Obsidian update erased my vault

Guys, I’m writing this June 9, 2023. I updated my vault a couple of days ago and have the new icon. Somehow, when I attempted to open my vault today, my entire vault has disappeared. ALL of it is gone. Readwise highlights, months and months and months of notes. GONE!

It didn’t seem to happen right after the update. It seems to have taken a couple of days.

I usually have it synced with iCloud, so it’s extra puzzling that I can’t find any of my files in their requisite folders in my iCloud. They’re just NOT THERE!! Hundreds of them. Gone!

Please please tell me someone can help!!!

What I’m trying to do

Things I have tried

I’m literally in tears.

I went to my desktop after noticing that my vault was empty on my laptop and similarly empty on my phone app. I even took the precaution of getting off wifi before opening my vault.

Get this: I opened it and for a second everything was there and I felt relief. I figured I’d find where the files were and make an immediate backup.


I was watching it happen and unable to stop it.

For some reason it spared one random file. Not the same file that was spared on my laptop.


What can I do?!

Take a deep breath.

You said “I usually have it synced with iCloud”. Does this mean you sometimes move vaults around or in/out of iCloud? Or are you just saying you’ve been using iCloud with no issues until now?

First, turn off the Optimize Mac Storage option. Apple menu > System Settings > AppleID > iCloud. This will make sure all your files are local as well as in iCloud.

Now, on a mac using the Finder, have a look in your iCloud Drive. It should look something like this. Here I have three vaults in the Obsidian folder. Each has their own .obsidian settings folder, folders, and .md files (notes).

Screenshot 2023-06-10 at 8.18.53

I’m guessing your vault isn’t there or it’s there with a cloud icon next to the vault folder or next to some folders/files in it.

If it’s not there, recently deleted items can be recovered by going to iCloud.com. The steps are in the link below.


I’m very sorry this has happened to you.

It may be unrelated to Obsidian updates. A couple of weeks ago I lost hundreds of (non-vault) files, apparently randomly, from iCloud Drive and they were not recoverable from iCloud.com either. Fortunately, iCloud Drive failed to sync the deletions on another machine, and I was able to recover my data there.

It’s a painful truth that sync is not backup, and we should therefore be backing up our iCloud content unless it also exists somewhere outside of iCloud. This applies equally to Obsidian Sync, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. Files may or may not be in the trash, but even if they are, these are usually deleted by most services within 30 days—which may be before we have noticed their disappearance. And if it was caused by some kind of technical glitch, as seems to have been my case, the files may never have been moved to the trash anyway.

On the Mac, the only backup software I know of that can correctly backup all your iCloud files is ChronoSync: if a file needs backed up (because it’s new or changed) but is currently offloaded from your computer, it will temporarily download it, back it up, then offload it again.

I hope you have some way of getting your lost data back.


YES!!! It turns out this is likely an iCloud issue. I was was able to recover most (though frustratingly not all) of my files because somehow, for reasons I cannot fathom, they were deleted by iCloud. I’m not thinking carefully about how I’m going to back up my vault. Maybe doing a manual backup with Evernote? I like the idea of everything being in the cloud and therefore accessible from anywhere, but this loss of my entire vault really gave me pause! Thank you so much for weighing in.



As your vault is just a folder, you can make a copy of it anytime, compress it, give it a date VAULT-2023-06-11-1930, and put it on an external disk or another cloud service or burn it to a CD or… :laughing:

iCloud/OneDrive/GoogleDrive/etc are sync solutions, not backup solutions (though they are often used for that).

Have a look here: Home | World Backup Day — March 31st


Very pleased to hear that you could restore your data!

I have temporarily moved everything off iCloud Drive (and am therefore realising how useful iCloud Drive is across my various devices!) until I can get set up with ChronoSync and test everything properly.

For Obsidian, I’m using Obsidian Sync (and loving it), with the vault being backed up by my most-used laptop. iCloud Drive is incredibly convenient, but did not work well for Obsidian: iCloud Drive’s offloaded files cause understandable performance issues.

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