Okay, I recently purchased the latest copy of DEVONthink several days ago. I put a small amount of work on it. I copied the application program along with the DEVONthink database files and backup files, and I placed these onto a zip disk. Then I restarted my G4 having switched over to a different hard drive (to simulate using another computer). [The purpose of this simulution is that I always carry a couple zip disks of my work with me at all times in case there’s ever a fire, computer crash, earthquake, etc, etc. That way, I haven’t lost my work because its on the zip disk and can pickup right where I left off].

Anyway, after having started up on a different drive, I slip the zip disk into the zip drive, clicked on the DEVONthink application program and the work that I had done was gone, even though the DEVONthink database files and the backup files were on the zip disk. It’s as if DEVONthink didn’t see this information, and I couldn’t figure out how to make DEVONthink to access them either!

However, when I rebooted up in the original drive, DEVONthink saw all the files and I could see all the work I’ve done. What good is it to back up on a zip drive if you can’t access your data on a different computer? (Especially if your hard drive should crash, or if you want to take some work home with you to work on?)

  • Russell

Obviously there’s no answer to this Backup Problem concerning the DT 1.9.1. What a waste of $40.00. That’s not the worse part, I have to reconvert (and update) all my work back over to NotePadDeluxe. DT 1.9.1 has cost me 1 1/2 days of wasted conversion time and now I have to spend at least another day to go back to NotePadDeluxe. Sorry guys, DT 1.9.1 is a brillant concept, but without any way to access to the backed up database files (even by its own DT 1.9.1 program), that makes this a very dangerous program to be using. The first time a person has a hard drive failure and they go to pull up their “so-called-backup files” they’re going to be in for a surprise. I just thank Jesus I discovered this problem early on and not months or years later.


What backup nightmare? From the title of the post, I thought something had gone wrong. But nothing did go wrong. :slight_smile:

When you started up DEVONthink from the Zip disk (after having booted from a different volume or computer), DEVONthink looked for a database where it expected to find it – but there was no database at the designated address!

Actually, you can repeat your experiment with the Zip disk and make it work. Here’s how:

[1] Boot from another partition under OS X 10.3, or from another Mac with OS X 10.3 and launch DT PE 1.9.1. DT still won’t see the database that sits alongside it on the Zip disk. That’s OK; DT is behaving properly. CLOSE DEVONthink (that’s important).

[2] Copy the DEVONthink folder that contains your database from the Zip disk to the Volume/Users/yourusername/Library/Application Support folder (that’s were DT expects to find your database).

[3] Now launch DT. If you still don’t see your database, select File > New Browser. Now you should see the database.


I really don’t recommend running a database on a Zip disk, because Zip disks are slow, unreliable (compared to a hard drive), and too small to hold the size of database files you will probably have after a few months of use. (It would take 20 or more 100 MB Zip disks just to hold the files in my own DT database.)
Nor do I recommend running the DT PE application off the Zip disk, for reasons of speed and reliability. Note that when DT PE is launched, it will create a new, default preference file on the host volume or drive, but it won’t find its own registration plist file, and so will operate in demo mode. Best to copy the DT app to the host Applications folder for the experiment or migration.

Anyway, I think you can see now how to migrate your database to a new computer. Note: Your DT license allows you to install it on more than one computer, so long as you do not run the computers concurrently.

And, I think you can now figure out how to set up your desktop and PowerBook to run the same DT database on a portable FireWire drive, so that you can move between the two computers with the same database. (Same setting on database location for both machines.) Note that there would be limitations in this approach – no external links to files, keeping preferences the same on both machines, possible glitches in which windows open when moving between machines, etc. And, a portable FireWire drive may be slower than the internal drives on your two computers. More possibilities of things going wrong (such as dropping the portable drive, or having it stolen), so a greater need to make backups. (It’s easier to do this in DT Pro.) :slight_smile:

Bill, your awesome! I never would have saw that in a million years. It works!

And Bill, in case you see this reply, I want you to know where I went wrong. Instead of swapping the files out as you had suggested, I was searching for a way to access the files on the zip disk from the TOOL BAR of DEVONthink 1.9.1, and this is where I was running into a wall. Thanks again!

P.S. - Now I gotta reverse course “again” and reinstall everything into DEVONthink - lol Oh well, I think it’ll be worth it (especially now that I can access the DEVONthink 1.9.1 database files that I backup).

Thanks Bill!

  • Russell

Just a final note - you can copy the folder ~/Library/Application Support/DEVONthink to any destination (e.g. a server, removable media, external drives etc.) if you replace the above folder with an alias pointing to the new destination.