Database synchronization

I’m a new user and have been looking for a method, like Dropbox, that would allow me to maintain a local DT database (in my Dropbox folder) so that my database could be synchronized across my work computer and laptop (and others). Is this possible?

Yes, some DT Pro/Office users employ DropBox to synch their database(s) on more than one computer.

You will find a number of discussions of DropBox on the forum if you search for that term.

I always emphasize that two cautions should be kept in mind when using DropBox: ALWAYS PROPERLY CLOSE the database(s) after use on one computer, before accessing it/them on a second (quitting the DT application after a session is a good idea); and remember that data transfers via the “cloud” can be MUCH SLOWER (and sometimes less reliable) than in your local computer environment, so judgement and sometimes patience is recommended, else chaos could ensue.

My own databases are large and my satellite broadband is slow and flaky, so when I need to move databases frequently among my computers I do that on a portable FireWire drive. Works every time, and I’m in control. Frankly, I’m not yet satisfied with the current state of Internet technology for trusting my important data to it, and in any case I hate to lose control of my work. (I’ve been around long enough to see all kinds of things happen “out there”.) :slight_smile:

That said, “cloud” synchs are satisfactory to many people and usually work well, especially if you’ve got a fast and stable broadband connection. Even so, I would encourage maintaining frequent backups, e.g., using DT Pro/Office Scripts menu options in Scripts > Export. They not only produce complete compressed archive of a database but perform a data integrity check first.

Note: At this time we strongly recommend against running databases on MobileMe’s iDisk, as there’s a likelihood of database damage. Perhaps a plugin will be developed to make that safer in the future. But it’s OK to store zipped database archives on iDisk.

May we hope to see syncrhonization implemented in the reasonably near future?

Perhaps the advent of the iPhone/iPad applications will coincide with some sort of syncing solution?

The world is moving towards the cloud. I understand and share Bill’s concerns, yet I also hope Devon will not miss the train or, worse still, underestimate the trend altogether.

The iPhone/iPad app will synch with DEVONthink databases (even with a DEVONnote database) on a Mac, wirelessly.

Database synchronization via the “cloud” holds great promise. Facilitation of this is in the developers plans.

I love MobileMe synching of my address book and calendars. But sometimes, whether there’s a glitch in the system or the server is down for maintenance, synch doesn’t happen, at least right away.

Which is another way of saying that “cloud” synch technology isn’t yet always totally reliable. If I’m synching a DEVONthink Pro/Office database, it’s possible that I might lose one or more files in the process, and might or might not ever notice that. Or if one of the critical database management files is lost, I might not be able to open the database, which I would notice.

There are ways of guarding agains such problems, that are analogous to the problems solved in computing’s early days, when writing data from computer memory to a disk, or from one disk to another, was not very reliable.

DropBox is pretty neat. If I had fast and reliable Internet connectivity, I would probably make some use of it. Unfortunately, I live in a log cabin in the woods and have a satellite connection that’s slow, has high latency and frequently drops out entirely. I’ve tested DropBox in this environment for synching DT databases, and it doesn’t work. Ah, but if I had 100 Mbs connectivity with minimal latency and no dropouts…

Even so, as DEVONthink databases are single-user, one must always remember to properly close databases after use on one computer before accessing them on a second computer.

Finally, given the present status of “cloud” technology, if one asks for a more reliable technology to move a database from one computer to another in such a way that the current status of the database is always up to date (which is what synching is about), one answer is “sneakernet”. Run the database from a fast portable drive that can be carried from one computer to another; as we become more dependent on “cloud” computing, I hope to see it approach the reliability of that relatively “stone age” technique for synchronizing databases.

Now that’s crazy talk. Oh, wait, are you talking about advertised speed or actual speed?

Seriously, Bill, I’m curious, what is your actual speed? I’m also in the rural US, but we’re lucky enough to be able to get DSL. If I get 1.5Mbps (advertised 3.0), I’m very happy.

I do use Dropbox, mostly as backup for a few files (like my address book) that I would need to get to in an emergency, but not for databases or anything critical. Just not fast enough out here.

Happy Fourth!

Wish I could get DSL here. Although my satellite service has a nominal download speed of 1.5 Mbs, there are two big problems with satellite broadband.

  1. Latency (the lag introduced by the time a signal takes to travel from my computer to the satellite, back down to the ISP upload site (in Texas), back up to the satellite and then back to my computer with the answer to that signal) is awful, measuring up to almost 1.5 seconds. Latency doesn’t “feel bad” so much if I’m downloading a big compressed file. But it terribly slows down loading of complex Web pages (when sequential calls are made back to the Web to download elements of the page), and would drastically affect performance if using DropBox to synchronize changes in a big database.

  2. Sensitivity to weather, both locally in Indiana and at the upload station in Texas. Rain, snow, even heavy cloud overcast results in lower performance and all too often in total loss of the Internet connection. Add in sensitivity to tree growth (I live in the woods), and differences between bare hardwood trees during the winter and fully leafed-out trees in the summer. My dish was positioned to find a gap between trees almost three years ago. It probably needs repositioning now, as the gap has changed shape because of tree growth.

As to speed, under optimum conditions I may see speeds in the 45-90 KBs range when downloading a big file. But on a complex Web page the speed jumps around from 0 (waiting) KBs to 1 or 2 KBs, with occasional spurts up to 12 KBs. It can take minutes for a big Web page to complete. On a rainy day, satellite is really flaky.

As to upload speeds, the max is under .5 Mbs.

I’ve got a Verizon MiFi for my iPad. Although the signal at my cabin is too weak for a connection indoors, outdoors I often get much better Web page loading than from my satellite connection. I’m looking into the possibility of installing a Yagi antenna and signal booster as an alternative or supplement to my satellite broadband. (Verison’s wireless signal is much stronger than ATT’s at my location.)

Hey, the ability to work on the Internet is wonderful, and I wouldn’t trade my location just to get better connectivity. But my satellite connection often makes me use language of which my mother wouldn’t have approved. :slight_smile:

And a good Fourth of July to you.