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Backups (Part 2: Locally Hidden)

28. August 2018 — Jim Neumann

As mentioned last week, we sometimes receive support requests from people where the best option is to restore data from backups. All too often we find out they have not been diligent in keeping their backups current, and some have never even started them! Is there really no solution for them? For people who have used Time Machine but haven’t connected their backup drives in some time, there may be hope as Time Machine keeps a local hidden backup too.

Using restoring a DEVONthink database as an example:

  1. In the Finder, navigate to the folder where your database resides. You can do a Spotlight search for .dtBase2 and click the database in the results while holding the Command key. This will reveal the database file.
  2. Click the Time Machine icon in the menubar at the top of your screen and select Enter Time Machine. You will see the familiar “galactic timeline” just as if your backup drive was connected. You should find daily backups up to one week ago.
  3. Select the desired file and press the Restore button. If you had deleted the file you’re restoring, you can restore it with no more intervention. If you have a newer file, you will be prompted whether to overwrite it or not.

On a sad note: For people who have never used Time Machine, this is not be an option. You have to have turned it on and designated a drive at least once. Let this be the impetus to do it today.

And for those interested, this is what the /volumes/MobileBackups folder is. Some people have suggested deleting this volume to conserve space, but I think that would be a bad decision given its potential to save the day.