Devonthink and Foxtrot searches

I hope it is not inappropriate to ask in the forum how Foxtrot search compares with Devonthink.
One bottleneck I face is that I need to have Devonthink open on my mac to be able to search my files/notes. Also, some of my databases are a few GB and my old iMac feels stressed with it’s modest hard disk spaced. So I use them only from my Macbook and not the desktop or iOS.
I also wanted to ask if Foxtrot can search within DT databases that may not be on my computer but on an attached hard drive.
Appreciate any experience in using both Foxtrot and DT together.

As far as I know this should be possible. Another option would be DEVONsphere Express.

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Thank you. Devonsphere is certainly an option. I took a trial a while back and it was difficult then for my old Mac to run it without slowing things down quite a bit. I’m looking for recent reviews.
May I ask two questions related to it:

  • Does Devonsphere show the context along with the keywords, like DTP searches?
  • is there a way to access the index from iOS DTTG?

Sharing my initial comparison notes:

  • Foxtrot will take 5 hours to index my DT of ~40GB on the external drive. This has emails from Outlook with several attachments. I don’t think it took so long for DT to archive them but I have been updating the archive every week or so. DT slows down my system when pulling the emails from Outlook.
  • I tried Foxtrot to index pst folder but it does not render eml files as nicely as DT.
  • My initial feel is that pdf search may be better in Foxtrot but I have not used it enough to have a preference. Also, it is helpful for me to see the context with the key words (and not just file names containing them). DT does a good job here.
  • One advantage is that Foxtrot can index the entire drive and make the index available on iOS (separate app required). DT also needs a separate app for indexing the drive. No idea if the index can be accessed via iOS.
  • DT support >>> Foxtrot

None of this is supported/possible.

In which regard?

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For now, Foxtrot is getting stuck while indexing DT databases and that might just make me drop the option. If I can successfully index, I will share a comparison soon.

What exactly did you do to index DEVONthink databases in FoxTrot? Asking because I use(d) an old mac (MBP 2012) too, but never experienced any problems indexing DEVONthink databases in FoxTrot.

I tried the file.noindex inside the database. My DB is close to 40GB and has emails with attachments

That should work.

But I’m not sure whether I understood your problem: Are you asking whether it’s “normal” that DEVONthink or FoxTrot need time to index 40 GB of data?

I used FoxTrot to search in opened (and closed) DEVONthink databases because my old mac slowed down when there were concurrently too many databases opened. I guess that’s what you want to do too?

Exactly! If I use DT, it takes over my machine for a few minutes and that’s not helpful for me. I assumed Foxtrot may perform better as I don’t need to keep the big databases open.

This makes we wonder how much RAM your machine has and how many items/words your databases contain.

One of the biggest issues of older machines is to run modern macOS versions on them requiring APFS. This basically kills the performance of the harddisc and things get slower and slower.

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I left it running for 18 hours and it was still stuck at 7500/60000 emails. I understand that indexing takes time. But not sure if Foxtrot can handle eml files well.
Also I can get it to index attachments inside eml.
I’m also trying to index pst folder in Foxtrot which seems faster, but doesn’t reveal the attachments.

32 GB RAM, 2014 iMac
~60,000 emails

I was hoping to get one more year out of my old workhorse :crossed_fingers:

And the number of unique/total words (see File > Database Properties)?

Didn’t know I could get this statistic!

Does File > Optimize Database improve the performance after relaunching the app?

These options are nice to have and make me quickly navigate the categories. In DT, I can see the type but do not know if I can filter (sorry if I have overlooked something!)

I realized I had live search on in DT which is why search “felt” slower. I switched it off and it works better for me.

Still comparing the quality of results.

This has certainly made it faster. Thank you!
I have my databases stored on an external hard drive that is USB plugged into the iMac. Is this the best arrangement given by limited SSD iMac space (256GB)? I no longer need to keep it on the cloud and happily sync using bonjour.

The fastest interface of the iMac would be preferable, if there’s a better option than USB. What kind of filesystem does the hard disc use? HFS+ or APFS?

It’s a conventional WD 10TB HDD. As far as I know, I can use only the USB cable that came with it.