Backup of encrypted database: best practices

What is the best way to back up Devonrhink databases? I have all the databases encrypted. I already use Arq for remote backup. I would also like to use time machine for a backup on a hard disk. The main question is: is it better to back up an encrypted or decrypted database? The second question is: is it possible to incrementally back up an encrypted database (I guess this is stupid? After that, advice on the best way to make backups will be welcome. Thank you

Backup up encrypted data is worth thinking about. I believe encrypted databases are actually in an encrypted container in the form of an encrypted disk image. The database itself is not encrypted, it’s in an encrypted revetment.

If the sync store is encrypted, such as an encrypted file system on a thumb drive, all your synced databases are protected.

Stuff to consider.

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Sparse bundles are always copied in an encrypted state as far as I can tell; so regardless of whether your database is open (unencrypted) or closed (encrypted), copying it will result in a closed (encrypted) copy. You can test this for yourself: copy an open database to another location on your hard drive, and then try to view the contents of the sparse bundle; you will be asked for your password. (I’m happy to be corrected, but as far as I can tell, that’s the way it works).

Independent of encryption, it would seem reasonable to keep backups of closed databases, as that is a “steady state”. I use both Arc and Time Machine to back up my databases, and I make sure to intentionally close them so they are backed up in a closed state at least occasionally.

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@Blanc is correct that both a .sparseimage or .dtSparse file are both encrypted so it should be fine to backup open or closed. However, I would suggest you consider your backup schedule and how often you’re doing backups. For example, I am doing one daily incremental at 21:00 when I’m almost always not using DEVONthink. At this point, DEVONthink and its databases can be closed or at least not in active use.

@BLUEFROG How do you perform a automatic daily incremental backup of an encrypted database in devonthink?

I currently use Carbon Copy Cloner for my backups with no special settings in the backup.


Also see the section in Help “A Word about Backups” which is also in the outstanding “DEVONthink Handbook”, page 19 of 3.8.3 version.

I rely on TimeMachine to multiple devices, scheduled (cron) run of the DEVONthink script to Archive, a scheduled ChronoSync task to copy the DEVONthink databases to USB disk once a week, and Backblaze for offsite backups. Perhaps over the top, but I don’t care.


Thanks guys! I think I´m going to try to set up a automatic back-up plan with CCC, since it seems to be the most simple and robust way for me.

You’re welcome :slight_smile:
I do also have Time Machine backups on some Macs but CCC is faster and has more options and I wanted to explore it to see if I could professionally advocate it to you all as well as benefit personally.