What are apple inconsistencies

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The result are unexpected problems: Maybe you are missing documents, maybe group or tag structures etc. are "messed up", maybe you see error messages in the log. In the worst case, documents can no longer be found in the database and if all else fails, you can no longer open the database. If something like this happens or if such errors pile up, you should take care of a repair of the database.

You can find the most important repair tool at

I want to briefly explain what is behind this repair process and what the background is, why one or the other goes wrong:

Inconsistent data

DEVONthink not only collects documents, but a lot of metadata about the collected documents, e.g. file type, size, creation date, file storage location, etc. Some of this data is provided by macOS, others are generated within the database, e.g. metadata about the storage location of the group, index, tags etc.

When the operation Check and repair database returns an error, it means that some of this information is no longer consistent.

System problems

Many of these errors arise at the operating system level, hardware errors are rather rare. Often it is some additional programs that you have installed and which influence the functions of the operating system - this possibility is through Sandboxing, a function of current macOS versions, is largely prevented, but programs that ask for the system password during installation may dig themselves deep into macOS.

Another problem is the running time of the computer and it turns out again and again that some problems can be solved by simply restarting the computer. There are many reasons for the underlying read or write errors, but the longer the runtime, the greater the likelihood that minor errors will add up at the system level. These can be simple errors in data processing, but the reason can also be caused by external errors, for example static electricity (or because the mother-in-law is walking past the computer).

random access memory

Read and write errors cannot be prevented 100% and they add up. Especially when data has to be moved to virtual memory again and again due to insufficient memory. You can avoid this if you do not allow the RAM to run up, which in practice can only be influenced by having a sufficiently large RAM when assembling the computer.

Theoretically there are other ways, e.g. terminal-Commands to release the main memory while the computer is running, but that doesn't really fit into an everyday workflow. The final solution to freeing up the main memory and thus ending the constant swapping of data in the virtual memory when the main memory is running out consists in restarting the computer. That is also the reason why the following question comes up so often in support inquiries or in the support forum: "Does the problem still exist after restarting the computer ...?"

Especially when you work with large documents, for example when editing images or video editing, it is essential that you equip your computer with sufficient RAM when you buy it, ideally with the maximum possible. This is costly, especially when the main memory can no longer be upgraded.

A tip: If you are weighing up whether you should invest in a faster processor or in more memory, you should primarily worry about more memory.


Another problem are caches like the so-called Caches. This is where data is stored that is intended to accelerate the workflow, but errors can also add up here. You can partially delete these caches manually, for others you need terminal commands. After restarting the computer, these errors should be eliminated and the caches will be rebuilt by the programs. It is possible that a program no longer reacts as quickly as you are used to.

FDP against system problems

Errors caused by DEVONthink can be remedied with the help of the repair process Check and repair database can be fixed, but DEVONthink cannot correct system-related errors. You can do that too Disk utility (= FDP) that you use in the folder Utilities find. You can run the FDP not only in the event of actually noticeable errors, but also as a prophylactic. This removes authorizations and other inconsistencies at the system level.

External utilities

You can also use one of the programs that do more advanced repairs. I like to use it myself Tinker Tool System & or version 7 (but can't say how this works on ARM Macs). Another popular program is for example onyx, with which I myself have no experience.

These and comparable utilities can not only check and repair authorizations, but also enable a number of other routines in a user-friendly program interface that would otherwise only be available via the terminal application, for example clearing caches or certain preference files.

You should stay away from programs that promise to free up hard drive space by deleting so-called unnecessary files. There is a well-known and unfortunately widespread program, the name of which I do not want to name in order to avoid problems with the manufacturer, which I can only advise against, because this program deletes data that you or the computer still has, if you are not careful would have needed. After all, the program then shows you as a success message that so many GB of hard disk space are now being freed up. Also worth something.

Check and Repair Database - When?

Back to DEVONthink and its tool Check and repair database:

Whenever large amounts of data are moved, e.g. if you want to move a database from A to B or if large amounts of data are moved from database A to B within DEVONthink, it makes sense to carry out a check or repair beforehand. If errors that appear cannot be corrected, rebuilding the database can help, also using DEVONthink's on-board tools.

Basically, it makes sense to carry out this repair routine prophylactically within the normal workflow and without problems being displayed, once every week or every month if you like.


What is indispensable anyway is a backup of the databases, ideally with TimeMachine, because there will always be errors that cannot be remedied with all repair attempts.

Extensive information

I've described more information about repair options in these two articles:

Repair DEVONthink

Backups of DEVONthink databases

The last resort for databases

So help me!

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