Excessive use of iCloud Storage

I am trying to understand why Devonthink is using so much of my iCloud storage. 35 GB, to be more precise:

Locally, my two databases use only 22 GB:

(I also don’t quite understand why they use so much space even locally, but that shall not be the issue here, as I have not yet looked into it more closely.)

In addition to the two databases, there is also an inbox database, but it only contains a couple of /less than 100) documents:

Can anyone explain how it’s even possible that the databases on iCloud use so much more space than the local ones?

(I am using Ventura 13.6 and DT 3.9.3)

In your DTTG settings, is Backup data to iCloud enabled?
Do you use an iCloud sync-store?


I don’t think so. Not in DTTG, but on DT desktop.

I think you’ve just answered your question - you’ve got back-ups being saved on iCloud alongside running a sync. Back-ups understandably do take up additional space.

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In my iCloud account, I have data for “DEVONthink 3”. I do not use iCloud for sync. Can I delete these data after turning off “Backup to iCloud” in my DTTG instances?

Where specifically are you seeing this data?
Can you post a screenshot

Generally I’ve found IOS keeps my Devonthink data hidden somewhere
but I was able to add my Devonthink database as a location in the Files sidebar

edit: my iCloud Storage shows 16GB for “Devonthink To Go 3”
I assume this is my sync datastore
(I have Backup to iCloud turned off)

iCloud / Manage memory

Me too – but that’s not what I’m looking at here. I was wondering if that is the backup stuff and if it can be deleted if I turn off iCloud backup for DTTG.

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If you’re not syncing via iCloud – Legacy or CloudKit – from any device and you’re not using the Backup To iCloud option in DEVONthink To Go, then you can delete the documents and data there.

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Okay, so turning on “Backup data to iCloud” in DTTG will generate a separate backup of all DT databases outside the regular iCloud Backup that my phone creates and where DT uses as little as 4.3 MB? In other words, the DTTG Backup is not shown in purple (= Backup) in iCloud Settings but in Orange (= Docs)?

But even so: if the databases add up to 22 GB. How can the backup be 35 GB?

Does the “DEVONthink to Go 3” data also include the DEVONthink 3 sync data from my Mac mini?

I assumed that what was shown as “DEVONthink to Go 3” is in fact Devonthink (and that the misleading naming was a glitch. But if the naming is correct, where is the DT3 sync data?

It looks like the naming is still misleading in that it says “DEVONthink to Go 3” when it includes both Backups from DTTG 3 and sync data from DT3.

But if that is so, the figures still don’t add up, because if the databases use 22+ GBs via the Desktop sync and then DTTG3 adds those databases once more via Backup, then 35 GB are not enough to account for all of that.

So, I’m still confused, but I have turned off iCloud backup in DTTG now. Will that remove the backups from iCloud? Probably not, since that wouldn’t be a good backup system,

I see I’m not the only one who is confused…

This seems to confirm my suspicion above about the label “Devonthink To Go 3” being misleading. So, if “Devonthink To Go 3” includes my DT3 sync data, how can I delete the DTTG3 backup data, given that I cannot just delete all "Devonthink To Go 3” as per @BLUEFROG’s answer below?

I will need @BLUEFROG to confirm my understanding here as it relates to DT.

“Backups”, the purple section in the iCloud account storage settings, refers to Apple’s “official” backups of your mobile devices (iPhone/iPad). It doesn’t refer to any non-Apple backups and specifically means “backups of your device”. It’s so that if you lose or break your device you can restore it.

“Docs”, the orange section in the iCloud storage settings, is where all third party data is stored. If you are using your iCloud account to back up data being held by other apps, as far as I’m aware that all goes in this section as well as other third party data for the apps you use.

(“Others”, the grey category, is just smaller categories that don’t fit on screen. It’s not relevant to our discussion but I’m mentioning it in case you’ve seen that too.)

The option you can see for DevonThink inside Apple’s device backups (purple category) is literally just the app data that is on your device, so that Apple can restore the app correctly in the event of an emergency. It is not a full backup of your databases, because it is not the job of Apple backup to provide that.

The option you see for DevonThink in the Docs category (orange category) should be your backup. You’ve selected “Backup data to iCloud” in DTTG, which is basically an instruction to write a copy of all of your database data to iCloud. I would assume it’s larger than your actual databases because it includes indexing info, smart group data, etc. But @BLUEFROG will need to confirm that.

Yes, this is what I have come to understand. Thanks for summarizing/clarifying it.

We’ll see whether @BLUEFROG confirms, but if he does, the key questions is: Is there any way of deleting those backups (the ones DTTG writes into iCloud) without also deleting the sync data used by DT3 to sync between Macs. (And just to be extra clear: no iOS device is syncing via iCloud, only Macs.

I suppose the silence means that it is not possible to delete just the backups but not the sync databases?

In that case, we’ll have to delete the entire DT dataset in iCloud and let it re-upload the sync stuff.

Anything to consider here so that this doesn’t go wrong? Do I need to turn off sync on all devices or can I just delete and the syncing devices will just start re-uploading?

Why not use another sync mechanism that is more transparent (and reliable)?

@toffy Did you figure this out in the end? I missed your follow up message, apologies. My advice would’ve been:

  • Make sure one device is currently correct (i.e. your one source of truth - for me my Mac is the primary device)
  • Backup that device just in case something goes wrong (do not backup to icloud!), and because you’re about to delete the backups in iCloud which means you’ll have no backups left I assume
  • Turn off iCloud sync on the mobile devices
  • Turn off the iCloud backup option on mobile devices
  • Delete the iCloud backups
  • Turn sync back on, if you’re intending to carry on using iCloud sync

I eventually deleted the iCloud data from “Devonthink To Go 3” (and turned off icloud sync on mobile exactly as you suggested) but it filled up again:

It is a mystery to me where all this data is coming from. The two databases that I use (“work” and “home”) together use about 22 GB:

There is a third database in the database folder but I am not syncing that one to icloud:

I am not sure where the Inbox database resides, but it contains no more than a few megabytes, so that doesn’t account for those 11 additional GBs. My trash is also empty, so I have no idea why DT is using so much space on iCloud.

I’d really appreciate if @BLUEFROG could clarify what’s going on here.

The Finder size is not really accurate, especially in case of indexed items which are not part of the database package but of the sync. File > Database Properties shows the only really useful numbers.

OK, thanks for that pointer. It turns out that the Work database is 23 GB according to DB properties, which explains the iCloud usage, but I still don’t understand what is actually using so much space. I don’t even see why it would use the 13.68 GB shown in Finder because that database is mostly indexing my collection of pdf documents, which are not even stored in the database itself (I think so anyway).

But if we assume for now that I accidentally imported those pdfs into the database rather than just indexing them, what would then produce an overhead of 10 GB?

Well, a screenshot of File > Database Properties would of course be helpful. But of course metadata database, search index, thumbnails and internal backups require also disk space.

Here is the screenshot:

I did an “optimize database” but it didn’t change much. I noticed, however that DT started uploading stuff to iCloud and I don’t understand why it would do that when I have not changed anything.

I did add files to some of the indexed folders last week, but I would expect that Devonthink picked those up a long time ago (it has been running for an hour before I started “Optimize Database”, so there was plenty of time to pick up changes…

Screenshots of the other synchronized databases would be appreciated too but as the first one already contains 23.3 GB of files and there are additional synchronized databases and additional data that has to be synchronized (thumbnails, indexes, metadata etc.), it’s unlikely that there’s a huge difference at all.

In the end neither the size nor the item count of databases and sync stores are actually comparable, sync stores have a completely different structure optimized for synchronizing.