Database corruption shouldn’t happen on a computer with a sound operating system and disk directory. The only time I’ve had to resort to a backup in more than three years was last year when I deliberately installed an extension that had caused problems for a user. It blew my database, too. But I had a current backup.
DEVONthink 1.x stores text files (including RTF and RTFD), HTML and WebArchive files within its “monolithic” database rather than in the Finder. If the database is corrupted, those files can’t be accessed from the Finder. Other file types including PDF, Postscript, images, QuickTime media and all “unknown” file types are stored in the Finder, inside the database package file. These, of course, are accessible even were the “monolithic” database to be corrupted.
DEVONthink 2.x will store all file types in the Finder. So files will be accessible in the event of database corruption, and there will be lower memory requirements when the database is loaded.
Most of the files in my main database are stored in the monolithic database, 15,988 of them as RTF or RTFD. I’ve been building that topical collection since 2002. I don’t lose data. I’ve got lists of file contents or additions from the past, and when I check the current contents against those old lists, everything is there. That said, the potential of data loss will be further reduced in DT 2 – but not enough to make me comfortable. Things could happen.
I’m a stickler for backups, and I initiate a backup whenever I’ve spent significant time and effort, rather than waiting for an automatic backup. Because a hard drive failure is always a possibility, I store Backup Archive files on external media, and I use Time Machine. Because my computer equipment might be stolen, or my log cabin might burn down, I periodically copy Backup Archive files of my databases to DVD and store them offsite. (The 20 GB size of my “me”/.Mac account isn’t big enough to hold my archive files.)
The value to me of some of my databases is much greater than the value of the computers that host them. I’ve spent hundreds to thousands of hours on some of them. As there’s no such thing as an absolutely bullet-proof computer, operating system, file system or storage medium I “buy insurance” through a simple set of procedures that are, nevertheless, much less costly to me than the annual cost of my property insurance premiums.
Is my data completely safe? No, it would be hosed if the Sun goes nova or an asteroid strikes. But I wouldn’t be around to worry about it. It’s those little things that I can protect against, such as a failed hard drive or stolen computer equipment. Several years ago the hard drive on my TiBook crashed; I had backup on an external drive. A few weeks ago the power supply on my Power Mac G5 blew; my important databases have external backup archives, and I’ll get that computer fixed under warranty. Meanwhile, I still have access to important data.