The DEVONtechnologies Blog

When the Web Breaks

March 1, 2017 — Jim Neumann

If you weren't aware of it already, there was a problem on the internet yesterday for a couple of hours. A little problem in terms of describing it: Amazon Web Services (AWS) was "having problems". However, it was really a big problem for any app or service relying on the S3 services. One of those services was us. Our downloads were unavailable for a period of time. Slack, Trello, Time Inc., and others were affected. Some even experienced some home automation problems because they relied on the IFFFT website.

This encouraged discussion about the dangers of relying on the cloud so much. Sure the promises sound all well and good, but what if the problem had not been solved in a matter of hours? How would you have gotten to your data? What if your DEVONthink databases only lived on the servers that went down and Amazon couldn't bring them back? And what if that data was critical to your business, your academic pursuits, or even information vital in saving someone's life?

This is part of why we don't support storing everything solely in the cloud and fully advocate and support local resources. DEVONthink databases are stored locally*. If you are indexing files, they should be locally available, not existing only in the cloud. And we strongly suggest a primary backup strategy with local media.

But: "Hard drives are old-fashioned. It's the 21st century! Everything is in the cloud!" First, no, not everything is in the cloud. And secondly, always keep this question in mind: "What would happen if someone pulled the plug on the cloud right now?" Yesterday proved that it's a question worth asking.

  • Here is our oft-repeated warning: You should never put your databases in any cloud-synced folder, including the Documents or Desktop folders if you are using the disk management feature in macOS 10.12 Sierra. ​Never. If you have, you should ​relocate them or you could irreparably damage them. If you use Sierra's iCloud features the safest location is a folder in your home directory, like ​~/Databases. If you have them in an unsafe location, quit DEVONthink and move your databases to a new folder in your home directory.