Cloud file options

I have been trying to use Devonthink for a year and really want to like it, but I have a problem….

My Mac Air is limited on disk space. For this reason I have pushed a lot of files into the cloud (mainly iCloud or OneDrive) over the years. I can’t pull these files into a DT database or it will blow my MacAir (unless there is some compression magic it does). I can’t index these files as DT appears to need to download them locally, and keep them locally, to do this (I made the mistake of trying to index a large OneDrive folder and it took best part of a day to download everything to local then re-downloaded anything the minute I pushed it back into the cloud to free up disk space).

What options do I have to somehow have DT aware of these files? Will DT work with cloudkit where the file is not local? I am looking for suggestions on what I could do so I can have DT as my master knowledge repository (And no, I can’t afford a bigger Mac at this moment in time).

Grateful for any suggestions.

You could use a local, external disk or a NAS with a network filesystem like CIFS, NFS or WebDAV.

Cloud storage, regardless of the name and brand, can’t be an option here, because (as you noticed) the files will always need to be local for DEVONthink.

You should only index local files, not files stored in the cloud.
You can create a database and locate it on a connected external drive. A nice Western Digital portable drive of 1+ TB can be had inexpensively.

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The options in this situation are very limited, unfortunately. In addition to what’s been suggested so far, another option may be to use a flash drive and either (a) put some (all?) databases on the drive, or (b) put the folders that are indexed by DEVONthink. (And actually, I would recommend against indexing files that are physically stored on a flash drive – too many ways to make a mistake in that scenario. So really just (a).)

Aside: if you do use flash drives, make sure to have separate, verified backups of your databases on other media. Sooner or later the flash drive will become unreadable.

Yeah - we don’t advocate flash drives due to how fragile they can be and that they’re not built for sustained I/O. Perhaps for an ad-hoc, “Just need to do this for a short period of time…” kind of situation.

Thanks all for your prompt responses. I think I will try the external drive option (with it backed up). It has also prompted me to think about the data and if I want it in DT (E.g. Media), though there is a lot to add still. I am striving to get to the place where DT is the centre of my activity as then I can realise the full power.

You’re welcome!

I would suggest reading the Help > Documentation > Gettings Started chapter, especially Building Your Database for thoughts on database construction and organization.

May I add this option that might work for you:

It’s an ugly workaround but been using it without hassle at least for archives.

Periodically I go back and dip my toe again in DT. But the inability to put files on the cloud and work from that has become a serious limitation since I work on multiple computers and have found the “approved” syncing process to be very kludgy. I much prefer the organizational and search capacities of DT, but in the absence of true cloud support I’ve been putting much more effort into using Evernote.

I really wish the developers would reconsider their stance and work to accommodate putting the main files in the cloud. Evernote, Onenote, Box etc. seem to be able to work with such a model.

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please elaborate your need.

what is stopping you putting your files that you want on a third party cloud service that syncs, using their software, with your Mac, then index them into the DEVONthink database (residing on your Mac)? Or use one of the compatible with Devonthink third party sync service to sync everything in the DEVONthink databases with another of your devices. or just use Evernote.

Can you give details on “kludgy”
I found it easy to set up a cloud sync store (iCloud) and it runs without action on my part
The Evernote sync store is at Google services, no options but also running transparently


When I set up a new machine it is a pain - I need to transport the file from one machine to another and be sure I get names and settings right. If you just supported locating the file on the cloud it would just work.

Welcome @ChuckHaas

While we understand this desire, (1) it’s not technically feasible as cloud mechanisms aren’t data-safe for package files like our databases, and (2) we advocate a decentralized data model where each device has a copy of the data but syncs to a commonly accessible location. Also, DEVONthink is not a file sharing application nor is it doing the simpler functions an app like Evernote, etc. is doing. We have people with 100GB+ databases. That would not be performant via the cloud, especially concerning searches, a function DEVONthink excels at.

Sorry, it would just not work.

Setting up a new machine to sync via a third party sync service, or Bonjour, isn’t complicated and doesn’t require typing names and settings. Just get sync going on one machine, then add the second, third, and … Fully discussed in Help and in the DEVONthink Handbook.