Please help with data loss

I have just started to use Devonthink on my MacBook Pro. For my very first project, I created a database that indexed to folders/files on my laptop, which are stored in Microsoft OneDrive. I made hundreds of annotations and created many tags to the files in the database.Today, liquid was spilled on my laptop, and it is not fully functional, now. The files are still in my OneDrive cloud storage, but the database is gone.

I was just able to start the laptop, briefly, and Devonthink opened up with a message that it had not been shut down properly (or that it was running on another computer). I continued to open Devonthink, as it was not running on another computer, and the database that I had created was completely gone. Is there any way to retrieve my database with the annotations and tags, assuming that I can either start the laptop again or have someone retrieve all of the data from the hard drive? Thank you.

Welcome @YaYaTurre

Do you not have proper primary backups of your data?
If not, that is a very bad position to put yourself in.

  1. In the Finder, do a Spotlight search for kind:database name:dtBase2. This will show existing databases on your machine.
  2. Select Show all in Finder and make sure This Mac is set in the window that opens.
  3. Now, just double-click the databases you want to open.
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Thanks for the quick reply! I will try the solution you provided after I give the laptop a little time to dry out.

The longer version of the story (and the reason that I had not backed up the data) is that I was on a short trip for work when I created the database on the laptop, and I did not take a hard drive with me to do a back up. I rarely use the laptop and usually work with programs that sync immediately to the cloud, so I did not think about backing up. Hard lesson learned!

Indeed a hard lesson for sure. :cry:
Even as a temporary backup, a very small portable drive can be useful for ad-hoc backups on the road.

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Got it! It won’t happen again.

If the laptop does not start again, and I take it somewhere to retrieve the data, will it still be possible to find the database? thanks.

Have them check the Databases folder in the Home directory or try to locate package files ending in .dtBase2 or .dtSparse. Also, if you’re using encrypted databases, they may have been left as .sparseimage files since DEVONthink quit unceremoniously.

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So, I managed to boot up the laptop for a short bit of time. I found the database file that I am desperate to save and was able to open DT and display the database!

Next I made a copy of the database file onto an external drive. Last, I started a Time Machine back up, but the laptop shut down midway through. Now, the laptop will not stay on for more than a minute or so at a time.

So, is it possible to use the copy of the database file to restore the database on a different Mac?

As a reminder, the database that I built was indexed to files that are stored in the OneDrive folder of my laptop, and the same files are available in the same folder structure on all of my Mac devices. Please advise. Thanks!

If you have the database on a second Mac and…
That second Mac is connected to your OneDrive account and…
OneDrive has created a local repository of its files just as you had on the old machine…
Then yes, you should be able to open that database in DEVONthink on that Mac and have things intact.

Do a File > Verify & Repair after opening it.

Thanks. I do not have the database in question on the second Mac. This was my first ever DT database, and I created it on the (damaged) laptop. I have now added my 2nd DT license to my iMac, but DT is empty, there (i.e. no databases). The other conditions that you listed hold true for the second Mac.

I do have an update on the condition of the laptop, however. It seems to be functioning, and I have managed to create a Time Machine backup. So, can you please provide instructions on the best way to accomplish the following:

  1. Copy/move the database from the damaged laptop to my iMac. Please note that the laptop is running Big Sur (11.5.2) while the iMac is running Monterey (12.0.1) in case that is relevant.
  2. Copy/move the database to a new laptop that I am most likely going to purchase. (I assume that the Time Machine backup will be the way to go, here.)


If old Macbook working …

Re 1 can you not just put both machines on the local network (hope you have one) and then share the Macbook to the network, connect to the macbook from iMac, then use Finder to drag and drop the DEVONthink database “package”? if no network then use a USB disk or stick?

Re 2 use Apple’s Migration Assistant to get the database plus everything else of interest?

You said…

Next I made a copy of the database file onto an external drive.

Why aren’t you connecting the drive to the second Mac and copying the database into the Database folder in the home directory there? You could then just double-click it to open it in DEVONthink.

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Ok…that fixed it! Thanks!

As for my next steps, I have just removed the license from my damaged laptop and will add it to my new computer. I am assuming that I should then set up a sync between the two devices (and not simply use the copy of the database file to open it on the new Mac). I have read some of the documentation regarding setting up sync, but i you want to give some specific suggestions, I will appreciate it.