Data loss

I’ve just performed an automatic upgrade of DEVONthink from 2.0.9 to 2.1. When the DEVONthink relaunched, all my data was lost. The database is totally empty.

How could this happen? How can I recuperate my data?

Please help! I’ve got years of data archived in DEVONthink.



I doubt that the update itself resulted in database damage.

Are you certain that a view window of the database is open? If not, choose File > New Window. If you still don’t see yout data, try this:

  1. Choose in the menubar Tools > Restore Backup. Discussion: This procedure exchanges the current state of the database with a previous state as of the time the internal backup was made. The procedure is a reversible one; conducting it on the same internal Backup folder once more will return the database to the original state. (By default, there are three internal Backup folders, Backup, Backup0 and Backup1. The first always contains the most recent backup. The schedule of internal backups can be set in Preferences > Backup; a good choice is ‘daily’.)

  2. Select the most recent of the internal Backup folders and run the procedure.

If you now see your groups and documents, the Restore Backup procedures has returned it to a working state.

However, IMMEDIATELY run Tools > Verify & Repair to check for errors.

If there are no errors, run Tools > Backup and Optimize to save the restored database state and to optimize the storage of the files (which can often result in a speed improvement).

If you had added documents to the database after the backup had been made, those documents will not be available in the groups in which they had been placed. However, after running Verify & Repair, those documents will be recovered and placed into a new Orphans group, ready for filing.

If Verify & Repair reports errors, try running it again to see if a subsequent run will correct the errors. If there are unrecoverable errors (other than a possible report of orphan files), REPEAT step 1), choosing the next most recent internal Backup folder in step 2).

If all goes well you should have a good working copy of your database.

Comments about a good backup strategy: Never assume that your data is adequately protected, even with those internal backups, if the only copy of your database is on your computer’s hard drive. What if your hard drive were to fail?

You don’t need to buy backup software.

A) Apple includes Time Machine, a pretty good backup system, as a component in OS X. You do need an external drive, however, which should be larger than your internal drive to store your drive’s contents and then incremental backups of your files over time. Big hard drives are pretty cheap nowadays.

I do most of my own work on a laptop, and don’t have Time Machine running all the time. But after I’ve made significant changes to my databases I’ll close my DEVONthink application (I prefer doing Time Machine backups with the datases closed), mount the external drive that holds my Time Machine backups and run Time Machine to copy over the changes.

B) DEVONthink Pro and Office can create complete database archives, the smallest possible complete backups of databases. This feature is provided in File > Export > Database Archive, and also (with options) in Scripts > Export. Obviously, your best approach is to move or copy your database archive files to an external device, so that they are available in the event of a hard drive failure.

Think about all the Bad Things that might happen. What if all my computer equipment (including the Time Machine backup drive) were to be stolen, or my home were to burn or be destroyed by a tornado? That’s where my database archive files become the ultimate level of protection. Every two or three weeks I’ll update them and copy the files to a portable hard drive that I store in a safety deposit box at my bank (I rotate two relatively inexpensive portable drives). Of course, I might lose my data if there’s a nuclear war, or a major asteroid strike, or if the Sun goes nova – but the odds are that I wouldn’t be concerned about computer files in such an event. :slight_smile:

I had exactly the same problem when I upgraded to 2.1. (But as you say, this must be a coincidence, because all DT releases are perfect).

My database is now empty. I tried to restore from back up, which recovered the files but none of the folders or tags, so a few years of careful filing has been lost. I then ran ‘verify and repair’ (hoping this would restore the folders), and the app crashed.

Upon restart the database was empty again, but when I ‘get info’ for the database file it shows 3Gb, which is about right. So like a physics problem it has mass but no matter.

Since then I have tried to repeat the ‘restore from backup’ option but each time I get the ‘beachball of death’ and have to force quit. So the database is still empty and my documents are somewhere in limbo.

Any other ideas?

It’s possible that during download of the update there was an error, and the application was therefore incomplete or damaged. To replace the installed application, first quit the Sorter, then quit the application and move it to the Trash. Go to our Download page and download and install a fresh copy, and after launching it allow it to run ‘Install Add-Ons’.

If after launching the DEVONthink application you don’t see your database, first check to make sure the database was opened. If so, it should be displayed in the Sidebar as an open database. If not, open it. If the database is open but you don’t see anything, try File > New Window.

If the database cannot be opened, here’s a procedure that will likely result in a workable database:

See viewtopic.php?f=3&t=13072&p=61455