Apple Notes Backup

A couple years ago I had an issue with Apple Notes where I lost a handful of data. I run Time Machine so I expected restoring the database would be easy, but it was anything but.

I realize that was a while ago and I may have missed a step somewhere, but while restoring from Time Machine was super simple, getting iCloud.com and other devices to “agree” upon what notes belong where was tricky.

I restored everything to an earlier version which worked fine, but the next day when I checked in it had reverted my restore back to the way it was. I could not get things lined up again at all.

My point is, just because there’s a backup of the database on Time Machine doesn’t necessarily mean a restore will be quick and easy.

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Restoring a database to an earlier version works well for disasters. But not when you are looking for some notes/files you made “a couple of years ago” that are now missing.

Those things are my biggest fear. However, for this either the DEVONthink backup or the Obsidian backup could help with a script that checks for AWOL files (plus some other things such as empty files) and informs you?

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Could that be due to sync?

After giving this some further thought, it could be that iCloud Notes sync should be turned off (at least on the devices other than the Mac) before attempting to replace the good version of the Notes database folder on the Mac. Then replace the folder, open Notes and allow to sync to iCloud. And when finished, turn iCloud Notes sync on for the other devices and allow them to sync.

I would use one of the apps that allow me to export Apple Notes as individual files, and back up my notes manually on a regular basis. Then, should the worst happen, I would at least have the information.

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I worded that poorly. This happened a couple years ago. I wasn’t looking for notes from a few years ago.

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Have you tried Bear? Afaik there’s no Apple Notes importer, but you should be able to export to Obsidian and then import into Bear from there.

It’s polished, easy to use, and won’t overwhelm you with features. I’d be much more comfortable storing long-term/permanent data in it than in Apple Notes.

Thanks for this discussion.

Based on it, I’ve moved all of my Notes into DEVONthink. I was already using DT for “serious stuff”, but for the last year I’ve been using Apple Notes for “non-serious”. This thread made me realize that there was no reason to do that, and so now I’ve simplified things.

Every now and then you need to re-consider earlier decisions…

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I use AN for mobile note-taking because it seems to work better when I need to draw a rough diagram of something, and IMO has a smoother interface than DEVONthink To Go. If it’s something important that I need to keep longterm, I export it to DT once I’m back on the Mac. Backblaze backs up everything with 1 year of versioning.

If DT (and DTTG) would integrate some kind of native canvas like Obsidian’s canvas (I don’t use Obsidian because I’ve heard it slows down if you use too many attachment) so that it was easier to include pictures, texts, and drawings all in one note, I’d probably consider using it for mobile note-taking, but for now AN has more useful features than DTTG.

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I use GitHub - threeplanetssoftware/apple_cloud_notes_parser: Parser for Apple Notes data stored on the Cloud as seen on Apple handsets to back up my Apple Notes every day in a cron job.

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Thank you for your reply and the link to your blog post. Since my original post here, I asked Backblaze for their input, and they agree that normal backup should work. They said that because the Apple Notes are stored in a package, any change results in the entire package being backed up again.

When I have some time, I will try restoring all the notes from Backblaze to a dummy account on my Mac to prove to myself that it works.

Thanks again.

You are most welcome! It’s good to know my work was helpful for your situation and that Backblaze confirmed it should work well for backing up your notes offsite.

I will be interested to hear how everything goes when you test out the offsite restoration.

All the best.

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That would be my recommended method for restoring one or more missing notes that had been deleted/lost more than 30 days. Restore all notes to a dummy account, locate and export the missing notes to PDF or text, etc, and use those files to recreate the note(s) in your regular account.

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