A question concerning MANUAL & INEXPENSIVE DTP3 backups

So you have only data on it that you do not need?

Your reasoning is flawed. Not only since flash floods might not permit you to grab anything except hopefully your life, as @Blanc pointed out. The same holds true for fire, and there’s certainly not only “electrical fire” risks. And then there’s spilled milk, coffee, soft drinks (over your Mac and your only backup drive), burglary or even simple hard drive failure

You definitely want several independent backup locations. Unless your data is really so worthless that you do not need it, but then why invest in a computer and a hard disk in the frst place?


A different risk, which I address with Mac Time Machine (local storage)
Or a cloud equivalent (offsite storage); I’m looking at Arq Premium

Thank you so much, @rfog, for clearing this issue up for me! I can now confidently say that I’m using scenario #1 to get my files into the DTP3 database and my records are “Imported” and not “Indexed”. I feel like I’m slowly catching on here!

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@rfog… this is super helpful! I can’t thank everyone enough for their help and contributions to this post :pray: My data will be backed up and safe before the end of my work day!


My data will be backed up and safe before the end of my work day!

We are all very glad to hear this!

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@MsLogica Thank you for your comment. I think we are in a very similar situation. I’ve had DT for just over 1 year and, I’m embarrassed to admit, I’ve never backed up the database. Not once. I went paperless for my small business a few years back and I really rushed into the project without much planning or thought. I know, really stupid, but that’s the honest truth. Anyway, knock on wood, I’ve been fortunate and haven’t had any computer issues. I initially started using a program on my existing PC called Sohodox and then I switched over to a MacBook & selected DT for my “paperless office” software. My New Year’s resolution for 2022 was to find an inexpensive way to backup my DT database and files. That’s why I started this post. Anyway, I’m not opposed to backing up locally to an external drive and I did consider that as an option at first. However, I do worry about physical threats destroying my hardware. I’m in the US and, in the past year alone, my area has experienced wildfires & flooding. I’ve also seen an increase in smash & grab thefts. This is all very concerning. I finally came to the conclusion that, if I’m already paying for iCloud, why not just save a copy of my backup there and then travel to and from work with my laptop. In that scenario, my hardware stays with me and my backup is safely stored in MacWorldLand. At the same time, I do agree with the comments made by @cgrunenberg & @chrillek. I realize my current solution is very far from perfect. But… it’s an inexpensive start. I’m learning more and not sure if it will work, but maybe my next step will be to save a copy of my backup to a usb thumb drive and hide that somewhere in the office? Who knows… but I’m definitely eager to make backing up a priority in 2022.

Some general practice guidelines for thinking about back up and data protection, not specific to DevonThink. (Some hyperbole to follow, as that’s how data recovery people get the data careless to consider stepping up)

  • If your data doesn’t exist in a MINIMUM of two geographic locations, it might as well not exist at all. Three is better.
  • if it doesn’t exist a minimum of two kinds of storage, (hard drive, USB stick, cloud, LTO tape) it might as well not exist at all. Three is better.
  • consider the 4 kinds of failure and how they can affect where you have your data and how fast you can get back to work. There’s some overlap and grey areas but these help people think about it all
  1. Human failure - you delete something that you shouldn’t have
  2. Software failure - software does something unintended and working data is lost or corrupted beyond repair, spilled soft drink
  3. Hardware failure - hard drives die, hard wired SSD’s inside glued down circuit boards (oh hello Apple!) die, logic boards crap out, spilled soft drink
  4. Natural system failure - flood, sprinkler, fire, earthquake, etc.

I guide clients to try a little catastrophizing and think of the worst thing that could overcome their current system of data backups. Then it’s a matter of guiding them slowly to figuring out their preferred balance between spending all their time backing up whilst worrying about worst case scenarios versus doing no backups and worrying about almost any scenario. One option comes with a lot more free time but could have a horrendous endgame. In the other, no work gets done other than backing up.
If you’re covered for all 4 failures and made specific allowances for what kind of data you have and how much of it there is, you should find yourself covered for almost anything.

Spare a thought for tv/film production and radio astronomy people who can generate terabytes a day.


Any comment on cloud storage as a location?
The cloud is the offsite component of my backup strategy

no magic.

if it is the synced files of Mac and cloud server, then any inadvertent file loss or corruption on either the server or Mac, the flaw is likely then replicated on next sync causing you to lose the backup you thought you had.

if it is a “snapshot” backup copy, say a zip of an important folder structure, that is stored on the offsite cloud server and not synched, then better off. still though need to confirm file arrives at destination unchanged.

My vote is for snapshot/incremental backups ala Time Machine and Arq
When necessary, I can recover a specific version (date/time) of the data

Until I moved to DT I didn’t really have anything on my Mac. My employers use gDrive and OneDrive (I have two employers), I used several apps that had their own cloud services, I kept a few things on Dropbox and I have an iCloud subscription for anything else. I also kept a lot of my notes in actual notebooks. I didn’t really store anything locally as there was no need. Even my desktop syncs to my iCloud.

One of my reasons for moving to DT was that I was getting a bit fed up of having to rummage across all these services and remember where I saved stuff (as I do similar jobs for both employers, this can be especially maddening if I can’t remember what task I was doing when I interacted with a file). The downside of this was that I’m deliberately pulling files back on to a local drive. At first I ignored the downside, but people mention backups on here quite a lot so I thought I’d best put a system in place just in case!

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and if that is what is stored as backup on a cloud server, then great.

so many though consider their synched cloud folders as backup. i don’t.

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Cloud storage is, usually, going to mean data is in a different geographic location and for simple files it works almost like real offsite storage. But it collapses pretty quickly, as DevonThink support will attest, when you deal with active databases, growing video files and a number of other special cases highlighted in this forum and elsewhere. Backblaze has similar problems in that it doesn’t back up every single byte of data, specifically metadata. As noted for DevonThink databases, it works well enough if you zip your backups before you move them to the cloud. Trial runs of restoring from backup should be done with some regularity.
So yes, the cloud could be part of a system but not the only part of an offsite storage system. As Google Drive and now MS OneDrive users will attest, you’re not in control if your cloud provider changes how their software works with your data.

Despite what we all might wish, backing up is more of a psychological exercise than a quantifiable technical one, at least when it comes to consulting people on best practices.
I hate being that guy but I am frequently forced to answer “well, it depends” when asked “What should I be doing?”
I have run film editing rigs where there can be no down time of the system which means copies of verified system drives and constant backing up of original footage, with copies going out the door constantly. That’s more data transfer than most people have to deal with but it highlights the cost calculation someone made to have an editor sit around while a tech installs software on a new drive or waiting for a replacement system to show up.

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Of the four threats, isn’t the one of a ransomware attack still missing? I have 7 databases running with a total of 125 GB and I am thinking about creating an immutable backup on Wasabi with Arq. However, I don’t know exactly what volume of data will be loaded onto Wasabi if I change one file per day in each of the 7 databases. Will an additional 125 GB be created immutable for the duration of the lock? So with a daily backup and a lock duration of 30 days, a data volume of 30 x 125 GB?

Sure, although I guess you could count that as the fifth failure i.e. a moral failure, on the part of the antagonist.
To pick up on your word choice though, I make a distinction between threat and failure because threats require a willful antagonist and are not inevitable and they necessitate a different behaviour from you and your IT department, while a failure is guaranteed to happen somewhere, somehow.
Both things require preparedness but the psychological and social assessments you have to do are different.

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Have you compared costs for cloud storage?
I’m going for the 1TB at US$59.99/year with Arq Premium
(includes the app license fee)

Also a comment on “Manual”; I prefer Automatic
Time Machine backup is automatic, running ever hour with incremental backups
Arq backup is automatic, running ever hour with incremental backups

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I concur, also using Arc, where cloud storage is quite inexpensive. Also, iCloud is not particularly well known for reliability and speed (note the diplomatic wording).


Curses on the lot of you :grinning:—no. not really…! I am a ruthless “backer-up”: nightly to an SSD using Carbon Copy Cloner and weekly to a hard disk using Time Machine—plus weekly export of each of my DEVONthink databases to a database archive. However…off-site has been notably fitful (through lack of any suitable off-site location). You have all succeeded in imbuing in me a growing sense of panic <sigh>.

There’s just too much on my MacBook Pro of value—it’s crept on to it barely noticed as time has passed: years of trancribed diaries (all now lovingly curated in DEVONthink), years of photos, huge classical music downloads, AppleScript that my aging brain will never be able to re-create…

OK, you did it: I’ve just downloaded Arq and am trying the free trial (including the free trial of Arq Premium) and I already think I know what’s going to happen at the end of the trial—if not before.

Of course, this post may not make the forum—uploads are a little congested just at the moment. :grinning:



I cannot remember the details now, but I once wrote advice for students, some of whom would plead, as mitigation for not handing in their work, “my pendrive/laptop was stolen”, “my file became unreadable” … . It was to think about the risks, and what types of backup would provide insurance against different risks. It began with something like:

  1. There is a power cut while you are editing your file and it gets corrupted

  2. You accidentally erase a file you later need

  3. Your hard disk fails and becomes unreadable
    4 . Your laptop is stolen

  4. Your computer picks up a virus

    m. Your house burns down

    n. Nuclear war in Europe

The simplest and cheapest is surely, as people have said, an external HDD and Time Machine. That covers 1-3 but if the virus can access the external drive, it might not cover 5 and above. Maybe two external HDDs solves that (Time machine handles backups to multiple external drives very easily). It will remind you, “HDDn has not been backed up for 25 days” even if another HDD was backed up 5 minutes ago.) If one of them is stored in another building (a neighbour or your home if you are in the office) then it solves the house fire as well. Risk n probably means storing a copy the other side of the world.

The frequency with which you do various backups clearly depends on the cost of replacing the data.


I use the cloud; offsite and at least another part of the country
Time Machine doesn’t back up to the cloud so I use a third party alternative

Got me thinking where is “the other side of the world”
I found the answer at https://www.antipodesmap.com/