avoid confusion and data being overwritten by each using the same filenames for different versions of the data.

3. Where? Country:

This will work for anyone anywhere,


To save me a lot of typing, to create a standard for my articles in this regard. I have extracted this from another article (of mine) because I believe it needs its own article that can be referenced and read in its own right.


When you use a database or formal accounting system you are protected from "breaking the system". Such systems also limit what you do to whatever the designer and programmers decided for you. I prefer my independence and freedom under the laws of bookkeeping. While this is about "save-as" which is very basic; it is the manner in which you use that function which is the subject of this piece. I have included notes about why NOT using the same filename throughout is not a good idea, for good measure.


This liberty means we need a process to protect us from destroying our data, or more likely the integrity of it. This loss of integrity is caused by such matters as losing the original data sort order or erasing something by mistake or sorting only part of the data and not all of it (across columns) and so on.

The solution is simple enough, in addition to autosave which saves us from computer failures such as power outs and crashes generally, save the file every now and then and especially before major changes, such as sorts with it's filename plus 01 02 03 etc appended.

Bear in mind that you may not be immediately aware of data damage so do not save a version and then immediately save over it with the newer version. This in fact means doing a straight file save and then a save as.

In addition to this I usually create a copy of the file before loading into Excel (PC Copy and paste, Mac File Duplicate) and increment the file name at that point, so if something goes wrong I can revert to previous. There is a certain instinctive skill involved in this, you may have to lose huge amounts of data a few times before it becomes more ingrained. When that calamity does befall you, recall that you are treading a well worn path and rebuilding files typically takes only 20% of the time it took the first time around. And relax! You are not alone.
If you send files out to clients or partners or whoever, lock that version at that point by duplicating it into the next increment and working on that one. Do no further work on the one you sent out, otherwise when they comment you will not have the same data and no ability to refer to it. In fact do the duplication and then send out the "previous" version - at that point the previous and current are identical

    If they return the file then do save it and add their initials and an incremental number on the end, such as 01 02 etc. So you have yourfile: myfile06.xls and they respond with it so you save it as myfile06theirs01.xls.


Who benefits from this? Accountants and their clients using Excel for bookkeeping through appropriate timing of the use of the simple "save as" process.

Version control is a perennial problem, stay aware of it. Programmers even have software to manage versions and expressions like "change management". We are somewhat amateur and do our best. Our most powerful aid is the human brain, immeasurably more powerful than any computer yet built.

When sending emails, put the updated filename in the subject.
That way you can all see progress just by looking at the email subjects list.



Chartered Accountant
United Kingdom
Anthony MellorOwner
40 years working with one to two person businesses . In EE my focus is Excel bookkeeping & accounts & banking. (Not VBA)

Comments (1)



thanks for your help, appreciate your support.

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