Backup Your Documents

As you keep adding information and investing effort into Notebooks, its value to you increases. It is therefore important to have a reliable backup strategy in place to protect your data and to help you restore it in case of loss or damage to your device. In this chapter we will explorer various methods for saving the contents of Notebooks to your computer or another backup system, as well as restoring it when needed.

Some General Advice

We should always keep in mind that “it’s a matter of when we will lose data, not if.” – So before going into detail about Notebooks‘ backup options, here is some general advice.

Backup Regularly

Develop a habit of regularly backing up your documents. Thanks to the available tools, creating backups has become easier than ever, and can even be set up to run automatically in the background. This means you can have hourly, daily or weekly backups without actively initiating the process. The more frequent you back up, the lower the risk of losing important data.

Never Rely on a Single Backup

It is important to have more than one backup, as a single backup can become corrupt, potentially making it impossible to restore documents.

The 3-2-1 Rule

The 3-2-1 rule suggests having at least three copies of your data, on at least two separate systems, and one of them being stored off-site.

Although this may seem complex, you can easily achieve this setup in an iOS and macOS environment. By using Notebooks with iCloud Drive, you have one version of your documents on your iPhone or iPad, which gets synced to iCloud and serves as an off-site backup. If you have a Mac, synced with iCloud, it can also store a copy of your documents, which is preferably backed up with Time Machine to an external drive.

You can of course achieve a similar setup with Dropbox or when using a PC.

Backup Options for iPhone and iPad

Synchronize with a Cloud Service

Setting up and using any of Notebooks’ sync or export options implicitly provides a backup on a remote server. So no matter whether you use Notebooks with iCloud DriveDropbox or a WebDAV server, documents you export or sync this way are backed up, too.

If you use Dropbox sync in Notebooks, we recommend to activate automatic sync. This makes sure that all changes are uploaded to Dropbox as soon as possible, so you always have a seamless backup. With iCloud Drive, your iPhone or iPad automatically uploads changes as soon as possible anyway.

iCloud Drive and Dropbox preserve deleted documents for 30 days or more, and Dropbox even keeps a version history of all changes you make to any document. So this is not just a backup, it is even kind of a safety net.

Back Up through iTunes or Finder

This is a very simple but often overlooked method. Every time you connect the iPhone or iPad to Finder or iTunes and synchronize, the contents of Notebooks is saved to your computer, too. The documents are stored as part of a backup in a location predefined by your computer. This means that you cannot open and read them directly, but they are there in case you need to reset the device or restore it from a previous backup.

To extract Notebooks‘ documents from an iTunes backup, you can use any of the available backup extractor applications. A few examples are

Please note that it is not possible to extract documents from encrypted backups or backups on your iCloud Drive.

Save your Documents to a Computer through iTunes or Finder

Notebooks is capable of exchanging documents through macOS Finder or iTunes’ Files Sharing. The File Sharing panel in Finder or iTunes shows Notebooks‘ top level book as “Notebooks”.

To save Notebooks‘ documents to your computer, select the folder “Notebooks”, click “Save to…” and select a location on your computer’s drive. This will save the contents of Notebooks to your computer and create an easily accessible backup of all your data, including all system files and protected files.

Importing documents into Notebooks this way is less straight forward, because Finder and iTunes’ Files Sharing handle single files only, they cannot import folders. So we recommend to compress the folder on your computer (you create a zip archive) and import the archive. Notebooks adds the archive as document to its top level, from where you can then extract and restore its contents.

Exchange Documents through WiFi Sharing

As an alternative to iTunes File Sharing you can exchange documents and folders between Notebooks and your computer using Wifi Sharing. With both devices connected to the same wireless network, your computer can access Notebooks like a regular drive or volume, which allows you to export, back up and import documents with simple drag and drop operations.

Backup Options for Notebooks for Mac

Time Machine

Notebooks stores its documents as regular files in a hierarchy of folders, so any file backup that you have already in place will back up Notebooks‘ documents as well. Using macOS Time Machine is probably the simplest option and gives you a reliable backup history from which you can restore single documents or whole hierarchies of books.

Duplicate Folders in Finder

By creating a duplicate of Notebooks’ Home folder or any of its contained books, you can create a specific backup of the selected items. This method is useful when you want to back up only a subset of your documents, rather than everything.

To create a duplicate of a book or the Home folder, you can simply right-click on it in Finder and choose “Duplicate” from the context menu. The duplicate will contain all documents and metadata of the original and can be stored in a safe location for backup purposes.

ZIP Archives

Creating a ZIP archive of Notebooks‘ top level folder–or any contained folder–is another straightforward method of backing up your documents. This method archives the documents and metadata into a single file, which can be transferred or stored.

To create a backup this way, you would navigate to Notebooks‘ top-level folder on your computer, right-click on the folder, and select Compress or Zip from the context menu. The result will be a compressed archive in a single file, which you can then save to an external drive or upload to a cloud storage.

To restore the backup, you would extract the contents of the ZIP archive back into a folder on your computer.

Version Control

Using version control tools like Git or Subversion can be an effective way to create backups of your Notebooksdocuments and have a version history of changes. By putting the top-level folder of Notebooks (or any subfolder) under version control, you can commit changes made to your documents and build a continuous backup. This also allows you to easily retrieve earlier versions of your documents, undo single changes, or revert your documents to a specific point in time. 
This approach is particularly useful if you are already familiar with version control.

macOS Document Versions

Every time you type ⌘S while working on a document, Notebooks creates a document version which you can review and revert to at any later time. So while not a full qualified backup, macOS document versions serve as a backup for single documents.

When using Notebooks with iCloud, macOS creates a new version even if a document is saved automatically. With the auto save option active, Notebooks saves a documents the moment you stop tying, so you can end up with a huge version history list. To avoid this, you can turn off auto save, and Notebooks will still save your changes when you switch documents or leave the app; there is no risk of losing any of your edits.

Due to the potentially long version history list, Notebooks 3.1 does not yet provide an interface for browsing versions. Instead, you could open a document in TextEdit and use its version browser to view, duplicate or restore previous versions. We will enable the version browser in Notebooks for Mac when we feel it is stable enough.