Devon Think Sync


I’m just evaluating Devon Think for my needs and I’m seriously blown away by it. My only regret is that I didn’t hear about it sooner!

I’ve been doing research and part of this I listened to a very old Mac power user podcast (2015 episode I think!) where they stated you can’t have a database open on two devices at the same time and expect them to sync.

I’m thinking (hoping) this is old news?

My experience so far, using the dropbox sync, is that it works fine.

I appreciate that the sync is essentially making replicatants of the database. My understanding is as follows:

Creat database on System A.

Set Dropbox sync location, and a copy of the database is made in Dropbox.

Any changes on system A sync through to Dropbox database.

Now if I open up Devon think on System B, join the sync source on Dropbox then another copy of the database is made on System B.

As with system A, any changes on System B are synchronised with the Dropbox database and then subsequently to System As version of the database.

So, the million dollar question. If I have the database open on system A and then go to my work on system B and also open the database there then this isn’t a massive disaster or no-no?

Many thanks for any insight and for highlighting any misunderstanding I may have!


Welcome @Rsillitto

You’ve got the most important part wrong.

As has been discussed often, including in the In & Out > Sync section of the built in Help and manual, there is no “copy of the database” in Dropbox. It’s raw sync data. And you are not opening a database online or on any other device. Every device has its own local copy of the database. So logically, there is no issue working in the same database on multiple machines.

Many thanks for your response.

I evidently didn’t explain my view very well as exactly that - I never thought I would be working with an online version but that each system has its own local copy of the database and via the Dropbox sync mechanism these various database copies were kept in sync.

Thats why I was amazed that the podcast intimated that you couldn’t have the database (albeit copies) open on different systems at the same time - it didn’t make sense to me. Though, as I say, this was a very old podcast.

I don’t quite understand the subtlety of the the Dropbox carrying “sync data” versus a copy of the database - but the minutiae of this I can appreciate as a black box system. Ie, I wouldn’t go to a Dropbox folder and “open” the database there - it’s purely a hidden mechanism (preferably with Dropbox itself not syncing the relevant apps folder to systems) to provide sync to the client systems.

Anyway, I think I’ve enough grasp (though you may disagree!) to plough on.

Devon think is my saviour! What a fab tool.


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Assuming the Dropbox connection is setup properly (see “DEVONthink Manual”), you can run DEVONthink on two machine simultaneously. The two machines hold independent copies of their own databases.

DEVONthink will launch Dropbox per how you set it up (manually, automatically, or at set intervals). Once the sync puts the files up to Dropbox Server and then down to both machines, the two machines will be in sync. This process is not instantaneous and depends of course on a lot of independent factors like bandwidth, sync schedule, etc. I run in “automatic” and I can look at the “Today” smart group to see the files appear I store on one machine eventually (usually within a minute or so) show up on the other.

I like to think of all this as magic and I don’t try to figure out what that Dropbox sync file is about.

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You’re talking about indexed files here, right?

I’m not distinguishing. Perhaps I should have but I don’t like to repeat all that is documented. If you want to do further elaboration beyond that which is in the “DEVONthink Manual” and specifically in the In & Out → Sync that @bluefrog pointed at, feel free! :grinning:

And, of course, if anything wrong, please edit!

Actually DEVONthink’s sync doesn’t use or require the, instead the Dropbox servers are directly accessed via their API.