Backup/Export Best Practices

New Devonthink user. Am moving content over and really like the setup (previously had used OneNote as store all before it was cloud only, and more recently using Synology drive with oct’ed pdfs, so devonthink is so much more powerful).

From reading forum posts and the quick start guide my current setup is Devonthink imported all of my files, and the only folder that I index is my obsidian folder (which is in iCloud so it syncs to my iPhone/iPad). While the CloudKit sync worked well, I ended up setting up my Synology 918 to run a webdav server and using this for sync (I see multiple posts where this seems to be a more stable solution, please correct me if I am wrong). I predominantly highlight pdf on iPad, add content from iOS/iPad, really only use the Mac sparingly but know I will need to boot it up a bit more frequently for sync now.

With regards to backup and exporting I have a few questions. (I am a complete beginner with devonthink so I appreciate all help!)

For backup, can I just copy my devonthink webdav on my Synology to an offsite location (I am thinking about setting a nightly 3AM folder sync of this to one drive and my offsite Synology so I have 2 copies). I believe this should remain encrypted since it is just copying the encrypted file.

I would also like to keep a copy of the raw files in a normal folder structure, which I believe the Export command does. This would like me in a non-remote accessible share on my Synology in case something ever happens to the database would at least have the files all accounted for and accessible until the database can be rebuilt. Can this only be done from the Mac? Is there anyway to do this from the Synology directly (maybe this is something that might warrant devonthink server to give this ability)? Is there any easy way to automate this. This seems like it doesn’t need to be done daily, but maybe weekly or monthly seems like a good way to go.

Is there a reference for what metadata is maintained for exported files (aka tags)? Depending on what is “attached to native file” vs what is in devonthink I may adjust where I put data.

Thank you all. As a new user the forum has proven very helpful so far, but devonthink is such a powerful tool and it is a bit overwhelming as I dive in.

I think you’re referring to the sync-store on your webdav server
If you have corrupted files in the DT database, can you describe your restore process?

It’s better to backup the DT databases themselve
I also backup the folders&files from an export of the DT database (i.e the “raw files”)

Is there a reference for what metadata is maintained for exported files (aka tags)?

Confirmed; DT tags are exported as file tags
The group structure is replicated as file folder structure

edit; I’ve only tested the file tags on Mac and IOS

Yes the “sync-store” would be the file that would be on the Synology web-dav. I am asking if I should be backing this up or not (and I’m assuming by your asking me what to do with corrupted files the restore process would not work). So my assumption is I need to manually go in and run a “export database” on each of my database? From when I run this database it puts it in the database archive file. Should I just go to show contents and then manually copy that backup to my Synology NAS to keep off site copy or is there a better way to do this.

And thank you, the export files and folders I can just do weekly then and will use tags more if they maintain to file.

This depends on the file system you’re exporting to, though. OneDrive, for example, removes some metadata.

Why focus on exports? why not use TimeMachine (to Synology NAS if you prefer) and supplement with making the archive zip files that DEVONthink will make on demand (or automate it)?

I recall there is a whole section in the outstanding “DEVONthink Handbook” on backup. i am not at my computer to get a page number for you. Best to take a look before going much further. And while there see what other goodies they may let you know about.


I plan to do this. I do frequently use synology native apps remotely and PC frequently and like the idea of incremental exports so files are accessible outside of DEVONthink. But as in my post I am new to this world and asking for help as I move over as I see all the benefits devonthink brings.

I started there before the post and it just says keep “databases” file in incremental backup and if you want to manually to do the file → export database as in initial post.

I suppose I can just do a time machine backup of the database folder to my synology, and then manually do a weekly file-> export database and file → export files and folders which is probably enough to get me where I need to be.

Was hoping there might be a way to have this sync automatically on my synology, but based on some of the comments I wonder if duplicating my “sync share” on WebDAV nightly may somehow screw up the database?

that is what indexed files are for.

Frankly do not see the point. These files are used only by DEVONthink and unless you can figure out what they are then useless to you.

Pardon my ignorance, I think I am misunderstanding.

But if I am trying to view the files on my synology NAS (say from a windows PC) I am not able to from the sync store as the files are encrypted, thus not giving me access to the indexed files?

What I am trying to achieve is the above (Aka files in folders on the NAS accessible from windows if I desire remotely).

the indexed files remain outside of DEVONthink and are accessible if they are accessible. nothing to do with DEVONthink.

While you can backup a sync store, the thing you should be more concerned about is backing up the database. Personally, I don’t backup any sync stores except incidentally with local sync stores I’m testing.

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Gotcha. I think I was confused on what that meant. Sounds like maintaining a file structure and indexing them solves that issue, and then allows me to backup that folder structure with the NAS more easily without risk to the database.


I cannot think of any reason for mear mortals unlike you @BLUEFROG to backup the sync store. am i naive?

Makes sense. Thanks

If you have local sync stores on your Mac or an external, there’s no harm in it. But any real use of it would be outliers.

Perhaps it does, provided you’ve read and understood the In & Out > Importing & Indexing section of the Help. :slight_smile:

My reasons are
. access to my data independent of Devonthink
. restore selected corrupted/lost files directly without doing a whole database load thing

To achieve “Backup/Export Best Practices” I think you are heading in an erroneous direction. Up to you, though.

For this, index the files into DEVONthink. The files are not in DEVONthink and you can do with them what you want. Read about that in the “DEVONthink Manual”

If you indexed files, then you can and must restore any of those files lost or corrupted by your own means independent of DEVONthink. If you lose or otherwise corrupt imported files, then that means the database is corrupted and you will have to do the “database load thing”.