Damaged file and lost backups

I have one DTPro db that I cannot open – every time I try, and in every way I try, it will freeze the application and I have to use Force Quit. I have checked all my other db files and they are OK and cause no problems with the application. I tried opening it with File:Open Database, File:Open Recent, and by doubleclicking on the file in Finder and the same thing happens.

I opened a copy of the file I saved to an external drive, and it does the same thing – freezes the application. This is very strange, because I used the original file without problems since I saved the copy, so how could the copy be corrupt?

It gets stranger:

In my Preferences, I had Backup Weekly checked. Even though I back up my internal drive to an external drive on a regular basis, (with Retrospect) I had this preference checked in DTPro as insurance. However, I can’t find ANY backups! Zip, zero, nada. I looked in the folder where I keep all my DTPro files; not there. I looked in the DTPro Application folder, I looked in username/Library/Application Support; nothing. [I didn’t pay attention to where they were before because I saved to the external drive regularly; now seems to be a total blind spot on my part.]

Just to check this, I opened a file that is OK, and clicked Tools:Backup and Optimize. Then I asked Spotlight to find the backup. I searched on name, searched on date, searched on dtBase – it doesn’t exist. If I go to Tools:Restore Backup, it will show me two files, one called Backup, one called Backup.0 A query with Spotlight says Backup.0 does not exist. Hello? DTPro tells me it made a backup, Finder says it doesn’t exist anywhere.


  1. Where are my Backups?

  2. Is there any way to repair/restore a db file that I can’t open?

This is particularly upsetting because just to be safe, I kept duplicates of every file in DTPro in the Finder as well (I kept them synced). Not too long ago, I started trusting DTPro and stopped doing that – to my great regret at the moment! I will have lost some important material if I can’t restore this db.

While waiting for an answer, I kept trying this and that:

In Finder, I selected the damaged file and clicked on “Show Package Contents”.

I copied the ten individual DEVONthink-x.database files and the Settings.plist into a new folder. [I did not copy the Folders named Backup and Backup.0.]

I ran Verify and it said everything was OK.

I have no idea why this worked, or what was wrong, but I am very glad to have my data back!

when I read your first pot, I had the impression you already did this, so I thought, I could not help, must be a hard disc error or something like that. But what you describe here is most essential. I appreciate that you tell others that the problem is solved, but what if you had done a little Search on this Forum before posting a horror like lost files and backups? There are several posts where people discuss the location of backups and their usage from within the Finder.
Hope you enjoy DT now,


Well, before I wrote in I did do a variety of searches both in Help as well as here on the forum.

However, no matter how I phrased the query I couldn’t find out how to repair a file I couldn’t open. All of the items in the Tools Menu llike Restore Backup, are grayed out unless the file is already open.The location of the backups was a secondary problem – one that only appeared when I couldn’t find a way to open a previous, undamaged copy of the file.

In DTPro Help, it says the backups will be in the “database folder/package”, (also referred to in a few Forum posts), but unless you know what a “package” is, and know to use the Finder command “Show Package Contents” you are lost with that information. When I searched Help for “package”, it says what is in it, (and how to use it to change a name or something), not how to use it to solve a problem like this.

So once I had the “package” open I didn’t know what to do with what I saw – clicking on one of the Backup folders didn’t work. So I just took a wild guess and moved all the files (but not the Backup folders) into a new folder, gave it a new name with the ext .dtBase. I was actually amazed (and very pleased) that this worked, but it was a complete stab in the dark.

If the specific information about how to do this is posted somewhere in the Forum, or exists in Help, I completely missed it despite hours of looking.

This seems to be another of those cases where people who are totally familiar with a program don’t understand what someone who isn’t that knowledgeable will see, understand, etc. Many of you may know what a “package” is, but in all my ignorance, I didn’t – still don’t, for that matter. And since you “scolded” me for asking a question here, I went and looked again and still haven’t found anything that would specifically tell me what to do in this case.

I thought this was what a forum was for – to help you learn about the program and avoid hours of frustration trying to solve a problem when you are clearly in over your head. I certainly didn’t think I was posting a “horror” story, since so many other people write in with questions about far less complicated problems.

I will certainly continue to use DTPro – I was using DTPersonal before the betas for DTPro came out and it is terrific to work with something that is under active development, even when there are occasional problems like this. I learn more about it all the time, and am always grateful for the help I get here in the Forum.


I understand you did a lot of effort before asking here, and I am sorry if you feel I “scolded” you. I just thought that people using OS X know what a package is. And you are welcome to ask any question.

My advice: Read Bill deVille’s posts about about data backups and system management, there is a lot to learn from for most of us.



You said, “I just thought that people using OS X know what a package is.”

I am, of course, familiar with a package used as an installer for new software, but I am not familiar with how packages are used by DTPro.

I would like to know more and will search the forum again for what Bill has to say on the subject. If you know of a site on line that provides a good explanation of how a package is used for database management, please let me know.


I do not know any informative web sites and just learned about Mac OS X while using it. As for packages: they are not only used for installing software. Packages are basically a bunch of files in one folder, which Mac OS makes you believe is a single file. Some applications like CP Notebook store their data in packages: You look at the icon in the finder and believe it is a single file, but when you ctrl-click you get the option “Open Package”, then you get into a whole folder structure and find many single files. The same with the DT file, which is a large package, and the same with all applications, they are a bunch of files as well. Just try with application icons and with the DT package. If you then look through Bill’s posts about backup recoverage etc., you should learn a lot from that.

Best, Maria