Ready to migrate, but scared by "not yet downloaded files”

Hello. I finally got a new Mac. Now I want to move my databases to the new one. I read on these forums that we ought to clean the Legacy iCloud sync before moving and then re-syncing using CloudKit iCloud sync.

As you’ve guessed, the preferences panel is warning me:

The local databases contain not yet downloaded files.

I’ve done a Verify and Repair on ALL my databases. Sure, there are about 1000 missing files in total, but these are things I indexed from the desktop and then moved around or renamed. Are there really files in the cloud that my databases lack? But doing Synchronize Database isn’t triggering any download speeds.

Is this warning valid? Or is it safe to follow Herr Neumann’s clean, move, resync method?

Where are these indexed items located in the filesystem? Does File > Update Indexed Items fix this?

Does a toolbar search for item:pending return any items after updating the indexed items?


  1. File > Update Indexed Items did nothing noticeable.
  2. Doing a toolbar search for item:pending did do something: It showed four items allegedly in the Inbox which are not there. And these items do show the cloud with down-arrow. They are crap items and I can delete them.

Thanks so much. I’ll try again. But I was wondering: If I am not using DTTG, then why is it important to (A) clean iCloud-Legacy on one machine before (B) starting iCloud-CloudKit on another? Will doing (B) before (A) mess things up? make (A) un-deleteable?

I’ll delete the crap items now and see if I still get the clean/sync warning.

Hey, I just thought of something. I’ve been using sync because I thought of it as a kind of cloud-based backup. I thought that using DT sync would be better/safer than putting my databases inside ~/Documents and letting iCloud Storage serve as the cloud-type backup.

But it just now occurred to me that, unless I am using DTTG, that this is all wrong thinking. Isn’t it.

A Sync is a terrific part of a backup plan but should not be your sole or even primary means of backup.

Sometimes Sync can indeed saved the day.

But the problem is that you might lose data because you delete it by accident or via malware or by a smart rule/Applescript gone bad - and such a deletion would then be propagated to your sync store.

Also you cannot easily restore items individually from within a sync store as you can using other backup methods.

You might want to search for “backup” here in the forum. You’ll see that it has been explained several times that “sync” is not backup.

Might well be. You should get a backup strategy (timemachine, local NAS, Arq have all been proposed by various people here – mostly not exclusively). And you might setup sync if you need it. That is, if you’re running DT on several machines or using DTTG as well. In many cases (that also has been said several times here), sync via Bonjour is the easiest und fastest way to deal with it.

No, nothing will get messed up.

Sync locations don’t share data so the admonition to clean the one sync location with DEVONthink is to free up space on your iCloud account.

Note: This should not be the process if you’re using DEVONthink To Go with a shallow sync. If you cleaned the old location first files in the shapely stunted database wouldn’t have content to upload to the new location and there would be no content to temporarily download off you cleaned the old location.

An iCloud sync store is part of my backup strategy
When replacing hardware (Mac, iPad), the databases can be loaded using the sync store

My backup strategy also includes Mac Time Machine
This is important because it includes versioning; I can retrieve data as of a specific date

The final backup strategy is weekly manual exports, using Devonthink’s
File > Export > Archive and Files&Folders

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