Missing File

Very Urgent Question: My Devon Think crashed. I reopened it but the text file I was working on is now missing. I saved the file a couple of times and the icon is still visible but not content, at the place of the content it is written “File Missing” and then a path (where the file is missing). I can not find the file but I need it in 10 hour because it’s my lecture I have to give! Any help?

The same thing just happened to me, except it was a very important word document that I had been working on and saving for several hours. It is now completely gone. I can’t find it on spotlight or by searching DevonThink. I did Verify and Repair, but nothing changed. I get only one instance of my filename and it says ‘file missing’ (actually even this disappeared after the Verify and Repair). Did DT delete the entire file?? Why isn’t it even in the trash??

This is very serious to me, and disturbing to see other posts on a similar topic that have not even been answered. By allowing DevonThink to use it’s own system of finder folders etc, I am trusting EVERYTHING to DT. If saved files can just disappear without possible recovery, that is a serious problem. If I can’t trust DT, I can’t use it.

This is unfortunate. Though it is possible that the file is completely gone, it might not be. It might be in a location that neither DEVONthink nor Spotlight will search. I suggest getting a copy of Tom Tempelmann’s “Find Any File” (here). The app is excellent … and free … and will search everyone on disk for a file.

Thanks for the tip and the quick reply - I really appreciate it. I tried the link and it seems like a great program. Unfortunately, it didn’t find my file, which seems to be lost permanently.

I understand that all programs will have cracks. However, to properly understand if DT will work for my purposes, I want to understand the risks very well. Do you know why files that have been periodically saved to disk would be permanently deleted without appearing in the trash by DT? Is there any backup mechanism that could protect against this? I tried downloading forever save 2 (tool-forcesw.com/support/foreversave.html). The FAQ doesn’t say if I can do anything about it (I’ve written them, but not heard back yet). Do you know of anyone effectively using Forever Save 2 with DT and how they get around this? I haven’t found a way to change the database storage location.


Missing files can indeed be unfortunate.

About backups: I use a redundant backup system that has 3 levels: the internal backups maintained within DEVONthink, which I’ve set to be done daily and which can restore the previous state of the database if something flaky happens or I do something dumb; hourly backups made to an external drive by TIme Machine, which is included in the operating system; Database Archives made by DEVONthink Pro/Pro Office, which I store offsite.

DEVONthink uses Apple’s file system to store the files corresponding to documents in a database. In the case of Indexed files, they can be seen in the Finder. In the case of Imported files and files created within or directly saved to a database, they are stored in the Files.noindex folder, within the database.

Files can be lost if the disk directory becomes damaged and loses track of the location at which the file data is stored, or if the file is stored on a bad disk sector, or if the operating system gets befuddled by accumulated errors in memory or free disk space gets too low, so that data is allowed to overwrite existing data or a copy or edit save results in a corrupted file.

DEVONthink would report that a file is missing if any of the above happen. It remembers that there should be a file corresponding to the document name, but cannot find it. (In some cases, the Finder won’t retain such a memory; the file listing simply disappears.)

If the Path to the file location in Files.noindex is damaged, DEVONthink will report that the file is missing even if it is still politely sitting within that folder. Run Tools > Verify & Repair and the missing file may be found in an “Orphaned Files” group; it can be refiled into a database.

Errors can accumulate over time in your computer’s memory. If Macs were designed to be completely fault-tolerant, we couldn’t afford to buy them. The easiest way to clear out such errors is to Restart the computer every 2 or 3 weeks. If something flaky happens, try a Restart right away.

It’s prudent to do routine maintenance of the operating system. Apple has built in to the Terminal a lot of maintenance operations. But it’s much simpler to use a utility designed for those purposes, and that doesn’t require entering arcane instructions. C0cktail is the utility I use, and I also recommend OnyX. Run a suite of maintenance procedures every few weeks, or after something flaky has happened, and the odds of bad things happening to your data are greatly changed in your favor.

Run Apple’s Disk Utility procedure to verify the disk once in a while. I’ve found errors on a new computer, and although I’ve rarely seen other error reports, keeping the disk in good shape is critical to ensuring that your data can be properly stored and retrieved. If you do get an error report, Disk Utility will tell you what to do to correct the problem. No, you don’t have to take it in for repair, unless the hardware is failing.

It doesn’t take much time and efforts to follow good habits, and they will likely save a lot of pain and aggravation in the long run.

Any idea why this single “Missing File” repeatedly shows in the log when running Verify & Repair even though it has a document item in the database and can be found with Show in Finder? All looks normal to me.

Missing File.png

Try this script. This displays the contents of the “path” property of the database record for a selected document. If it is not the same path as what Finder reports, then that’s a clue.

tell application id "com.devon-technologies.thinkpro2"
	set theSelection to the (first item of (the selection as list))
		if theSelection is not {} then
			display dialog (the path of theSelection as string)
		end if
	end try
end tell

Thanks for the script/suggestion; unfortunately the result still leave me clueless. The value of the Path field in the item’s Info window matches the suffix of the path property returned by the script, both being:

./.txt/0/get E3000 manual (Mar 21, 2011 8-12).txt

Later I’ll see if related replies from you and arnow shed any light on this. Want to finish watching a hockey game now. :slight_smile:

I think it’s disingenuous to blame the system. I’ve been using Macs for years and have weathered all sorts of troubles, but only in Devonthink have files that are supposed to be there suddenly vanished. Verify and repair reports 111 missing files. I need those files. And all you can say is “too bad for you, you should have known this could happen, it’s your own fault.” Thanks a lot.

I disagree: I didn’t directly say “…it’s your own fault.” Nor do I agree with your statement, “…only in DEVONthink have files that are supposed to be there suddenly vanished.”

The fact is that files managed by a computer can and do vanish, for a variety of reasons. I’ve been working with computer information since 1968 on a variety of computer systems, from mainframe through the evolution of personal computers to the present. I’ve been helping DEVONtechnologies do user support since 2005. Computers are wonderful for storing and retrieving information, and properly managed they are far more reliable than any previous means of retrieving information. For example, a document improperly placed in a filing cabinet is, for practical purposes, lost. A library book shelved in the wrong stack may never be found again. But with DEVONthink and Spotlight indexing of my databases I can find a document that was filed improperly among my collection of hundreds of thousands of documents, in seconds.

Let’s take the case of your 111 missing files. You said that only in DEVONthink have files gone missing. But you would you know that, if you hadn’t been working with a database? Unlike DEVONthink, your individual applications and the Finder do not have a procedure to alert you to files that are no longer available. DEVONthink’s Log lists the files that can no longer be found, after a run of Verify & Repair. I think that’s a Very Good Thing!

Examine a missing file. It’s Path is available, and one can tell where in Apple’s file system it was supposed to be. If Indexed, it was supposed to be filed externally to the database and if Imported or created within the database it was supposed to be located within the Files.noindex folder, within the database.

Suppose the file had been Indexed. The most common cause of Indexed files going missing is action by the user to move, rename or delete the eternal file in the Finder (or its enclosing folder) so that the Path to a file is broken. The user should, therefore, be cautious about such modifications of those external files and folders. (That’s one of the reasons I don’t do much Indexing into my databases, as I love to reorganize content and don’t like these restrictions.) Remedies: Re-Index the content (deleting the obsolete missing documents), or revert, e.g., from Time Machine, to a backup of those external folders and files made just before the changes were made to the external folders and files.

Suppose the missing file had been Imported. Remedies: The most common cause of a broken Path in this case would be database damage such that the Path to the file within the internal Files.noindex was broken. In this case, it’s likely that the actual file still exists within Files.noindex. Run Tools > Verify & Repair, and the missing document will be filed into an Orphans group, from which it can be refiled into the database and it’s “missing” copy deleted. OR Revert to an earlier state or the database via Tools > Restore Backup (items added to the database subsequent to the time of the internal backup will be displayed in an Orphans group to be refiled, after running Verify & Repair). OR revert to a recent external backup (e.g., Time Machine or Database Archive) of the database (with the possibility of losing some files added after the time the backup was made).

Database damage can result from a variety of causes and of course could affect files whether or not they are in a DEVONthink database. These include problems that cause interruptions to the computer while writing data to disk such as a power outage or System or application crash, operating system errors, memory errors, disk directory errors, disk data overwriting errors, and hardware errors.

Good computer and database maintenance habits together with a good backup strategy can protect against problems. Every few weeks I use a maintenance utility to clean caches and perform other routine OS X maintenance operations and restart the Mac. Every few days I run Tools > Verify & Repair to check for possible database errors (I haven’t seen one in a very long time), as this is also important to ensure that my Time Machine backups of databases are reliable. Every few weeks I run Apple’s Disk Utility routines (Repair Permissions and Verify Disk); I think that’s important, as on 4 occasions the Verify Disk routine reported errors on my MacBook Pro SSD, which I was able to repair before serious problems emerged.

I’ve been using DEVONthink since 2002 and my databases are very stable. I consider items included in my databases to be better protected and guarded against loss than other files outside my databases.