DT3 appears to sync but contents in remote database don't update

I have DT3 databases synced on two computers. DT preferences shows the databases are syncing but the contents isn’t updating.

The contents do, sometimes, appear to be updloading per the activity window.

One of the computer’s DT activity window also shows downloading items, but I’m not seeing changes in the contents.

I’ve experimented with adding test documents on both computers. They never show up on the database on the other computer, in either direction.

Dropbox is the sync service. I verified the databases on both computers. Restarted bother computers as well. Dropbox is started and syncing on both computers outside of DT.

Contents is not updating on multiple databases. These databases were syncing in the past. I check that the syncstore is the same on both computers.

One computer does show “downloading items” but it is very slow to show progress and I’m still not seeing changes to the contents.

I’m getting web pages in browsers quickly.

Idea: since it appears your two computers are nearby and probably on the same network, perhaps also use Bonjour which is faster and avoids any complexity due to slow sycing by Dropbox. Full instructions in the manual, but simply:

  1. declare one machine the server by turning on “allow incoming connections”
  2. once that done, the other machine will notice the computer o the network. turn on that one for synching.

Full instructions in the DEVONthink manual.

I routinly have both Dropbox and Bonjour doing my syncs. But since no travel or coffee shop work in recent months, the Dropbox way is sort of redundant as Bonjour local sync is faster and works.

Also make sure you are fully updated with version 3.5.2 of DEVONthink. No point debugging your Dropbox sync with an out of date version.

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I have the same problem with Dropbox as the sync service. And I have to open databases in my local Dropbox directory as a local sync store to merge all changes from my another computer from time to time.

If you keep the Bonjour local sync store running all the time, it’s all automatic. And, issues with Dropbox are really with Dropbox only. DEVONthink just drops the files into the Dropbox local folder and Dropbox takes over after that.

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I had ongoing problems exactly as you describe them with DT syncing through Dropbox. I changed to a WebDAV server several months ago and I haven’t had problems since. It is harder to set up (in my case, I am hosting it locally on my own server), but it’s reliable.

You may be able to fix your Dropbox sync issue by ‘cleaning’ the sync store location. This essentially deletes all of the data on Dropbox for that database, and re-uploads it (and then re-downloads to every other computer). This is easy, but it may take a long time depending on size. I had to do this about once a month, whenever Dropbox got stuck.

If you use a commercial WebDAV provider, it shouldn’t be more complicated than providing a server name and your credentials. Of course, if you set up the WebDAV server yourself, that’s more work. But it might also be less expensive in the end then a commerical offering. On the other hand, Deutsche Telekom is offering 25 GByte storage to its customers for free, and it has a WebDAV service too.

So you’ve had no trouble (excluding Dropbox syncing issues, as described in this thread, notwithstanding) allowing Dropbox and Bonjour to be set up to sync the same database?

(It sounds “scary” to me to have two sync services configured at the same time on the same database.)

@rmschne Also, after setting up Bonjour (and I didn’t disconnect the Dropbox synctore), the database appears to be doing a full sync, according to the activity pane (now at “556 of 2247 items”) …and the dreaded spinning beach ball.

Interestingly, the other computer is showing nothing in the activity pane.

No Trouble.

I have about 10 databases and gigabytes of data collected over the years. One database grows by a few hundred mb each day with new content.

Dropbox works but needs internet and takes longer. Bonjour works well when on local network (which these days is most the time) and is very quick.

I have no need or patience with a local or commercial WebDAV server since what I have has worked well for years.

Sync is well designed. My hunch is that Bonjour is so quick that Dropbox has little to do to catch up with what the Bonjour connection did first.

There’s a relative security risk with Bonjour though, in that it requires an open port on macOS. Whether one considers that a risk is for everybody to evaluate individually of course. Personally, I think people should seriously consider segmenting their network and not allow all devices to freely communicate with each other (i.e. more or less the way networking was when ethernet was invented back in the day).

An internal WebDAV server on a NAS obviously also requires an open port to start an unsolicited sync request from either DT or DTTG, but storing your data in a sync store allows you to encrypt the data before storage. Therefore, even in the case of network intrusion, your data on the NAS or during transport is unreadable to the intruder, might you find such a thing important enough.

I also seem to have a better experience automatically pushing sync over multiple macOS and i(Pad)OS devices with a NAS in comparison to Bonjour, but that might be specific to my setup.

Keeping things in perspective for someone or some thing to get access to the open port on my home network requires breaking security on the router/firewall Or cracking the WiFi while camping outside the house. Or breaking down the door or through eindows.

If any of the above happens I have bigger problems than access to DEVONthink databases.

Am I missing any risks? I feelike the controls I have in place to mitigate these risks are sufficient especially when compared to the benefit. But as usual I may be wrong.

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This depends on your equipment, but if you refer to a run-of-the-mill residential firewall, then keep in mind those usually are stateful and without any DPI or traffic control. And who updates your router? You or your ISP? etc.

I think the emphasis is on the pronoun ‘I’ in your as well as in my example. Like I said, everyone should evaluate their own situation. I’m not saying Bonjour is insecure or WebDAV is superior.

I am advocating enhanced network security though whenever I think it might be worth mentioning, specifically in a time where nasty stuff like ransomware for example can easily spread in unsegmented networks. People who are unaware of risks usually don’t act upon them. If they are aware of them, they can decide upon a security strategy.

Can you drive a car without airbags? Sure. And you’re probably fine in most if not all of your trips. If you end up in accident as a result of your own behavior or that of someone else, I would prefer having airbags though.

I’ve tried running Bonjour sync several times. Invariably, the sync gets “stuck” on an item and won’t complete the sync. The “sticking” does not appear to be on large files. Last sync sat on the very last file for a really long time.

Whenever I stop and restart DT, whether by stopping the sync or force quit, the sync starts over (but is a litle quicker; maybe it’s just checking the sync status of each file).

  • Have you checked the health of the database(s) recently?
  • Have you opened a support ticket for the sync issue?

I verified the databases successfully. Is that what you mean?

Cleaning the database will require a full sync again. Is that correct?

I verified the databases successfully. Is that what you mean?


Cleaning the database will require a full sync again. Is that correct?

Of the database or the entire sync location, yes.

You didn’t answer this: “Have you opened a support ticket for the sync issue?”

Honestly, I’m deciding whether to pursue a support ticket, or abandon Devonthink.

I had a bunch of sync issues, and just got them resolved in the past few weeks. If you open a ticket, they are great at working to resolve your particular issues. I also found the idea of two sync stores running in parallel to be uncomfortable, but it worked fine. In the end, I switched my sync store from dropbox to icloud and that took care of my sync issues. I had tried a number of solutions with dropbox, but switching to icloud ultimately fixed things for me (thus far lol). I think the difficulties that I and others have had with sync are somewhat a function of design choices baked in to DEVONthink. If they had a subscription service and provided their own sync implementation, a lot of this would be a non-issue. I think they made the better, but more technically challenging, choice of backing many different sync technologies. It is astounding the range of options that users have to sync data, and I am aware of no competitor that offers anything similar. That said, I do believe something is deeply amiss with the dropbox sync implementation (likely not on DT’s end). I tried to get my databases to sync for over a year and never got more than 2 -3 months of continuous sync functionality before I had to start a new sync store or rebuild the databases. Then I decided to open a ticket, they helped me troubleshoot, and everything is golden :slight_smile:.


We also had problems with Dropbox and nothing syncing. Devonthink showed everything synced fine, no errors. My work ended up buying a Synology NAS and setting up WebDav. Youtube videos helped set it up. We backup the Synology NAS offsite. Haven’t had a problem since. In the long run it will be less expensive because we will not have to pay for Dropbox.

et al:

Just a note that the situation is indeed perplexing. Other than updating the Dropbox API, we haven’t changed the base code in a long time. And with the issue being sporadic, not reporting any errors, only affecting a small number of users (at least from the sum of reports versus clientele), and not reproducible at will, we have been foiled in our attempts to pinpoint what may cause this.

Also, it could be a change in the API, but that seemingly would affect far more users than we have reports of.

We are still keeping our eye on this.