Things: To-dos restored!

A cautionary tale! Always have several backups of your data in different places... I sync’ed Things on the iPhone with the work iBook at the end of the day and noticed that several entries in the iPhone’s Today list were called “<missing title>” - not good. Searched on the Cultured Code support and came up with this link - seems that several people had the same problem, and recently too! Here’s what I did to recover...

Things Mac and Things iPhone sync beautifully via wireless networking - and I’ve had no problems. Since the I sync Things on multiple Macs, I did what Cultured Code suggested in their FAQs and used DropBox. (PS If you do sign up, please use my DropBox referral link - Thanks!!)

The nice thing about DropBox is that it keeps backups of your file change history, even for a free account - though you only have 30 days of history. My workflow is to keep one copy of Things running on one Mac at any time - which means I have to remember to quit Things when I’m done using a Mac. Sometimes I forget and DropBox comes to the rescue - lets me recover from a previous version.

I had a couple of options:

  1. Try and re-sync Mac and iPhone again
  2. Restore from the previous iPhone backup and re-sync
  3. Delete Things from the iPhone, re-install and re-sync.

I tried option (1) and the strangely named items were now listed as “<missing title> - Actual title of to do”. Hmm.. Did not work and I force quit Things on the Mac. Restored a known good version of the Things Database.xml file from DropBox and moved on.

On further investigating option (2), I discovered that you can go back to previous iPhone backups if you happen to be using Time Machine. Backups for iOS devices go into the ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup directory and are named with the UDID (Unique Device identifier) of the device - a terribly long hexadecimal string.

Now, how do you find that UUID? Here’s a link to Bjango’s page detailing how to do it - either by using iTunes or their iStat iOS. Love and use Bjango’s iStat Menus for the Mac. Additionally, there’s a free app called iSysMonitor which will show that to you. So once you have that UDID in hand, fire up Time Machine and you can rewind to previous versions of your iOS device backup. Here’s the Apple Knowledge Base article on Backing up, updating, and restoring your iOS software.

I elected to with option (3) as I didn’t want to have to restore, reboot and wait... So I deleted Things off the iPhone, sync’ed and ejected the iPhone. I then reattached the iPhone, sync’ed and installed Things back - and thus deleted the old data. I also followed the steps here to reset syncing between a device and Things Mac. Finally the sync started and indeed all my to-dos reappeared on my iPhone. Safe at last!!