Devonthink *losing* documents

I am a journalist. I bought a DEVONthink license after trialling the software because it seemed like the ideal application to help me keep track of notes, stories, commissions, etc. And in the beginning it was very handy indeed.

However, now that I’ve started using it in earnest, storing or linking to more than 1200 files (upwards of 33,000 words), I’m finding less and less to be happy about. The application crashes frequently and often acts up, for example, if I make a change to a file those changes are not reflected in the browser window, or more often than not, the browser window just loses all data and I have to open a new one in order to view the database contents.

These and other inconveniences are easily overlooked or simply endured for the sake of the greater functionality which DEVONthink allows. But I have just lost a critical document which I have spent the last 2-3 hours working on in DEVONthink. I saved my work repeatedly, only to find that DEVONthink has lost any sign of the document - there’s not even any indication in the History record that it was worked on.

Words cannot express the frustration and disappointment I feel with DEVONthink at this moment.

What’s the deal, DEVONtechnologies?

Sorry to hear about that. I know it must be frustrating.

But my DT database is now over two years old and has passed the eleven milliion word mark, so I can vouch that DT can generally retain stuff pretty well. I rank it as the most stable, productive db application I’ve ever used.

On the off chance that your document may not have the name or location you thought, try a global search on some of the terms it contains. Hope the content shows up! (This has happened to me.)

I don’t know which version of DT you are using. Christian has complained about a bug in OS X that delays storing DT content to disk. He’s addressed that OS X bug in the pre-release version of DT Pro that I’m using, by making sure new content is flushed to disk as it is added.

One of the habits I’ve adopted is to run the Backup & Optimize tool fairly frequently, especially when I’ve been doing a lot of work in DT. That ensures that recent work is incorporated into the Backup file, just in case anything were to go wrong. Usually I run Verify & Repair before Backup & Optimize, but I haven’t seen an error report in months. Even on my big database, Backup & Optimize takes only a couple of minutes. It should take only seconds for your database. (And I make a backup of my database on an external drive fairly frequently.) Over the past two years I’ve had to restore my database from backups on three occasions – twice from the internal file backup, once from an external backup (which, fortunatly, I had made just a couple of hours before Safari locked up the computer, requiring a hard restart that corrupted my database). That’s pretty impressive performance to me. (Don’t ask about my FileMaker problems in the past!)

Finally, I’m a nut about trying to prevent disk and file corruption. I run permissions repair every few days, especially after installing files. I run Disk Utility/Repair Disk every week or so, and run Disk Warrior every few weeks.
Finally, I use a third-party utility to run the cron scripts, clean caches and so on. It’s been my experience that OS X requires this kind of routine housekeeping to remain stable and up to speed.