Why is Sage Line 50 so slow?

NB. If you want to know how to make Sage run faster click here for later posts, and read the comments below (there are a lot!).

As regular readers will know, I don’t think much of Sage accounting software, especially Sage Line 50. It’s fatally flawed because it stores its data in disk files, shared across a network using a file server. I suspect these.DTA files are pretty much unchanged since Graham Wylie’s original effort running under CP/M on an Amstrad PCW. There is continual talk that the newer versions will use a proper database, indeed in 2006 they announced a deal to work with mySQL. But the world has been been waiting for the upgrade ever since. It’s always coming in “next year’s” release but “next year” never comes.The latest (as of December 2009) is that they’re ‘testing’ a database version with some customers and it might come out in version seventeen.

In fact it’s in Sage’s interests to keep Line 50 running slower than a slug in treacle. Line 50 is the cheap end of the range – if it ran at a decent speed over a network, multi-user, people wouldn’t buy the expensive Line 200 (aka MMS). The snag is that Line 50 is sold to small companies that do need more than one or two concurrent users and do have a significant number of transactions a day.

So why is Line 50 so slow? The problem with Sage’s strategy of storing data in shared files is that when you have multiple users the files are opened/locked/read/written by multiple users across a network at the same time. It stands to reason. On a non-trivial set of books this will involve a good number of files, some of them very large. Networks are comparatively slow compared to local disks, and certainly not reliable, so you’re bound to end up with locked file conflicts and would be lucky if data wasn’t corrupted from time to time. As the file gets bigger and the number of users grows, the problem gets worse exponentially. The standard Sage solution seems to be to tell people their hardware in inadequate whenever timeouts occur. In a gross abuse of their consultancy position, some independent Sage vendors have been known to sell hapless lusers new high-powered servers, which does make the problem appear to go away. Until, of course, the file gets a bit bigger. Anyone who knows anything about networking will realise this straight away that this is a hopeless situation, but not those selling Sage – at least in public.

One Sage Solution Provider, realising that this system was always going to time-out in such circumstances, persuaded the MD of the company using it to generate all reports by sitting at the server console. To keep up the pretence this was a multi-user system, he even persuaded them to install it on a Windows Terminal Server machine so more than one person could use it by means of a remote session.

If that weren’t bad enough, apparently it didn’t even work when sitting at the console, and they’ve advised the customers to get a faster router. I’m not kidding – this really did happen.

The fact is that Sage Line 50 does not run well over a network due to a fundamental design flaw. It’s fine if it’s basically single-user on one machine, and I have clients using it this way. If you want to run multiple users, especially if your books are non-trivial, you need Sage 200/MMS – or a different accounting package altogether.

94 Replies to “Why is Sage Line 50 so slow?”

  1. We had speed issues a while back. Disabled Indexing services on the server that speed up file searches – problem solved.

  2. For non standard lines we used a single product code; it was being used many thousands of times. Like many Sage users we suffered from performance issues, in particular updating invoices took forever and sometimes updates failed and invoices has to be rekeyed. The invoices that would not update all had one thing in common – the non standard product code!

    So, we started using a different product code and…. you got it, updates ran in an instant with no failures.

    If you use a single product code for certain lines, consider changing it when updates slow down.

    Hope this is of use, it certainly worked for us.

  3. I thought disabling SMB2 in a 2008R2 environment was only necessary if there are mixed clients on the nextwork, ie, Win 7 and Win XP?

    Does anyone have a definitive answer on this?

    1. From my experience you’re right about SMB2: using Sage with mixed clients (XP or below with Vista or above) usually doesn’t work well at all.

      Solution is (as suggested below) to either use clients all of the same level, or to run Sage on a remote desktop server (so all clients are not only at the same level, they’re on the same machine).

      Of course you could have some clients and a remote desktop server, as long as they are at the same OS level – but if you have the remote desktop server you may as well use it for everyone, and store the Sage data on it as well.

  4. This is off-topic but it’s simple enough to answer – you need to use Sage 2009 or later on your home PC in order to be able to use Sage 2009 data files.

  5. Hi,

    Can you please advise on the following?

    I’ve commenced on a Sage Computerised Accounts – Level 2 course and a Sage Payroll course.

    We are using Sage 50 Professional 2009 version for our course work and exams.

    I have Sage 2008 v 14 installed on my home pc – as my Computerised Accounts – Level 1 was based on this Software.

    As a result, I’m unable to restore current practice files for Level 2 (Sage 2009), as 2008 & 2009 files are not compatible.

    Please advise. My exams on 21st Mar 2013.

    Thank you.

  6. If it helps anyone….

    I’m running Accounts Professional 2011, 10 users, networked. 1GB network cards, 2 servers (domain, file server – this hosts Sage). Server 2008 (6GB ram) for Sage and Small Business Server 2003 (4GB ram) for domain controller.

    There are c260,000 transactions, 64,000 invoices and we’ve never cleared out old transactions\invoices. We don’t use the stock control feature to much extent (not sure but that might have a bearing on performace). I don’t know how this compares to some of you guys but if you have less transactions then I would consider upgrading hardware if it is painfully slow.

    We get lockups (green bars of death) and reports\reconciling can be slow sometimes). Excel integration for reports helps. In the main, we get by but I would certainly consider moving to a system with a more robust database (mysql based) but the step-up in cost means we continue to stick with it.

    We put a windows 7 machine into the network alongside windows XP. This was a complete disaster, so if anyone has done this then you have two options; downgrade the machine to XP or upgrade all your existing machines (we did the latter). Reports seem to run faster on windows 7.

    I feel like I’m giving Sage the thumbs up but I’m not beacsue I think they are appalling when it comes to any kind of customer service. I refuse to pay for the support package and think they should have a site dedicated to user experience and offer tips to improve things – guessing that might affect their revenue streams, so won’t hold my breath. It’s time they upgraded to a mysql database as this could make a significant difference to our experiences

    1. PS. I don’t run anti-virus, preferring to protect the network centrally (use a proxy server) when conecting to the internet and not allowing any software installations on local machines

  7. my accountant, in 1999, recommended Sage. I didn’t realise he did this so he wouldn’t have to do any work in an audit – just run off some reports!

    Since then, it has been like gradually digging a grave from which less and less sunlight can enter. The product is terrible. Not just terrible – it’s the worst, most awkward, error prone piece of software I have ever come across.

    It now hangs after printing EVERY invoice. I have to quit and re-start it, so issuing 20 invoices is now an hour of headache. The emails don’t work at all – after two days of tinkering with every imaginable parameter I was told emails were new to that release and probably didn’t work.

    I refuse to pay to upgrade this; we paid support for years but every upgrade made things more complex and difficult. I hate it. I loathe it. I detest it. The big problem my company has is this wretched piece of software. I too would rather have a manual system than this absolute dog.

  8. I published a comment on this site back in 2010 expressing my frustrations with Sage Line 50… at the time I promised myself that I would find a replacement for Line 50. I am pleased to confirm that in April this year I ditched Sage Line 50 and am now running with RBA retail software http://www.rbauk.com. My bookeeper was against it, my accountant was dead against it… but their operations are “back of house”. I could no longer suffer the interolerable slowness of Line 50 at “front of house”.
    The new RBA software has solved all my problems as it operates on an SQL database… very pleased and satisfied that I am no longer “hostage” to Sage Line 50 .

    [Ed: I don’t normally allow links promoting anything other than a blog post in a comment – where would it end? – but I’m letting this through.

    I’ve spoken with RBA software and they and their system their system both sound sensible – running on Windows with a Sybase back-end database, and the ability to handle a very large number of product lines, and they weren’t afraid to point me at customers who could back up this claim. I think they only support Windows as a platform, but Sybase is available for other servers.

    It’s an out-and-out retailer system with associated modules like service and repair, so it won’t suit everyone but sounds just the think if you’re a retailer.]

  9. Installing sage line 50 on a 2008 r2 server for remote desktop users to login. We cannot have more than one session of sage open at a time?

    1. You realise that Micro$oft charges extra for Terminal Server (RDS) licenses? IIRC you get/got just two for “free” even with the Server versions, and they’re per-user. Not to be confused with the Client Access License (CAL).

      Even with this, I recal it not working as smoothly as one might have hoped. Just because the flat-file “database” is being accessed on the same machine rather than over a network, it’s not going to overcome the fundamental multi-user problem. All it does is make it faster.

      Sage do claim this works in their Knowledge Base article 9729 found here. You might want to follow their instructions. Does that sound too cynical?

  10. Guys, I think I may have the solution to this..
    We installed a new network which ran fine except for updating invoices which took an absolute age. We narrowed down all the usual suspects to no avail.
    it turned out to be to do with stock records. Clients rarely seem to clear these down and then compress and this particular client used a ’00’ generic code for all items he sold that were not regular stock. His stock file had transactions going back to 2000 and this ’00’ code had aboslutley 1,000s of transactions in it.

    We deleted the stock history up to 2 years past and started a new generic code of ‘000’.

    The invoice update went from 45 minutes for 25 sales invoices down to about 10 seconds.

    The to update seemd to be entirely down to the time taken to access all the transactions in the ’00’ stock record. Individual invoices updated (no ’00’ stock line) took a couple of seconds; invoices with a ’00’ stock line took in excess of 1 minute.

    Give it a try love to hear how you get on.


  11. The only solution I can vouch for is to install Sage on a Remote Desktop server, and have all users connect to that to run Sage (effectively locally on that machine). This avoids all network problems (as there’s no network traffic apart from the Remote Desktop sessions) and mixed environment issues (as it’s a single machine).

    We use Server 2003 for this, but that’s just because there was a problem with printing to e-mail on a previous version of Sage; there’s no reason that I’m aware of why you shouldn’t use Server 2008 R2.

  12. We have just upgraded to version 2012 having been advised by Sage that the “waiting for” problems had been overcome in this version. We are still getting long waits with “waiting for *.dta” messages. We have tested running the software with all anti-virus switched off, and we have disabled SMB2 as suggested above (we are on a mixed XP and Windows 7 network. Server, PC’s and network are all at or above the “recommended” levels. Does anybody have any other suggestions because Sage don’t

  13. Have a customer who is having slow performance when posting invoices !
    SBS 2008 and Windows 7 single client with approx 20k records
    Have added the exclusions in Symantec Endpoint Security AV

    Performance issues that i have seen on all previous version of SAGE50 using the SAGE 50 flatfile db are still occuring in v2012 patch6 over a network

    Have now made the change to SMB1.0 to see if this will improve.

    I will add a response if this improves the posting performance.

  14. Assuming you’re tied to Sage, Terminal / Remote Desktop server is absolutely the way to go, and much cheaper than Line 200. We have a Server 2003 virtual machine running on a relatively low-end VMware host server, 10-15 users simultaneously, and no problems at all. Trying to do that over a network…. it was terrible.

  15. about six years ago we got updated from sage line 100 to mms and have had nothing but problems since. We pay about £1000 per year for a new licence but in the six years have never go a update. Were do we go from here

  16. Mark

    Take a look at the SMB2 problem I mentioned somewhere in this comments section. If your servers are 2008 or 2008 R2 and your clients are Vista or Windows 7, then you should consider disabling SMB2 on your network.

    + adding DTA to your exclusions + the other helpful stuff in this comments list.

    1. If anyone is in any doubt, it appears that Sage have done some serious work on Sage Line 50 2012. We have customers reporting very positive performance improvements after install and data conversion.

      [Ed: Personally I’d like something more than hear-say, but interesting]

  17. Our Sage “partner” upgraded us to the latest version in April without any authorization from us. It has virtually put our whole company at a standstill for the past few months. Sage stalls with every operation at every workstation with messages such as: (Waiting to open file ACCDTA). A workstation could stall for anything between 5 mins up to an over an hour. Sometimes sage just vanishes from the screen and you have to log-on again, remove the user that was logged on and hope for the best. This regularly causes data corruption which means we are checking data + doing back-ups twice a day – a process which takes an hour each time. We’ve upgraded our hardware memory + power at the sage “partners” request and at a cost of 1000.00 euro. We’ve cleared down 10’s of thousands of transactions bring it well below the recommended limit. We’ve tinkered with + adjusted antivirus software as recommended. None of all this has brought about any improvement. Invoices are going out between 10 + 30 days late, same applies to statements. Using the sage program is the single largest cause of stress within our company and has been our largest challenge since it was first installed back in 2001. If sage have such a large customer-base, it comes as no surprise to me that the world is always on the brink of financial meltdown. I am seriously considering returning to manual book-keeping.

    1. Mark,
      A lot smaller company we had exactly the same problems, excluded every sage folder we could find on server and client from virus scan, all sorts of tweaks and tricks but the thing that we hadn’t done which solved most of our problems was to disable real time virus scanning on .dta file types. as soon as these file types were excluded from checking our problems vanished.

      We were using eset antivirus, win 7 clients and win 2003 server.

      1. Hi Jon,

        Below is the response form our IT guy:

        We have done this.
        There are a couple of metrics on the other page you sent that might
        lead in the right direction, though.
        http://www.sbslimited.co.uk/AV.htm [broken link 08-Jan-2015 – redirects to another site]
        That page would seem to indicate that Avast Home (which is related to
        the AV we use) has a pretty substantial impact on file access times,
        regardless of whether files are excluded, or even if the AV engine
        itself is disabled completely.
        The only way to confirm or refute this is to uninstall the AV from all
        the workstations and do some testing.
        If this is the case, I will be looking to the manufacturers for a
        refund, and we will have to go with another AV solution.

        – I’ll let you know if this is the solution to our problems.



  18. Quote: “People say it’s stupid to suggest Sage actually want these errors and problems to continue just to get more money and I agree.” Un-quote.

    Maybe there is a possibility that they may be right and they do. I have heard that they want people to keep with the support. Looking at it black and white why would anyone keep a product going that is just so bad. Jobs? Face-saving? Corporate psychopathy?

    If Tesco made a product that everyone complained about it would be removed from the shelves tout-suite!

    Why not the same with Sage?

  19. Just thought I should update everyone, after telling them I had a special contact at Sage that was assisting me in my Line 50 struggle.
    Sage have clearly decided I’ve ran out of guarantee and have refused to help fix a standard Sage error (loss of cumulative balances on customer statements) preferring to tell me that “someone” in my office has opened the statement to edit it and changed the details – no one has and contacts on the web told me this is a well known Sage error, caused by a Sage update. Strange, I thought updates are supposed to make things better rather than worse!
    Anyway, they’ll fix the error they caused in their program if I pay them to – so I went on the web, got free help that fixed it in 2 minutes flat.
    People say it’s stupid to suggest Sage actually want these errors and problems to continue just to get more money and I agree. I think that line of thought probably is just a totally understandable knee-jerk reaction to the stress caused by Line 50. My experience suggests that, when these problems occur, rather than being honest and fixing them for free, they are taking the opportunity to get people to pay for Sage Cover even though this means avoiding telling their customers the truth. If this isn’t the answer, I don’t know what is – I dread to think they need the cash so badly they’re prepared to ruin their own reputation to get it.

  20. As an IT Support Technician I can honestly say this problem is one of the banes of my life. Every time I see that I have to go and see a customer about Sage being slow I just want to scream “Of course it is, the whole thing is garbage!” but that wouldn’t cut the ice with them, they all think we have some magical salve that will fix all slowness issues. I loath Sage and hope that a competitor comes along with a good SQL based alternative that blows them out of their comfortable little rut so that they either fix their product or go bust!

    1. I have been in I T Support since 1982, working for the likes of BT, Barclays, RBS, Nationwide, Tescos as well as single users working out of their back bedroom. I have worked with Sage since the days when it came on a single 5.25 floppy and they got you to buy additional utilites at the training courses. I am aware of the inherent network speed issues and the reasons, I have also found many ways of overcoming them. But now I’m stumped, Sage on WIndows 7 is abominable. I’ve tried every available trick and have searched long and hard across the internet and technical forums without any luck. Sage states “there is no problem we are aware of with Sage on windows 7” The web would beg to differ, Other than downgrading to XP or upgrrding the accounts software any ideas would be appreciated.

      1. AJ and others.

        We have found that the following “fixes” various flavours of Sage, and various performance issues.

        1) exclude all of the Sage files from being scanned by AV on server and desktop.
        2) make your shiny new VISTA/WIN7/SERVER 2008 (inc SBS) use SMB 1, in other words disable SMB 2 on all computers/servers.

        In our experience this makes the system much more useable (not perfect, because it cant be if its written like it is!)). Its still terrible that we have to make these changes to suit Sage, but it this is what we have found with 3 separate networks that run Sage, all with variations of the above OS software.

  21. Our many years of Oracle Siebel / BI consulting experience means that we are the proven Oracle Siebel / BI consulting partner, with a strong track record of delivering successful projects for our clients.

    [Ed: This is just about the dumbest attempt at spamming thus far (URL removed). Are you really so stupid as to draw my attention?)]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *