Devonthink, local folders, google drive backup

I’m on devonthink3 trial and I was really loving it until I realized some of my files were lost.

My main database is on a local folder but I feel indexed folders works better for my workflow.

My local folders are in my mac’s document folder and automatically backed up on google drive (I only see them in “My computers”, in google drive).

Still devonthink sees them as remote folders. Their path in devonthink appears to be a google drive path, not a local path.

So far so good. Until, moving some files I had a warning from google drive that since the files were deleted from from the remote location they were also removed from my local computer as well.
Totally gone!!! Fortunately I had a time machine backup but this behaviour randomly occurs when moving indexed files in devonthink and it’s frustrating.

Is devonthink not compatible with google drive backups? Is there some preference I’m missing to make devonthink work on “local files” rather than accessing the remote backup somehow?


I may of course be mistaken, but if Google Drive works like other cloud services, there is no “local” folder. There’s a locally mounted remote folder (much like an SMB or AFS folder of olden times). It reflects the remote folder at all times (an vice versa). They’re virtually the same.

Which, if my above assessmennt is accurate, would be expected behaviour.

Welcome @pier

  1. You should only be indexing locally available files, not files that are only hosted online.
  2. You should not use any kind of smart sync that keeps your files online and downloads them on demand. Again, see comment 1.
  3. Indexing is not the default behavior for getting items into a database for good reasons.
    Indexing is discussed in the Help > Documentation > In & Out > Importing & Indexing, especially the Indexing and the file system section. Pay special attention to the Indexing and the filesystem section so you understand how actions in DEVONthink can affect files in the file system.

Thanks, chrillex and Bluefrog,

My files aren’t on Google Drive. They’re in my Documents Folder and backed up to Google Drive using the Google Drive Backup & Sync Service, which syncs a local folder (which I see in Time Machine as opposed to my Google Drive folder) to a remote folder on Google Drive. In my understanding, this is more similar to Backblaze, but probably I’m mistaken.

Actually, I will try Devonthink on a local folder and test how it works with a different remote backup solution (which is vital to me).

You’re welcome and feel free to reprot back at your convenience.

FYI i use Google Drive, Dropbox, ICloud, and One Drive. All have local folders and work when the computer not on the network. Each provides their own software to sync with the copy on their remote server and hence sync with other local drives on other machines. iCloud and One Drive have options to “help” you by storing some or all files on the server only but that is optional controlled by settings in each company’s software. even if the files are remote they “look” local but not. That way of working is not great with DEVONthink (but i see some words about that in the 3.8.3 release notes).

i sync a small DEVONthink database with Dropbox to the local copy of Dropbox. Using magic i am not aware of Dropbox handles the sync with some sort of interaction with DEVONthink using the Dropbox API. frankly do not care to know more. i just know it works well.

Apparently, I solved my problem by avoiding the Google Backup & Sync App and using my regular backup app to write files to a remote folder on Google Drive. The files are not backed up as soon as I put them in the source folder, but a scheduled backup every 30 minutes should work, considering I also have time machine always running.

I’m really curious of giving Devon Think a try. I have a DevonThink 2 licence, but I never used it.

Now that my writing files and notes grew so much, I installed the old version along with the trial version of the new one, and I’m really impressed by how DevonThink 3 is so much better.