Internal server error when downloading encrypted forms

I’m trying to download an encrypted form from using ODK briefcase. Other, non-encrypted forms are downloading properly, but when I try to get the encrypted form I get this error message:

Submission not retrieved: org.opendatakit.briefcase.util.ServerFetcher$SubmissionDownloadException: Fetch of a submission failed.  Detailed error: INTERNAL SERVER ERROR (500) while accessing:
Please verify that the URL, your user credentials and your permissions are all correct.

This survey data is of critical importance to us, any help on this would be really appreciated. Thanks

When I look at the issue you are having, I can say that this is potentially an issue with your encryption and not the system. This is affecting your retrieval


Thanks for your response Stephane!

It’s not a decryption issue. When I manually place the few instances I have in the ODK Briefcase Storage directory, they decrypt (using export) with no problems. It’s specifically an issue with pulling forms from the database, where I get the Internal Server Error (500).

Also not an issue with my credentials, since I’m able to download non-encrypted forms.


In case you are still struggling with this issue:
I had the same. It is bug in ODK Briefcase in versions greater than 1.15. I filed a bug report to the developers. Meanwhile, the only workaround I could find is sticking to version 1.15.0


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Additional information (I have just wasted 45 minutes of this, so if it can help someone…):
ODK Briefcase v1.15 is not able to handle a pulldata() call in a calculate field. So if, like me, you have an encrypted form with a pulldata() call in a calculate field, you need to do the following:

  1. Use ODK Briefcase v1.15 to pull the encrypted data from the form
  2. Close it and use a more recent ODK Briefcase (I used v1.16.3 and it worked) to export the decrypted data.



Hi @freedim,

Thank you for sharing this to the entire community! It should benefit the entire users!

Have a great day!

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FYI @Kal_Lam,

It seems that this issue remains, or has resurfaced with Briefcase 1.18, as raised by @wb_cjc. I’ve also experienced this issue - with failing to load media files.

A discussion on the briefcase github concluded that the issue lies with kobotoolbox, rather than with briefcase.

Can we look into this? Can’t tell you how terrifying it is to collect data and then to not be able to pull it. I’ve also had issues where we wouldn’t be able to have someone from kobotoolbox decrypt it for us, otherwise it would be an IRB violation.

@figuredio, have you tried using Briefcase v1.15?

I wasn’t able to do it with v1.15, but tinkered around with different versions and was able to download with v1.11.0, then had to use a later version to actually decrypt.

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Thank you @figuredio for sharing this with the entire community.