DTP and 1T Dropbox

I get the message–don’t use Dropbox to sync one’s DTP databases. Does the recent increase to 1 Tb for Dropbox Pro users change the advice? Also, suppose one didn’t sync between computers, but had one computer and all this space in Dropbox so that the databases and indexed/imported files were together in the cloud. Can that much space be a game changer?

No, it changes nothing. The problem isn’t space. The problem is the mechanism. The warning still stands: Do NOT put your DEVONthink database in a Dropbox folder.
(Use the Sync plugin if you must use Dropbox as a Sync location (and consider if it’s really the optimal location - many times it’s not)).

ok. Thanks, Jim.


Dropbox made an interesting business decision. In throwing down the gauntlet of a big increase in storage capacity at what amounts to a significant reduction in price of storage per gigabyte, they will likely kill off some emerging competitors. This has to be bad news for Box, for example, as Box is still burning through funding.

At the same time, there are bigger fish than Dropbox in the cloud storage business. It remains to be seen whether they might take on the challenge by Dropbox with even more attractive offers for users.

In any case, although I’m a Dropbox subscriber, when I go on travel I won’t depend on Sync via Dropbox. I’m the only user of my databases. I’ve got a couple of military spec USB3 1 TB portable drives, so I’ve got plenty of space to maintain Time Machine backups while on travel AND carry along all the databases I’m likely to use on my MacBook Pro.

When an unexpected long layover happens at an airport, I can get work done without paying a fee for Internet access. When I arrive at a hotel and find that Internet access is “temporarily not available” I can get work done. When I’m in a part of the world where Internet access is spotty and unreliable, I can get work done. I’ve been in places where it’s a hassle to receive and send email, let alone Sync databases vis Dropbox. And I’ve been in places where there is no access to the Internet.

I second Jim’s comment that Sync via Dropbox is not necessarily the best or most dependable means of working. It’s works when one works at two different locations, both of which have fast and reliable Internet access. My advice is to consider the variables that may not be under your control when deciding.

Thanks for the detailed discussion on the context of use. In addition to a Time Capsule, I back up on an external drive with SuperDuper. I’ve done this for years, and it’s my only experience with external drives (well, not quite true–I also toss the drives when, like zip drives or CD backups, the technology shifts to the point where these become relatively useless). I looked at the support page to find more information about using an external drive, and was a bit surprised to find a detailed description of syncing on Dropbox. So now I am wondering: given that I don’t travel that much, and that I have excellent wifi service at my university and at home, is there really an issue using Dropbox given my context? If yes, I suggest that DT replace the current tutorial (2012) with more detail about using DT on an external drive. At best the current tutorial hints at its possibility, but no more.

The 2012 Tutorial on use of Sync, including the option to use Dropbox, is still current and valid. It illustrates Sync setup. It shows how to set up a store location (including the case of a mounted portable drive, which is one case of a local network).

There are circumstances in which I would use and recommend Dropbox as the vehicle for Sync. For example, if I’m traveling and need to share a database and updates with a partner in a different location, Sync via Dropbox becomes a wonderful way to operate.

But as Jim remarked, don’t assume that Dropbox is the best vehicle under all circumstances, or even (as in the way I usually travel) that Sync is necessary. If you are syncing Macs in the same location, Sync via direct connection or via Sync store on a mounted drive will transfer data more rapidly (and reliably) than via the cloud.

I’m probably more sensitive to the vagaries of Internet access than most. I live in the woods in a log cabin in a rural area. My primary Internet access is by satellite. Access is subject to disruption by weather, either local or at the upload station about a thousand miles from me. Rain or snow will slow access to a crawl or shut it down altogether. When that happens, I turn on my iPhone’s Personal Hotspot so that I can get Internet access on my Mac. But the Verizon signal is low here (although better than ATT), so I have an outside antenna connected to a signal amplifier and rebroadcaster in my cabin, to get something approaching 3G speed. That’s not the worst of it: I’m limited to 15 GB data per month by the satellite ISP and 10 GB data per month by my iPhone contract. No streaming movies or cloud computer backups for me. But I’d rather live here than anywhere else in the world.

I’ve travelled to places in the world where there’s no Internet access for many miles, and even that was iffy. I’ve checked into a good hotel with normally great WiFi, only to find that service isn’t available at the moment.

Perhaps I’ve become a control freak. :slight_smile:

When I’m setting up for travel, I hope I’ll have good Internet access when I need it. But I set up on the assumption that won’t be true, so I have full access to all of my databases because I’ve included them on a portable drive. I don’t even need Sync; when I return from travel, I can simply copy all modified databases to my other Macs, and everything is up to date.

Bill, I understand–if I were living in the wilds of northern Idaho, I’d be celebrating every day that I actually got an internet connection! Since I’m not, I’ll play with Dropbox and an external hardrive for a while, continue with my ongoing backups, and see which of the two sync methods drop out first. Once one gets going, it doesn’t seem like either would be arduous.


And just to be clear, this is talking about using Dropbox as a Sync location for DEVONthink’s Sync plugin, not putting the database in a Dropbox folder. Sometimes the use of the word “sync” becomes confusing in these discussions.

Yes, the syncing and cloud terminologies can be confusing. Am I correct in understanding that I can keep my data in dropbox, and that can be used by the sync plugin?

If you mean, the files not the database, then you can index data into a DEVONthink database and it will Sync. the database should not be put in the Dropbox folder.

Thanks, Bluefrog. Yes, I did mean keeping the data files in Dropbox and the database (of indexed files) on my iMac computer. I’m becoming weary of the iMac (great for movies, but hazardous at work) and am thinking about getting a used 11" basic MB Air (new as of Aug 2013). My DTP databases combined are about 25 GB, mostly documents, with the largest at about 12 & 10 GB. But I also have about 35 GB of documents (mostly searchable pdfs) that I would like to index into one of the large DB. (I could easily be talked out of that plan).

So what I’ve been thinking about in view of some of Bill’s comments elsewhere is of supplementing the 128GB on the Air with a Sandisk Extreme 64 GB usb 3.0 flash thumb drive. I would also want to keep 3 or 4 of my current Scrivener projects on the same drive. The other 300 GB on my iMac, I would backup to a LaCie “rugged mini” external drive with thunderbolt and usb 3.0, and use that mainly as photo and archive storage.

Does this sound like a plausible scenario? Also, why not install the the DTP app with the pdf data files and dtp databases on the thumb drive or the external drive?