Syncing disaster help

Hi all,

A few weeks ago my macbook (2019 16’) just shut off and wouldn’t turn back on. I’ve tried everything so don’t worry about trying to help with that. I am currently in Vietnam, so they sent it to Singapore, I’m sure that all the memory will be lost. I THOUGHT I was syncing the database with icloud (I set it up a long time ago and can’t remember what I did exactly), I definitely know that whenever I uploaded or changed the document I would it would register that it was syncing in the lower left hand corner of the window. However, going into my icloud (on my ipad) I can’t find the databases anywhere. I fear I’ve lost it all, throwing this hail mary out there in hopes that one of you might be able to help.

What do you mean by going into your iCloud on your iPad? If you were syncing using iCloud Kit, to the best of my knowledge you won’t be able to see the files using the Files app. You certainly won’t see any files which are of any direct use to you; DEVONthink uploads encrypted file streams rather than individual files or databases. You would however be able to sync with them using DEVONthink to go or another installation of a DEVONthink on a Mac.

I hope you find your files and all is well. For the future and for anybody else passing by, let me repeat what has been said many times before: sync is not backup, and important files should always be backed up. The forum has numerous threads on this topic.


Had time machine backups but unfortunately I was stuck in the provinces due to covid and no access to my external so those are outdated. Anyway, appreciate your commentary.

Regarding the actual problem at hand, I have devonthinktogo on my ipad but I cannot see the databases. Though one of my indexed files of markdown notes does show up. Any chance I’m missing something really obvious? I was sure it was synced…

Do you use the same sync locations on the iPad? Otherwise you might have to add the iCloud sync location and try to import the database afterwards.

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I just got my laptop back. I can’t find the old databases and my last Time Machine back up was from December 2020.

However, when I look in manage my iCloud storage I see that DTTG is using 115gb, leading me to believe that that is my database. But when I open DTTG there are no databases available.

Is there a way for me to bring this 115gb either into my MacBook or iPad so I can browse it?

Thanks again everyone.

If you are sure there are no databases in your home folder/Databases, then in DEVONthink, go to: Preferences > Sync.

Your databases are probably in either iCloud (Legacy) or iCloud (CloudKit). CloudKit has more recently been implemented in DEVONthink so if you have been using DT from much earlier on, you have probably used what is now called iCloud Legacy.

Click on either of them (iCloud Legacy or iCloud CloudKit), turn them on by checking the checkbox, and have a look at what databases are there in the cloud (under the Remote heading). You can import (download) any of them to your Mac by clicking the gear icon and selecting “Import database”. If there are no databases there then try the other iCloud.

This dialog will also show you if any of the databases are residing on your Mac, in case you have not been able to find them earlier.


Thanks Dario, sadly nothing showing up under remote heading on the Mac, but if I go on DTTG on the iPad when I try to sync with iCloud Legacy something strange happens. First, the 4 databases I have just restored from time machine (that are missing all my work since last December) DO show up, but I get a pop up notification “iCloud (Legacy) (Invalid Encryption Key).”

I can’t for the life of me imagine why I would encrypt any of this stuff, it’s so boring I barely want to read it, but do you think this notification is implying that there is another database somewhere on the iCloud that is encrypted so I can’t see it?

Thanks for taking your time.

do you think this notification is implying that there is another database somewhere on the iCloud that is encrypted so I can’t see it?

No, that would not be the case.

Are you using CloudKit on the Mac and a Legacy sync in DEVONthink To Go?

Well they just replaced the logic board on the Mac, a 2019 16" i9 which just shut off while I was writing one day and didn’t turn back on :frowning: (I’m still bitter). So anyway I can’t remember what I was syncing with before but I probably set it up around early spring 2021, so I think it was legacy…?

Now I’ve got my computer back and restored it with an old time machine, and thereby recovered some of my databases, but I’m still missing a lot. I’ve since synced that by CloudKit on both the Mac and the iPad (still downloading to iPad currently). But if I open legacy on the iPad to check it gives me the invalid encryption key notification.

  • Have you enabled the Legacy sync in DEVONthink?
  • If so, did you try using the same encryption key values in CloudKit and Legacy?

As far as I can remember I have always left the encryption key values blank. Is there some way to check if on my previous laptop I did enter encryption key values?

By “previous laptop” do you mean befoe the reinstall?
If so, the restore would have put things right.

But here’s how you can check for an encryption key…

  1. Do a Spotlight search for Keychain and open the Keychain Access application.
  2. In the logins section on the left, look for a key named DEVONcloudy Encryption (name of service) like DEVONcloudy Encryption (Dropbox).
  3. Double-click it and check the Show password checkbox. You will be required to enter your Administrative password. (This is the password you use to log into your machine with.)
  4. Press Allow (or Always Allow, if desired) and the password will be shown.
  5. Take note of the password, then quit Keychain Access.