Uh-oh. Purchased sync and now my previous Vault data is all gone

What I’m trying to do

I’m desperately trying to find out what happened to all my files/content from my original Vault that I thought I migrated into my new Sync Vault. All I see are folder names but nothing that I’d written.

Things I have tried

I’ve searched everywhere for help and am stuck. And now regret having purchased Sync.

Oh no, that sounds terrifying!

Were the missing files created by Obsidian? Are they Markdown format files (with extension .md?

I am just starting out with Obsidian, having written notes in plain text using a text editor for a long time. All those files had the extension .txt. I opened my directory of plain text notes as a vault in Obsidian. None of those files were visible in the vault, as seen from the Obsidian app! The fix I made was to change a setting in Obsidian: Settings – Files & Links – Detect all file extensions, set to “on”. Now all those text files are at least visible in the Obsidian app, even though it does not want to edit them.

Have you tried to search one of your notes by using your system file explorer?

Did you have File Recovery turned on? Go to Settings>File Recovery and click Snapshots>View.

If you have a backup system like Backblaze or Carbonite, you should be able to download the vault from before you synced it.

If this is a laptop, there are utilities to Undelete files, but that only works well if you haven’t done a lot of writes to the drive since the delete, as the files remain there until they are overwritten with new data.

I found a backup of my vault. Pulled it into my Downloads folder.
How do I put it into Sync? I am stuck here.
Thanks for your help.

Where was your vault stored before?

I wouldn’t keep any files stored in my Downloads folder. Whether you are on Mac or Windows, make sure the Downloads folder (or whatever folder you end up choosing) is not synced with iCloud or OneDrive.

If you mixed Obsidian Sync with another syncing tool, that might explain why you had some files disappear.

Where should I put that Vault and then how do I put it into Sync?

Where you put the local vault(s) is really up to you, but it should be in your USER directory and I’d avoid Desktop/ or Documents/ because of the possibility that other sync services are watching those folders (as rigmarole mentioned).

My setup looks like this:

Windows →

  • C:\Users\USER\Obsidian\{VAULT1}
  • C:\Users\USER\Obsidian\{VAULT2}

macOS →

  • /Users/USER/Obsidian/{VAULT1}
  • /Users/USER/Obsidian/{VAULT2}

and so on.


Once you’ve picked a local location for your vault, I would start from scratch to create a new remote vault. It’s a good idea to name the remote vault the same as the local vault to make it clear for yourself (but you don’t have to).