DA Archive Cannot Save New Searches

The General Problem: On Friday my DA archive began to malfunction. Specifically, on Thursday new searches and pages would save to the archive as per usual, and show up in the archive window and in the archive count of groups and items, but then when I quit DA, came back on Friday and re-started the program, my archive did not show any of the pages and searches I had a saved on Thursday. This problem has continued for the past three days despite my efforts (although the rest of the DA program functions normally).

The Particular Attributes of My Problem: My DA archive retains all of its other functions, so that new search items are saved to the archive when the program is opened, but if DA is closed and re-opened, the new items are lost and I am back to the archive count that I had on Thursday. It does not matter whether I save an entire search, or just selected items, to the archive, they are still lost once the program is closed. Interestingly, if I delete long-time previously-saved items from the archive (i.e., search pages which were there before Thursday), they are appropriately deleted from the archive window, but then the program is closed and re-opened, and magically the deleted items re-appear. The archive will successfully export HTML pages to my documents folder on my hard drive, so that I can save my new items outside of DA before I close the program. And I have no difficulty adding my new search results to my DTPro database, as long as I don’t close DA and lose them first!

When I check my iMac’s Library/Application/ Support/DEVONagent archive folder, the Get Info query command reports that the archive is modified with each day’s work, even though with program restart the DA archive window still shows the same set of groups and items saved as I had on Thursday, with no new items added. And in fact, if I perform repeated searches without closing the program, using Internet(Fast Scan) with the same search term and settings as usual, the items which I have during that session saved to the archive are filtered out and not displayed-- apparently, as it should, DA ‘knows’ that I saved those pages already.

My search and filter settings have not changed during these three days, nor have any other aspects of my software or hardware been altered (iMac PowerPC G4, Mac OS X 10.4.11, DA 2.3). I cleared the DA cache, it made no difference. I ran an update of my anti-virus software (Norton) and everything came back clean. I ran a scan for corrupted files and that also came back clean. I used an updated version of my disk utility (Spring Cleaning) and did a fix Permissions, and still the DA archive will not save new searches or search items. I have deleted my old copy of DA, downloaded a new copy of DA and installed it, and I still have the same problem.

Could someone please suggest a possible diagnosis and a likely solution?! I would much appreciate.

It’s possible that there’s an error in your Read & Write permissions for the DEVONagent Archive files. You can check the permissions at ~/Application Support/DEVONagent/ by selecting the appropriate folder or file and opening the Info panel. In Tiger, look for the heading Ownership & Permissions. In Leopard look for the heading Sharing & Permissions.

If you do not have Read & Write permission DEVONagent will be unable to write to that folder or file. To edit permissions click on the lock and enter your administrative password, then edit permissions appropriately.

Back in the days of OS 7 I used Norton’s programs and they worked well. But the company has changed and I’ve been skeptical of Norton Anti-Virus ever since OS X emerged. I wouldn’t install it on my own computers, both from a doubt as to the need to do so, and from reviewing the numerous problems created by the Norton programs in recent years.

One of the problems in using third party utilities is that they may break when Apple introduces an OS X or Security update. It’s often necessary to stop using them after an update, or even to uninstall all of their components, and monitor the developer’s site for an update compatible with the current version of OS X. In some cases, continued use of an incompatible disk maintenance or anti-virus utility can damage the operating system and/or disk directory.

Re permissions: My DA folder in Application Support has an Archive Folder, a file labeled DEVONagent.lock, four plist files (Archive.plist, History.plist, SearchSets.plist & WebHistory.plist), and contains three DEVONagent database files (DEVONagent-1.database, -2.database & -3.database). I reviewed them once again, and the Information Panel permissions for all of them are correct, listing me as having both read and write permission. If there is a permissions error occurring, it’s not apparent from the Info Panel.

Re the anti-virus & disk utility software: The Norton program was only loaded onto the computer after my DEVONagent archive problem began. Spring Cleaning was present before this problem began, and I did an online upgrade to use the most recent version, but the DA Archive’s failure to save was not changed with either the older or more recent version.

Ah ha! Something must have happened on your computer to potentially threaten your Archive files, so DEVONagent protected them by putting in that lock file.

If your operating system and disk directory are in good order, simply delete the file named DEVONagent_lock and you should be able to add new content to the Archive.

But check once in a while for reappearance of that lock file. If it shows up again, something on your computer is threatening data integrity.

This _lock file is being put in by DEVONagent when it is opened and is removed when closed. When DEVONagent crashes (or a library that it uses) then it sometimes happens that this file is not removed. As Bil said, trash this file and you’re done.

The _lock file is listed in the aforesaid Archive folder when DEVONagent is opened, but when I close DEVONagent, the _lock file disappears from the Archive folder.

On several tests today I trashed the _lock file when the program was activated. Nevertheless, the basic problem remains: I can perform searches and add the contents-- selected or in toto-- to the DEVONagent Archive, but when the program is closed and then re-opened, the previously-saved items are not present in the Archive. For some reason, new items cannot be saved when the program is closed (ergo, the size and contents of the DA archive are fixed and cannot be altered), and so upon re-opening the program, nothing from the previous activation of DA is saved.

The info pane lists the _lock file as itself locked under “Ownership and Permissions.” I will unlock it and also try to strip down my installed software to see if there is a specific file which is somehow causing the DA program to ‘freeze’ the archive. Thx for the info so far.

I deleted some files and now DA is able to save the items and searches I add to the Archive within DA.

First I opened up the DEVONagent application and sequentially deleted all the items and groups from the Archive window (previously I had exported the ones I need to a Finder folder for HTML files). Looking within DEVONagent, the Archive window then showed no groups or items in the window, but the Archive heading reported that there were 70 items still present. For whatever reason, I could not see any evidence of these 70 ‘invisible’ items in the window.

Next, with DA still open, I went to the Mac OS Finder window and moved the Archive.plist and the DEVONagent-* files from the DEVONagent Archive folder (the one within the DEVONagent folder in Application Support). Then I selected and trashed all the remaining folders within that same Archive folder, leaving it empty when viewed in the Mac OS finder.

Then I closed the DEVONagent program and noted that in the Finder, again no items were listed in the Archive folder, and no _lock folder was left remaining in the Archive folder.

I reopened DEVONagent and the changes to the archive had been saved: no groups or items were visible in the Archive window, and the mysterious ‘70 items’ were not listed as present in the DA archive. This was an improvement over what had been the problem since last week.

Then I ran a short search, saved it to the DA archive, and again closed the DA program. In the Finder Archive folder, new folders were present. I re-opened DEVONagent and the newly-added search items had been saved to the DA archive and were still present after the program had been closed and re-opened.

I don’t know why these group and item deletions returned the DA program to functionality, but I’m happy to be back in business. I’ll post again if this problem recurs.

Possibly an error in writing one of those .plist files to disk. A cosmic ray passing though RAM and twiddling bits in memory, a power fluctuation, a funky sector on the hard drive, a gremlin. Errors can happen. Most Macs don’t have error-correcting RAM, and even that’s not perfect.

I’m glad Time Machine makes backups easy.