Recovering a NeatWorks database

A couple of weeks ago my computer crashed and Windows decided that it wasn’t going to boot up anymore.  I kept getting a blue screen of death about half way through the boot process.  The error on the BSOD was “Stop 0x0000007B” which aparently is an incredibly generic error that can mean many things.

I’m pretty sure it was infected with a rootkit because I was running a pretty shady file at the time.  Despite spending hours trying to salvage the Windows install I could not get it going again.  I finally decided I had wasted enough time and ended up reinstalling Windows 7 on a spare hard drive.  After installing Windows I connected the old hard drive with a usb adapter and started transferring over my data.

I ran into trouble when I was trying to restore the database for NeatWorks which is the application for my NeatReceipts scanner.  I’ve been using the scanner for a couple years now to create digital copies of all of my paper receipts and documents.  Since I trash the paper receipts after I have scanned them the database is fairly important to me.

I had a full backup of the database stored offsite at Dropbox but it was about two weeks old and during the past two weeks I had scanned several items.  I figured I would just copy the database directly off the old hard drive onto my new one and life would be great.  Well it turns out that it wasn’t as easy as I had hoped but after some digging around I finally figured out how to do it.

I couldn’t find a guide for this process on NeatCo’s website or elsewhere on the web so I decided to blog about it in case someone else ends up in the same situation.

Reinstalling Neatworks

Before you move any files you have to install NeatWorks on the computer you want to restore the data on.  You can install from the disk or download the software directly from NeatCo’s website.  Make sure you install the same version you were using previously.  I was using NeatWorks version 4 SP3b at the time so that is what I installed.

Copying the files from the old drive

To get all of the data back in place you will need to copy the directories below from the old drive to the new one.  NeatWorks must be closed before you copy the files over.

Old Drive:\ProgramData\The Neat Company -> C:\ProgramData\The Neat Company

Old Drive:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1\MSSQL -> C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1\MSSQL

Start NeatWorks

After you have copied both of those directories over you can restart NeatWorks and all of your old data should be present.  When I was first trying to copy the data over I was moving the MYSQL database files but I would start NeatWorks my older data was present but the files in the incoming queue were missing.  Finally I discovered the ProgramData directory which happens to contain everything that has not yet been committed to the database.  One final note I should mention is when you start NeatWorks for the first time after recoverying these files you may need to hit the ‘Show All’ button if some receipts don’t show up.  This button is located just below the search box when you are in receipt or document view.

Unfortunately NeatWorks doesn’t support the ability to schedule automatic backups but now that I know which directories I need I will synchronize them both to my Dropbox account.

Stop 0x0000007B

Sam Kear

Sam graduated from the University of Missouri - Kansas City with a bachelors degree in Information Technology. Currently he works as a network analyst for an algorithmic trading firm. Sam enjoys the challenge of troubleshooting complex problems and is constantly experimenting with new technologies.

39 thoughts on “Recovering a NeatWorks database

    1. I’m glad you found the info helpful. I was pretty worried about losing my neatworks database, especially because I don’t bother keeping the paper copies!

  1. Unfortunately NeatWorks seems to leave another set of users out to dry. I had NW3 on my old PC, which died without a backup. Since NW3 doesn’t support Win7, or maybe 64bit OSes, I could not install NW3 on the new system. Apparently, far as I can tell so far at least, there’s no way to take NW3’s data and import it into NW4. How is this possible? Any suggestions?

  2. Hi Sam, hope you’re still checking in and can help me. I have a crash hard drive, but can access files. However I have Microsoft SQL Server Compact Edition – and no file called MSSQL … do you know how Neat would store this portion?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Some of the older versions of Neatworks actually did use the Compact Edition of SQL Server. Your neat files are most likely stored within that directory.

      I’m not sure which exact versions of the Neat software used the compact edition though.

      As long as you can install the same version of Neatworks on a new computer you should be able to copy over the Microsoft SQL Server Compact Edition folder over to the new computer after installing the software and it should work.

      It might be tricky trying to find the exact version of software that you need, especially if you upgraded it at some point.

      If you have the original CD for Neatworks you might start there. I have a copy of the 4.6.2 installer I can post if it helps!

      It’s really frustrating that Neatworks removes the older versions from their website..

  3. Thanks, Sam, you were spot on! However, I also needed to bring over the Neat data files (nwdb) – I don’t know if it’s because I am using v5 or if everyone already knew that as a base. My old data has come back – 7 years. Thanks again!

    1. That’s awesome, I’m glad you were able to recover your data! Ever since I almost lost all my receipts I’ve started doing backups to Google Drive. It would be a mess if I lost everything. I still don’t miss the piles of paper though.

  4. Hi, Sam

    This is a helpful article, but I wanted to point out one or two bits of “fine print” for your readers.

    We switched from SQL Express to SQL Compact after version 4.6, so anyone with version 4.7 or newer should be looking for the *.nwdb files mentioned by Alynia. Default locations for these in version 4.x can be found in this article on the Neat site. In version 5, they’re usually right in the user’s “My Documents” equivalent, so they’re a bit easier to find.

    Some people (for example, anyone who has installed ACT! or some versions of Business Contact Manager for Outlook) may have multiple SQL instances. In that case, grab the contents of the folder with files named “nrprofessional” and “imagedb”.

    This sort of recovery can get tricky if you’re trying to go from a 32 bit machine to a 64 bit machine, but as long as you have the contents of that folder, one of our support reps can almost always get you back up and running.

    Obvious but obligatory disclaimer: I work for Neat.

  5. I thought I was being careful in “archiving” my 2012 data from Neatworks which I then saved onto discs. Apparently I either archived everything or somehow dumped everything but 2012. Now I can’t figure out how to restore the data from the archived files.

    The Neat website shows how to restore a database, but my files are .nwdb files and the restore feature looks for .nbak files. When I doubleclick on my .nwdb files Neatworks opens, but I don’t know where the files are.

    Any help?

    1. Marjorie,

      You’ll need to copy the .nwdb files into the NeatWorks database folder. The folder location varies depending on what version of NeatWorks you have installed. The easiest way to find the folder is to search for *.nwdb files from ‘My Computer’, then copy your backed up .nwdb files into this directory. You might need to restart your computer to restart the NeatWorks database. If you can get the files back into the correct folder you should have access to your data but unfortunately you can’t just double click on the files.

      Hope this helps!

  6. Sam,

    Thanks for the post! It’s been a three month nightmare trying to recover years of data that the Neat system is apparently unable to read. After the nightmare of being able to get no NEAT customer support and paying $15.00 a month to talk to a rep(s) that told me the .nwdb file extension was not a valid file extension so I needed to change all the file extensions .nwback and use the data utility migration tool is the 5.2 SP3 program. I wish I would have found this post months ago!!! This was extremely more helpful and much more informed that any NEAT customer support has been! I am going to go home and try it again tonight. If it works or not, at least I know I am not crazy in what I am seeing and others are having similar issues.



  7. Hey I just found this blog and was wondering if anyone had any advice. About two months ago my neat just stopped working. Would not open and the message I get is that a program is conflicting and when I close neat, I briefly see a message that the networks database is invalid or corrupted. I am running windows 7 64. With the latest version of neat (I upgraded the neat software after getting the the error messages to no avail) Neat support has thus far been unhelpful.

  8. I had to do a factory reset on my laptop. I saved all my files to an external hard drive. Now, I’d like to copy and paste the .nwdb files somewhere so that they show up when I open NeatReceipts. Problem is, I can’t find where to copy them to. Pulling my hair out!!!

    Thanks, Jill

  9. I have a NEAT DB that’s about 135 GB. There was an error syncing with the Neat cloud and I really need to recover the data. Any thoughts on fixing a broken DB? I would appreciate any help.

  10. After 3 days of stressing over losing all of my data for years I came across your site. With you instruction and the post from Alynia I have recovered ALL of my data! Learned my lesson and am backing up every time I make changes. Thank you so much!!

  11. I have the files saved in my documents in a NWCAB file. I’m running on 64 bit Windows 7. I have tried just about everything to get them to go over to the neat. Please help me!!!

  12. Thank you SO MUCH for this helpful and informative post. I just migrated my NeatWorks from an aging WinXP machine to a new Win7 desktop and was horrified to find that the newest version of their application doesn’t appear to recognized legacy back-up files. My faith in NeatWorks support was profoundly challenged when doing a search for *.nwdb did not yield a single hit. What more is there to say when the maker of a software product doesn’t include their own proprietary file extensions in their knowledge base?
    Thankfully, I found this thread. I copied the *.nwdb files from my old rig over the *.nwdb files the Networks installation on the new rig created and, like magic, my entire NeatWorks database was restored.

  13. Hi – It’s been four days now of trying to pull a backup of my Neat Receipts into the updated Neat Receipts. I’ve deleted all prior versions of Neat Receipts, installed the latest version, did the “migrate” and when I open Neat Receipts” – there’s NOTHING there. It’s says they have been “successfully” migrated, then where are they? Please help me?!

  14. I have an nbak file from neat and I have an iMac and the file was created on a windows pc. It is extremely important that I get into this file. I have not been able to open the file and have installed neat on 3 windows computers and it has crashed each one of them. Please help me.

  15. Help I went to my computer and turned on my neat desk , and lo and behold my data base was gone. It was neat desk 4 version what do I do. I can’t find disk and I see some circles where the neat desk data is in my computer What do I do

  16. Not sure how old the above posts are or if this will actually post? I am running version 5.4 (5.5 is available however 5.5 does not work with Windows Vista which is what I use). My computer crashed and I had to move everything to a another computer I had, also running Vista.
    I am using the Neat Cloud so thought this would be a breeze and could just let it sync via the cloud once I re-installed Version 5.4 on the other computer. Well I have had my computers attached to the cloud for 3 days now and it is still downloading my information. At thus point I am at 82% downloaded so hope it will be finished by tonight?
    An issue I am seeing though is that it is not downloading 100% of the SAME information. Before my other computer crashed it showed that my Neat files were 100% synced with the cloud! however that is not what I am seeing as of now. A few days before my old computer crashed I had CREATED some NEW FOLDERS and moved information from other folders into these NEW FOLDERS, then I DELETED the OLD FOLDERS. like I said earlier, it showed that the Neat Cloud was 100% synced. so far what I am seeing is the old DELETED FOLDERS and the NEW FOLDERS are NOT THERE.
    Any ideas?


  17. I updated NEAT and now it crashes right when you open it.
    I have 5 years of files and receipts in the DBs
    Last backup was 6 months ago – shame on me
    I restored a backup from 3 days ago (after I purchased and downloaded Adobe elements 13)
    The backup restore did not fix my NEAT issue but it did delete my new install of my new purchase
    No I cannot reload Adobe elements 13 – license/serial number issue – Adobe support is worthless
    I want to re-install NEAT but can you tell me where the DB files are so I can copy them in case I need to import them back later

    Having a really bad day computer day …………

  18. I have an old version of Neat receipts (4.1.0) on my old MacBook Pro that is slowing dying. I have a new Mac and we were able to get the old version to install and transfer some of the data but some of the report fields have merged making them useless. Also, the newest items did not transfer. I’ve tried to reach neat but they have not responded to my email. I’m trying to find out. Is there a way to recover the files and restore the report fields?

  19. I am migrating from a Windows XP (32 bit) to a Windows 7 professional (64 bit). I am using Neat Receipts Version 4 v4.9..8 that is loaded and executes for my external hard drive (F:). My original Neat Receipts will not load on the new system since it is a 32 bit program. When I plug the eternal hard drive in my new computer Neat Receipts does not run. Additionally, when I try to back up my database on my old computer, it eventually halts, gives me an error and when I start Neat Works it starts a ReIndex of my database. Any ideas on how to get this on my new computer and eventually get to version 5?

  20. Help me PLEASE! I have a new dell computer, running Windows 8. I was using my Neat receipts & scanner yesterday with no problems and today I turned it on and all of my data is GONE! I had not yet backed it up. There are thousands of receipts and data missing. Can you please help me? I am using the latest version of Neat Works software.

  21. Anybody know where I can download an older version of Neat Desk, such as 5.6?
    I think the “corrupt files’ are not really corrupted, but Neat does not care to investigate, or even help me. I appreciate any ideas.


    1. Hi Jon, I too am being told that my old DB has been “corrupted”, and this is from the help desk and their two hours of remote desktop evaluation and attempts to get their old format to work with their new platform. I also don’t believe that my database is corrupted, just mismanaged.
      Was there any recovery of your data?

      1. Hi Patrick,
        I tried everything, and I mean I paid for help. I also paid neat for a months of support. It was a joke,
        they remote linked onto the computer, and downloaded tools from open websites, as I was telling them not to do so, as my antivirus was warning me constantly. When they finally stopped and logged off, I had 14 Trojans.

        I threw away the neat unit, (at a huge cost, because It cost me a year of personal tax data and corporate tax data, and purchased a Scan Snap by Fijitsu. Somehow, Neat’s backup process rendered all of the backup files corrupted. They are just renamed zip files. They were kept on a separate local dedicated disk. There is no way anything but Neat caused the problem. I wish you luck. I am simply done wasting my time with them.

        Thanks for contacting me, and I truly hope you can get your data back. Neat may be able to recover the indexes, but not the images, which is useless.
        Best Wishes,

  22. Looks like I am not alone by any means. I had Neat working fine on a Windows 8.1 machine which crashed. Files are fine. First assumed I could load the same database into the then current version ( running on a new Windows 10 machine, but no, as you all confirm. (Got the “Unable to Launch Neat” popup.) Uninstalled and reinstalled Still got the popup. I copied over the following folders:

    from: to:
    Old C:\Users\[User]\Documents\Neat Data New C:\Users\[User]\Documents\Neat Data
    Old C:\Users\[User]\AppData\Local\The Neat Company New C:\Users\[User]\AppData\Local\The Neat Company
    Old C:\Program Files (x86)\[SQL Server Compact] New C:\Program Files (x86)\[SQL Server Compact]

    Still get the popup. Any suggestions?

  23. Running Neatworks version 5.4 offline. My system crashed but I had a recent backup of the data on an external drive. When I installed the software that come with the scanner version 5.1 on a new computer and attempted to restore the database, it tells me the version 5.4 data is not compatible with version 5.1 software. It also appears that Neat has discontinued ALL support for offline software and there is no option for me to download required version 5.4 Of course I can’t confirm this because I’m not actually able to speak to someone without purchasing tech support. Any suggestions? Is switching to their cloud service my only recourse? This is very frustrating. Basically I took all the precautions to protect my data and now the Neat company is holding my data hostage.

    1. Dear Mike,

      I lost two years of data due to what I consider flawed software derived from some open source code that neat altered to make it proprietary. It is unreliable, and it can and does generate invalid, unreadable backups, that look just fine until you try to restore them.

      Bite the bullet, throw the scanner in the trash, delete the software, and buy a ScanSnap by figitsu, not as many
      options to generate reports, but I have not even explored it full potential yet. Do not pay for neat support, I tried that, it sucked, and they used public download sites to remotely install utilities on my workstation, which were, of course full of Trojans and viruses, but they did not even care.

      In short, neat markets well, but it not reliable and its technical support is expensive, hard to reach, and actually not support at all, it is negative support.

      I hope you can recover your data. I do know that the back up files are really zip files with a different name, and there is a tool to convert them or maybe even just change the file extension to .zip (on a copy) and see if you can use 7-zip or winzip to recover.

      have a great day. good luck.

  24. Sam, are you still following this? I had a Hard Drive crash and luckily recovered most everything…except Neat, I got the cant open database. researching the help files I found that the window is supposed to let you find out where its looking for the files. Nope it would flash on the screen then gone before I could even move my mouse to it. Have been wrestling with this for 6 months. No help from Neat unless you pay… really!!!??? I already paid for this thing once! Its like getting a new car and a year later you have to pay some one to start it each month! Unethical in my book. anyway I have 20 years of tax records and receipts as well as may owners manuals, recipes etc. stored on this neat data base I cant get to, and no, the receipts are shredded. I got it to worked for one day by migrating to my laptop, but it died again. I DO NOT WANT TO STORE MY DATA ON THE CLOUD!!! so, does anyone have an idea how to either migrate the neat data to a usable format or get neat 5 running again? by the way this all started after windows 10 took over my desk top and then my hard drive crashed. I am running windows 7 on my laptop.

    1. Roy,
      Did you ever get any help on your neat receipt? I to, am running windows 7, and it appears my neat data has disappeared, and when I try to open the database, there is nothing there, and my external backup hard drive, has nothing for neat. Did you ever get any help to find out where this data is hiding? I am at my wit’s end, as I also have tax records and important info that I backed up. Thanks in advance, Karla

      1. Hi Karla, yes I found were they are hiding: c:\users\your name or computer name\documents or mydocuments\neatdata. there are 3 files you have to have so copy these to another location for safety:
        bla bla cabinet (what ever you named it)
        imagedb1 (can have a lot of these)
        also there will be an idx and qsp folder, probably should copy those as well.
        No no one is helping on this. I think they all have up. I haven’t yet. if neat uses SQL compact or other version there should be a way to convert them.
        I have successfully started neat by unloading it and reloading the disk that came with my scanner but it has a different cabinet name and wont let me copy my old files back in there to recover them.

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