All Content from Vault disappeared

Things I have tried

I’ve looked for answers to my problem, but perhaps I don’t have adequate knowledge to understand my problem, and so I am finding no answers…

What I’m trying to do

When I opened Obsidian this morning, my vault was completely empty, and the theme had transitioned back to the original black and purple. There was no evidence I had ever used it - though in fact for the past few months Obsidian has been my only notetaking app, and I use it extensively for work. Eeek!

All my files are still on my computer, but are no longer recognized by Obsidian - when I click on them, my computer can’t open them. I can drag them one by one into Obsidian, but all my file structure is lost (and there are way too many to drag back one by one).

A colleague suggested that Obsidian has lost track of where the files are stored, but I don’t know how to correct this.

Would love any support to get my notes back into Obsidian - and to ensure this doens’t happen again!

Many thanks.

If you click on “File > Open Vault…” does it appear in the left column? (recent vaults). If so, click on it.

If not, click on “Open Folder as Vault”, navigate to the folder containing your vault, and click “Open”.

Does that work?

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Thanks for the help! I am literally jumping up and down with joy. Your second suggestion allowed me to restore everything just as it was. So much gratitude.

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I’m having a similar issue - but the suggestions above didn’t work for me, unfortunately. Ordinarily, I would see my vaults in the left column. They are not there. I’ve tried “open folder as a vault”, and disturbingly my folders are mostly empty. There are a few files, but they are greyed out, and under the size column, there is just a dash indicating there is no info in them.
I tried “file, open recent”…there I can SEE my four vaults, but nothing happens when I click on them.
I am new to Obsidian and something of a Luddite but had 4 months of extensive tech notes on here - now, looking at these help boards, I think I should have been synching data somehow. Devastated to lose everything, this is such a cool app - but losing data is a hard limit.
Any suggestions to recover the data or to prevent this from happening again?
The only thing I can think of is I updated my mac to OS 13.1. I do have a time machine backup, not sure if that helps.

That sounds very devastating. But there very well could be a solution. The following information was copied and pasted from the Obsidian online help:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. In the sidebar, click File recovery under Plugin options.
  3. Next to Snapshots, click View.
  4. In the top-right text box, search for the file you want to recover, and then press Enter.
  5. Select the snapshot you want to recover.
  6. Click Copy to clipboard to copy the snapshot.
  7. Paste the snapshot in the original note, or in a new note if you want to compare them.

Good luck, @Rhona! I hope this helps. If not, I’m sure there are additional things to try. But I think starting here is a good plan.

Yeah, that’s horrible. Try everything @I-d-as said if you can see the snapshots from within Obsidian.

A few other things to check if you can’t get to the snapshots:

  • Do you have iCloud Drive turned ON? Do you keep your vault(s) in iCloud Drive?
  • Do you have iCloud Drive’s “Desktop and Documents” sync ON? That could cause a problem if you store your vault(s) in /Desktop or /Documents
  • “Optimize Mac storage” should be OFF in iCloud settings.

Where do you store your vaults? (for example: MacHD/Users/YOU/MyVaults or /MacHD/Users/YOU/Documents/MyVaults). If you open Obsidian’s vault picker, your list of vaults should be there with where they are located on your computer.

Once you find the location, look there with the Finder. Are the vaults there? gone?

→ If they are there, you need to point Obsidian at them again.

→ If they aren’t there, open TimeMachine, navigate to the location and keep going back until you find the vault(s). Once you find the vault(s), right-click and restore. That will put them back where they originally were.

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The Recent Files is a text list of recent vaults you’ve had open. You are not “seeing” your vaults there. You’re seeing a history of the names. If the vault no longer exists, it’s just a broken link.

Suggestions to use file recovery plugin won’t work if you can’t find or open your vault.

It sounds like you need to focus on figuring out why your files disappeared, or moved.

You don’t have to “sync” to save your files. That’s just one way to backup or copy files to other computers. In fact a syncing tool could very well be the problem if you don’t know what it’s doing. You already did the right thing by having backups.

Important: Where did you store your vault? What was the full path to your vault? It’s important to figure out if you were saving your files in some directory that MacOS automatically deletes, or something. Or if you were in some cloud syncing folder that went wrong.

Then, is your Time Machine backup working to find the files?

@Rhona Did you ever figure this out? I’m having a similar issue – I can see files in iCloud Drive, but they don’t show up in Obsidian search or explorer view. I recently updated to Ventura 13.1 and am concerned that might be the issue.

Would love to hear what worked for you.

Can you show a screenshot of the files? Do they have a little cloud icon beside them? They may have been offloaded to the cloud.

See instructions here, that talk about “Optimize storage” that ariehen mentioned above. But this is an older version of MacOS, so the settings may have changed slightly: Alfred - Obsidian Utilities - #132 by rigmarole

OK, that’s helpful. I turned off optimized storage (no idea how it got turned on). I can see the files in iCloud (if I log into the iCloud website) but they aren’t downloading to my hard drive (yet).

How do I accelerate that process? Any idea?

It’s on by default.

I don’t use iCloud for many reasons, except iPad/iOS apps that store stuff there in the first place, by design. So I’m really not sure how to urge the process along, sorry.

Did you do anything to start the process? Right click download or anything similar?

You should still see the files in Finder. But you should see a little cloud icon in the “Name” field. If they aren’t even on your HD, I’m really not sure.

OK, it finally resolved itself and all the content is available again. Thanks!

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