DT & DT2G: Single or multiple databases - and why?

I have searched on this topic but nearly everyone one of the responses were from 2011 or earlier. I know that in the last decade a ton of updates have been made on DT/DT2G and I’m curious as to people’s thoughts on this now.

I always tend to try to overcomplicate things on organization which is why I think I’d like to just do a single, simple database (using the K.I.S.S. principle) but in reading, it sounds like that I might need to reconsider. I will want to have at least some data sync’d to my iPad. Is that solely controlled by databases? (In other words, when choosing what gets sync’d to iPad, do I choose databases only or are there other options like folders, tags, file age, etc to determine what gets copies over?) Can one choose some files/folders not to sync? I could see having files in a database for archival purposes and need to have other (newer) files sync’d without wanting every file from the last 20 years. I hope it isn’t database only.

Currently, I have 8K notes in Evernote alone (not counting Google Drive, other computers, backups, etc) that will be all finally be moved into one place: DT (and EN dropped). We’re using this as our family’s paperless system and while we do have some work data, I wasn’t initially planning on multiple databases, just to keep it more simple.

I’m curious, do all of the AI connection/links/cross data info actually work the same across multiple databases or is it just looking for those in the single DB. Also, I assume there an easy global search or is it more difficult to search and deal with multiple databases? The single folder “data dump” got so much popular as searched got better so one wouldn’t have to worry about dealing with multiple folders, hierarchies, layers, etc. Honestly, is it any slower to deal with having multiple databases vs one? If, after the 1st sync, subsequent syncs are update only, then wouldn’t sync speeds be the same whether one large vs several smaller? The same amount of data will be sync’d either way.

Lastly, I know these next two questions are kind of dumb to ask but 1) am I right that I can’t really start using the DT2G until I have DT setup on the Mac? I’d like to start using it for collecting articles and such but I don’t want to screw things up by not following the right way to set things up. 2)Is there any other way to access the data, as needed, from my iPad? If I needed a bill for instance that wasn’t sync’d and was traveling, is there any other way of viewing DT desktop files on my iPad?

Thanks so much for any info and advice you’re able to share. I really appreciate it!

Tech specs, if it matters: Internet is gigabit symmetrical (fiber) at home. iPad is iPad Pro 2018, Mac is M1 Mini base (256/8gb). I’ll be updating to DT2G 3 and already have DT Pro 3. ScanSnap ix500 scanner.

See DEVONtechnologies | Questions and Answers > Do I need to make more than one database

No dumb questions there.

  • The AI does work across databases.

  • You can’t sync a partial database. This is something to consider if you’re going to sync to DEVONthink To Go.

  • If you synced a 100MB and a 1GB database, yes the smaller would initially sync faster. If you then added 100MB more to each, they’d technically sync the same.

  • Searching can be done across all open databases by selecting All Databases in the scope bar after you’ve initiated a search.

  • DEVONthink To Go can be used as a standalone application. If you’re intending to use it with DEVONthink, you can either use the Global Inbox or create a database and import that into DEVONthink when you’re ready.

Thank you so much for your kind, welcoming words and for the info. I really appreciate it.

Your answer made me wonder something else that I’m curious about. How/what/where does the DT database sync with DT2G? I mean, can the data stay on iCloud? Does it have to physically download itself to my phone? If it could be the former, it’s exactly what I’m looking for - the ability to access everything but not necessarily have it downloaded to my phone. I don’t have enough space for a massive database but still want to be able to access it. Can the DT2G info live in/on iCloud? Sorry, still trying to get my head around how this works since I’m now kind of managing all the data myself with DT/2G rather than relying on a third party service.

Thanks again!

Yes, with DEVONthink ToGo you can set how many files to download, and to download “always” or “on demand”.

At this point, you should take a look at the free e-book “Take Control of DEVONthink Pro”, available compliments of DEVONtechnologies. While there see the Handbooks for both DEVONthink and DEVONthink Pro. Many or all of your questions, even ones not yet asked, are answered there. See DEVONtechnologies | Handbooks and Extras

Yes, I have the book and am working my way through it. But a 300+ page book to read to get started is a lot. Just feeling so overwhelmed and still trying to wrap my head around how things work.

One more question, when a database syncs, does that include the data that’s moved into it or just the DevonThink code part? Is the size of a database the size of the files plus whatever code DT uses to scan, AI, process the files? Can my files safely live on iCloud and still sync between DT/2G? I’ve read some concerns of certain data being in iCloud (I think that’s the DT database itself, or it’s backup).

Don’t need to read it to “get started”. But at least skim it so that you know the resources are there.

I don’t quite understand your question, but I’ll take a stab:

  • List item DEVONthink syncs documents and the information “about” the documents for seraching, tags, etc. I don’t know what you mean about “code” as not a word used in DEVONthink world unless it’s the “about” stuff (metadata).

  • Yes, database sizes include all that.

  • Not sure what criteria you imply to be “safe”. The sync files are encrypted so they are “safe” from prying eyes. Beyond that I don’t know what to be safe against! The files are only there to faciliate syncing and are for DEVONthink’s use. You don’t use them or even know they are there as they are “invisible” on the cloud server to you.

  • Re the concerns you read about … I suspect that is Reddit-talk. Express those concerns here and they can be addressed by those who know.

  • the sync files in the Cloud server are definitely NOT a backup. Don’t think for a minute that sync replaces your need to have a proper backup regime. This discussed at length here and in the Handbooks.

Thank you for so much info. I really appreciate it.

I should have made more clear which type of “safe” I meant. I wasn’t so much worried about my data. Going with DT over something like Evernote is already meaning my data is much safe - though it’s amazing to know that it supports encryption.

What I meant was, I thought I read that with DT syncing across multiple devices, there can be errors potentially with one’s data getting lost/corrupted if the database is stored in the cloud. I’m not sure this was specific to iCloud, maybe perhaps Dropbox or Google Drive. I may have also completely misunderstood the context but it’s where the concern originated.

So, to say another way, will any data get corrupted (either the DT database itself or the data files inside it) if either the data files or the database is store in iCloud? That was what I was trying to ask before (rather poorly, as it turns out!).

As far as what “code” I was talking about - I was meaning the DT code itself (anything it uses to deal with my data). I was trying to better understand how a database works, size wise. I’d like to have access to all my data on my iPhone/iPad but NOT have it actually living and taking up space on my physical device. I don’t mind if a small portion is used by DT2G in order to give me access to my files in the cloud - I figured that the app would require that. I just don’t want it to download the totality of all my files onto my “Go” devices, if that makes more sense.

Thanks so much for bearing with me and helping me get on my feet. I also appreciate your kindness to a rank newbie. It’s helping me feel less stressed and less hard on myself. :slight_smile:

Yep. That’s why it is strongly recommended (in the Handbooks and here) to NOT put the database in folders on your computer that synch with a cloud service. The database not really a “file” but an Apple OSX “package” holding thousands of files. If the synch engine and DEVONthink work on files at the same time (likely with a cloud sync service) things will probably get messed up (technical term). I’m guessing you read about this faux issue on Reddit.

Not a good plan especially if “all” is a lot of stuff. Sync takes time. data takes space. Yes, you set limits on what gets downloaded in DEVONthink ToGo (read about that in the Handbook!). That will minimise impact on your IOS device (which do not run like real computers). But really be judicious about expectations of using your IOS device like that. If you really want all data to be available all the time, carry a laptop. But first decide if you NEED it! Do you really need to refer to an electricity bill from last year while travelling? But if “all” is not so much, then why not? I use DEVONthink ToGo mainly for note taking, certain works-in-progress documents, and reading stuff. Long ago when I was allowed to travel, I’d collect a lot of stuff to “read-later” while on the plane. I’m out of practice.

Also … remember you do not need to use DEVONthink just to have access to all your files. Simply put all of them in your cloud sync folder on your computer and your IOS devices, and access from there. Simple.