PayTrust* CD Export Tool

Overview

PayTrustExport is a free tool that lets you extract your data from an encrypted PayTrust end-of-year CD and copy it onto your hard drive. Once the data has been exported, you can view the data using a normal web web browser and the free Adobe PDF viewer - you do not need the PayTrust proprietary viewer software.

UPDATE 2/4/2015: I just got my 2014 CD and, amazingly, this tool still works! Sad that Paytrust basically has not updated anything for at least 6 years, but happy that I can Still get my data off the CD!

Download

http://josh.com/PayTrustExport/PayTrustExport.zip

Instructions

  1. Put your PayTrust CD into your CD-ROM drive. Quit out of the PayTrust viewer software when it pops up.
  2. Download the PayTrustExport.zip file from the link above.
  3. Make a directory on your hard drive where you'd like to keep your PayTrust data. On my Windows machine I put it in My Documents\My PayTrust Data.
  4. Extract/copy the contents of the PayTrustExport.zip file unto your newly created directory.
  5. Open a command prompt in this directory and run the RUNME.BAT file.
  6. When asked, enter the drive letter of the CD-ROM drive that you loaded your PayTrust CD into. Enter just the letter (for example "D" except without the quotes).
  7. When asked, enter the appropriate Security Key for the PayTrust CD you are exporting. If you don't know your key, you can log into the PayTrust website and click on "CD Order Status" to look it up.

That's it. The program will chug along for a while exporting, decrypting, and fixing up your files and copying them to your hard drive. When it is done, it will open a web page off your local hard drive. There will be a new sub-directory below the current directory. This new directory contains all your exported PayTrust files. Make sure you check that all the data is there - I once got a CD from PayTrust that did not have the full set of data on it. That is not something you want to find out 7 years from now.

If you have other PayTrust CDs that you want to export, you can insert the next CD and re-run the RUNME.BAT file. The data from each CD will automatically be placed in a new subdirectory whose name is based on the unique PayTrust ID of the source CD.

When you are done exporting, you can safely delete the PayTrustExport program- all you need are the files that it produced and you can view these files using any web browser.

If you do use the program, please send me a short email at the address at the bottom of this page just so I'll know how many people are using it. I will also let you know if I make any improvements that you might like.

*IMPORTANT

PayTrust is a trademark of Intuit Inc. I do not work for PayTrust or Intuit. PayTrust has nothing to do with this program. I am just a PayTrust customer. I wrote this program because I needed it. I posted it here because I figure that other people would need it too. I don't make any money from you using the program. Please do not download or use this program unless you agree not to sue me.

Why would I export the data off of my PayTrust CD?

  1. It is much more convenient. You can avoid having to run the PayTrust viewer software and having to find and enter your security key every time you want to look at your bills.
  2. It is much more likely to be accessible in the future. PayTrustExport produces standard HTML and PDF files. These are pretty close to universal formats, so it is very likely that 7 years from now you will still be able to view HTML and PDF files on whatever computer you happen to have then. It is much less likely that your computer in 7 years from now will be able to run the proprietary Windows executable programs off the PayTrust CD, and without them you won't be able to view your data. Heck, you might not even have a CD-ROM drive by then. 7 years ago I was using 3.5" floppies which are now useless...
  3. It is much more portable. The HTML and PDF files that PayTrustExport produces can be viewed on pretty much and computer or OS available today, including Mac OSX and Linux.
  4. It is searchable. The unencrypted HTML and PDF files that PayTrustExport produces can be indexed by desktop search program like Google Desktop and MSN Desktop. This means that you can use these tools to easily search for information inside your exported PayTrust bills. This is very handy.

If I unencrypt my PayTrust data, can't anyone look at it?

Yes, once you export your data using PayTrustExport it will be just as visible as any other data on your hard drive. There are many ways to protect your local hard drive from unauthorized access and you should probably consider using one even if you do not decide to export your PayTrust data.

How do I know that your program won't disclose some confidential data about me?

I wish more people thought the way you do! Remember, *every* time you run any program on your computer, you are trusting the person who wrote that program not do do anything bad.

If you are really paranoid (smart?), you could take a new computer (or a new virtual computer using something like VMWare or Virtual PC) that was not connected to the internet, use PayTrustExport to export the data off your CD, copy the resulting files onto a USB key, and then destroy (reformat/reinstall) the computer. This is not as crazy as it sounds, especially if you use one of the virtualization products.

Ultimately, in this case you probably do not have to worry about any of that. You already know that I own josh.com which is clearly a not a throw-away domain. It is registered to my real name and always has been,  so you know that you could track me down if my program actually did do something bad to you. Still, it never hurts to be overly cautious.

Oh my god, I need this program so bad! Can I please pay you?

I wrote this program because I needed it myself, not to try to make money. I'm very happy if it helps other people too. If you really want to do me a favor, send an email to someone at PayTrust and ask them to read my What's wrong with PayTrust? section on this page and maybe we can get these problems fixed!

What is PayTrust?

PayTrust is an _almost_ amazingly great bill payment service. They receive your monthly bills at a PO Box and scan them in. You then get an email telling you that a bill came in, you look at the bill, and then you pay it with one (well - now it is up to about 5) click. They keep digital copies of all your bills and payment records and you can go back and see any of them at any time. They also can send you a CD at the end of each year with all your data on it to keep for your records.

Unfortunately I say "almost amazingly great" because the service suffers from just a few of trivial flaws that just about make it suck- at least for me. The sad part is that these flaws would only take a couple of hours (at most) to fix, but apparently no one at PayTrust is home because it has been several years and none of these obvious problems have been fixed. Too bad, because I think that PayTrust could easily become a *huge* player in the online payment world, save a huge amount of time for a huge number of users, save a huge amount of paper and postage for bill senders, and make a huge amount of money for the PayTrust owners. Oh well.

That said, even in its current semi-broken state, PayTrust is still a huge time saver if you get more than a couple of bills a month, and it saves you from having to keep file cabinets filled with paper bills. I just wish it was a tiny bit better...

What's wrong with PayTrust?

Not much, really. But the few things that are wrong are pretty horrible- more so because they would be so simple to fix...

  1. During an update a few years ago, they added a per check/per payee limit to every account. This makes it impossible to use PayTrust for many of the payments where I'd really want to use it the most (think paying annual property taxes and large one-time expenses). This in turn makes it impossible to use the PayTrust reports without having to add back in any payments that you had to do by hand. Once you have to start remembering to manually add stuff into the reports, it basically ruins the whole point of using the system in the first place - to save time and have accurate records. Ahhhh!!!! Instead, PayTrust should let *me* pick the limits on my account since, after all, I am the one responsible for paying the checks anyway.
  2. A couple of years ago, Quicken ended support for importing data from QIF files. This is bad because PayTrust can _only_ create Quicken QIF files so there is now no way to get your PayTrust data into Quicken without typing it in. Ahhh!!! This is especially insane because QUICKEN AND PAYTRUST ARE OWNED BY THE SAME COMPANY (INTUIT)!!!! PayTrust should immediately add the ability to download your data directly into Quicken using OFX (the newest, bestest way to automatically download into Quicken). I once had to write an OFX server - it is not that hard. This seems like a no brainer. It would be an incentive for Quicken customers to become PayTrust customers and an incentive to PayTrust customers to become Quicken customers. Intuit wins and Intuit wins! We customers win too.
  3. Apparently there is no way to way to see the MEMO field on checks once you have submitted them. This is silly, storing the MEMO field would only take like an extra 30 bytes per payment. The MEMO field should be available on all reports.
  4. The PayTrust end-of-year CD is based on proprietary, windows-based software for viewing the encrypted data. Instead PayTrust should encrypt the data on the CD using a commonly available format like ZIP so that anyone on any platform at anytime can access (and copy) their data directly. PayTrustExport solves this problem, but it would still be nice if they would do it the right way and made PayTrustExport obsolete.

There are also a few small usability changes that I'd make to the website that could save users (read me) countless hours, but I don't want to nitpick.

If you work for PayTrust or Intuit, please, please, please get in touch with me to talk about these issues. I'd be willing to do the work to implement these changes for you for FREE, just so that I could get the benefits from them. You'd make me and all your other customers so happy, and ultimately have a much more valuable service to sell.

Does PayTrustExport work on Linux/OSX/BeOS/QNX/AmegaDOS/CPM/My Cell Phone?

The RUNME.BAT batch file will probably only work on Windows XP/Vista and similar systems, so the easiest thing for you to do would be to borrow/rent a Windows computer for a few minutes and use it to export the data off your PayTrust CD. You can then copy the resulting files onto your non-Windows computer and happily use them forever. You could even copy them onto your webserver so that anyone on the internet could view them.

If your religion completely prohibits you from using Windows computers even for a few minutes, the PayTrustExport program itself should be able to run on any platform that supports Java 1.3 or better. If you've been able to figure out how to live using only Linux, you'll almost certainly be able to get PayTrustExport running on your machine. If not, let me know and I'll try to help.

How come when I click on the extracted versions of some of my bills, I get a File Not Found error?

This PayTrust had a problem downloading some HTML bills- in my case from Verizon. Unfortunately it looks like the way they decided to deal with this problem was to just ignore it, so these bills are all missing from the CD. This is not a problem with PayTrustExport- if you use the PayTrust view software (or even the PayTrust website) you'll get the same error. Booo on you, PayTrust, I really needed archival copies of those bills since I don't get paper ones any more.

How do I get support for PayTrustExport?

There is no official support for PayTrustExport, but I'll certainly try to help you if you are having problems with the program. Email me at this address...

You'll have to type it in exactly as it appears above.

Updates

2/8/2006 - Initial posting.

2/26/2006 - Program now generates some simple HTML pages that make it possible to directly browse your bills and payees. I also removed the source files -contact me if you need them.

3/1/2007 - Added the question about File Not Found errors from HTML bills. Changed "XP" to "XP/VISTA" since PayTrustExport works on Vista no problem.

11/12/2008 - Changed step #5 in the instructions to have you run the batch file from a command prompt rather than double clicking it. Some people were having path problems so the double click would get an error finding the "main" in the JAR file. Running from a command prompt should always work regardless of how the machine is set up.

1/26/2011 - Just checked and everything still works with my Win7 machine using the latest Java! Hooray!

9/4/2011 -  It appears that PayTrustExport also works with CDs from MyEZBills, which appears to be a rebranded copy of the PayTrust site.

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