iCloud Key for sync lost

Hello everyone,

i am afraid I do have a big problem and I’d be more than glad if someone could help please.
I am Using DT3 and DTTG3 with a handful of databases. All worked fine until today. I deleted my Mac’s hard drive and made a fresh install of devonthink.
I installed devonthink, entered my credentials and wanted to set up the iCloud sync to get my data back (YES, I forgot to make a backup of the databases on my Mac beforehand).
Then I entered the Sync key and all I could see was the inbox (synced) but not my other databases. DT says the key is wrong. So I opened DTTG3 and wanted to see how that works. It said that the key was wrong although I, just a few hours earlier, I could work with it.
Looking it up in the key chain as mentioned here in the forum does not work, It saved the one from my unsuccessful first try, there is no older on in the keychain.
In my DTTG3 app I have the Backup enabled but I have no idea how to access that backup.

Please help, I am about to go crazy.
Thanks and kind regards,

Ok, so presumably this is the wrong time to point out that your backup strategy is inadequate and that sync is not backup… if your data is important, please consider a backup strategy suited to that importance.

However, to the problem at hand; you have two copies of your data: one is on your iOS device (DTTG) and the other is in your sync store. From what you write, you cannot access your sync store any more. There are various potential reasons for that, but I’m not actually sure it will be helpful to figure out what went wrong if that doesn’t lead to your being able to access the data.

If your data is available in its entirety on your iOS device (that is you have Download Files - Always rather than - On demand active for all databases) then you can simply set up a new sync store or method from the iOS device and connect to that from the Mac. Your iOS device will upload the data it has available to the sync store. I would recommend using Bonjour at this point - to do so you would turn on Bonjour on the iOS device and then connect to the appropriate location on the Mac (trap for the unwary: you don’t need to turn on Bonjour on both devices; the one with Bonjour turned on is the server, the other needs to connect to that server).

The backup associated with DTTG3 is not something which is obviously useful in this case; without special tools it is not possible to access individual sections of iOS backups - and even if you were to do so, you couldn’t simply transfer the data to the Mac. As you haven’t lost the data from the iOS device, restoring it to that device wouldn’t be helpful either.

Oh, and don’t go crazy. That causes all sorts of problems.


Hi Blanc,
thanks a lot for your kind answer.
I have to admit that what you call an inadequate backup strategy does not even earn to be called a strategy.

On my iOS devices I did not activate the “always” button. So I can see the content, but only the preview versions.
So, what are my options now? Try all kinds of possibilities I might have used as key?
Anything else?

Thanks again,

The encryption key might be stored in the keychain. E.g. search for DEVONcloudy in the Mac’s keychain.

As last resort you can mark all your data in you iOS as “download always”, then wait until device is fully sincrhonized and try the new store.

If you don’t have enough space in your iOS, do it by steps (folders or databases)…

If I understood the OP correctly, then they were getting a “wrong key” message on iOS too, so that wouldn’t work. Under those circumstances though, it might be helpful to better understand why after all.

@Niels just in case the whole thing was a fluke, I think I’d restart my iOS device and see whether I still get the error message in DTTG; if so, can you pls state when the message appears and post a screenshot? I find it weird that you were apparently able to sync the inbox to DT but then got an error message. Following reinstalling do you otherwise have access to iCloud (eg iCloud Drive) without error?

@cgrunenberg the OP mentioned that only the new/wrong key was to be found in the keychain.

If there’s a backup of the keychain, then it should contain the old key.

Where might one find such a backup on a newly installed Mac? :see_no_evil:

Sorry, I assumed a backup was done at least before erasing the hard disc.

Exactly, I did a fresh install of macOS, signed up for iCloud and then installed DT3.
In DT3 I entered what I thought was the correct key for the iCloud sync which must have led to an updated key chain with the wrong key.
On my iOS devices I can see the previews of all content, but I am unable to download any files which have not been synced previously. A few of which of fully synced and available. (Not the stuff that’s really important…)

Am I screw*d? Any chances to be rescued?

Thanks everyone,

@eboehnisch Eric, can you help me with a question, pls? Please read the original (first) post in this thread. Does DTTG store the password for the sync store in the keychain? So would the fact that the keychain was updated with an incorrect password via a different device explain why the OP can no longer access the sync store from DTTG? Or is the password saved internally, which in this case would suggest the password of the sync store has changed (and, then presumably, the sync store is effectively empty)?

I ask, because in the first of those two possibilities the data is at least still there (if the OP can figure out the password).

@Niels do you have any other devices connected to you iCloud account which have been dormant since your mishap? A MacBook, for example? If so, you would have an old copy of keychain on that device, so long as you boot it whilst it has no internet connection (e.g. by turning of your WLAN). Or any old backup if your Mac?

great idea, unfortunately the answer is no. just one MacBook, an iPad and an iPhone, that ist always online.

I am about to give up, I have to say. And I can’t emphasize enough that it was 100% my fault. Usually, when setting up a new Mac, I copy the databases to an external hd and upload the databases to a cloud service additionally. Last time, I relied on the sync store as a “backup” and this time I did not even think about it. I could literally not sleep until 2:30 a.m. Good thing is: I have about 80% of the documents lying in a huge box, ready to be scanned once more.

So, if anybody from the DevonThink team could help, taking a look at my system remotely or whatever, I’d be willing to pay for that, really…

I’m really sorry to hear how you are feeling :confused:

Whilst I’m waiting to hear back from Eric (and I’m not giving up until I’m sure what you are describing is a technically feasible explanation for why you can’t access sync store from DTTG) for future reference please allow me to point you to point you to this thread for ideas for a future backup strategy. If your data is in any way important, you really do need to have backups of it (I’m saying that in the kindest voice I can muster; I understand you are hurting just now).

It’s unclear from the previous comments:
Are you getting invalid encryption key messages in DEVONthink To Go?

I think that’s a yes, Jim. That was the basis of my question for Eric.

The optional keychain entry is just a backup, the sync prefers its internal stored values. Therefore another explanation might be that the Mac uploaded some data using the new (and wrong) key and when trying to access this data the error is logged.

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That was what I thought you might say; if that is the case, then the previous sync store is overwritten, is that right?

The sync code on Mac and iOS is identical and uses the keychain, if possible, and a fallback storage. But, actually, @cgrunenberg would be the better person to answer the details, if necessary. But, yes, the keychain could have the password.

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A sync store is never overwritten but it’s possible (not only theoretically) that different databases in the sync store use different encryption keys.

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Thank you very much, everybody, especially Blanc.
You are all very kind and very enthusiastic to help, that’s awesome.
What I will do now is rescue all possible files that were synced from my iPad and then start building the databases newly.Once that is done, I will start scanning the latest paper documents and bring some life back to my DEVONthink. What helps a little is the fact that I can still see which documents are missing because I have the previews and the files’ names still on my other devices…

But at first I will make up my mind about how to backup the databases both on an external harddrive and a cloud service…

Thanks again, have a great evening,

PS: it‘s just a Little frustrating, all the data is still in iCloud…

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