Exporting Database for Use on Portable Drive

Below is a list that describes the kind of help for which I am looking. Thanks in advance for any help anyone might lend!

(1) I would like to keep my DevonThink Pro database on my portable drive. Why? Because importing files into DT on my laptop eats up too much disk space for my pleasure or comfort.

(2) I would like to import PDFs and other files to this DT database on the portable drive along with all of their metadata, i.e., whatever copy DT might want to keep on my laptop hard drive, I would prefer to be kept on the portable drive. As you can see, my objective is to save disk space.

Are any or all of the above possible? If so, how? I would appreciate it if your response could be simplified as I am a bit new to DT. Again, thank you.

Yes, as you are Import-capturing content into your database, the database is self-contained and can be moved to and run on an external drive. Of course, the portable drive should be large enough to accommodate database growth and robust enough to handle all the read/write accesses that will be called. Your DT Pro application should be installed in the Applications folder of the computer to which the portable drive is attached.

To make the move, Quit DT Pro, as an open database should not be copied in the Finder – the copy might be incomplete or have errors. Now copy the database to your external drive.

DT Pro ‘remembers’ recently opened databases in File > Open Recent. As you will no longer be using the database in its previous location on your laptop’s hard drive, it’s a good idea to erase DT Pro’s memory of that location, to prevent accidentally opening the wrong database. Choose File > Open Recent and choose Clear Menu.

Now open your database from its new location on your portable drive. Does it appear to have been properly copied over? If so, run Tools > Verify & Repair to check for errors (I’m assuming you had done that recently on the database while it was on your laptop drive). If the database transferred properly and has no errors, you can delete the original copy from your laptop drive.

You now have your database running on a portable drive, just as you wished.

Backups: Always think about what might go wrong. The portable drive might crash, it might be stolen or you might lose it. Your computer might have a fit of temporary insanity (a system panic) while your database is writing data to disk, possibly damaging the database. It’s always wise to consider what might happen and to have and use a backup plan.

I use Backup Archive (Scripts > Export > Backup Archive), which is available for DT Pro/Office. When I’ve invested a lot of time and effort into making changes in a database, such as reorganizing it, or have added a great deal of new content or have done a lot of writing within the database (I like the environment for writing articles and so on) – when I take a break I can invoke Backup Archive. When I return, the database has been verified, optimized and has current internal and external backups, Very Good Things. The external file produced by Backup Archive is the smallest possible compressed and dated complete copy of the database.

I also use Time Machine.

Where should you keep that external backup file? If you lose possession of your laptop and your portable drive, and have stored your external backups in that environment, you’ve lost your data entirely. Personally, I store the external archive files on a different hard drive than I normally use. Periodically, I copy recent archives of my most important databases to DVD discs and take them to my bank for offsite storage (online storage would work, but I’ve got satellite Internet access with very slow upload speed, and big databases). That’s insurance. If a burglar stole all my computer equipment including my Time Machine drive or my house burned, I still have access to my databases. Those databases represent years of work and I place a high value on them.

Thank you SO much, Bill! What a thoughtful response with step-by-step instructions just so I could understand them. The process worked.

I realized after test-importing one PDF that what I would really like to do is run the entire DT Pro application from a portable drive so as to ensure that files imported will not eat up any additional space on my laptop’s hard drive.

I had thought (erroneously) that running the database off of a portable drive would also allow imported files to be stored on the portable. Loud smack on forehead just about now! Is the above at all possible? Will I need to actually have Leopard OS installed on the portable as well to do so?

Unless you install Leopard on the portable drive and make it your boot drive, you must install the DT Pro application in the Applications folder on your laptop’s hard drive.

But that has nothing to do with your wish to store imported files on the portable drive, as those files Import-captured into the DT Pro database are inside the database package file, which you have placed on the portable drive. In other words, files captured into your database are stored on the portable hard drive, with the exception of files temporarily captured into the Global Inbox database. If you have sent files to the Global Inbox, I would copy them into one of the databases on the portable drive, then delete them from the Global Inbox database.

Note also that you can change DT Pro 2 Preferences > Import - Destination to set a destination other than Global Inbox for most imports. For example, try the ‘Select group’ option, which will allow you to send new content from scripts, bookmarklets and Services directly to a specified database and group, chosen on the fly.

Oh, Bill, I do hope this is the last time I have to bother you, but I think we’re getting closer here to the solution I want! You said in your last post:

(emphasis mine)

I only copied the database itself to my portable drive, i.e., the file that is called “Research.dtBase2.”

  1. Aren’t the “database package files” located in the METADATA folder located in Home/Library/Caches/Metadata/DEVONthink Pro 2"?

  2. In order to ensure that imported files are stored only on my portable drive and not on my laptop’s hard drive, must I, then, copy both the Metadata DTPro 2 folder as well as the DTPro file located in my Home/Library/Application Support folder?

  3. If yes, to #2 above, should I not rename one of the folders or place each inside a folder that I create myselfon my portable drive, one called “Application Support” and the other “Metadata” on my portable?

Thank you in advance for suffering through my DTPro tech doltishness here.

Your database file With the extension ‘.dtBase2’ IS a package file. It contains all the files you have imported into the database.

The metadata cache files that you found in your user library are only word content indexes supplied by DEVONthink to Spotlight. They are not database files and should not be moved.

Added: The Global Inbox database is located in your user library and isn’t intended to be moved. It’s the file named Inbox.dtBase2. I would regard this database as a temporary holder for new content, especially for content added when the DT Pro/Office application is not running. Content should be transferred from it to your working databases.

I for one hardly think this walkthrough is the result of “doltishness” as I was curious about this myself and the answers given by Bill have been extremely helpful.

Is that .dtbase2 15 or .dtbase2 is ?

I’d noticed that originally reading the post on my iPod touch. No doubt now it’s IS (eye-ess) though I briefly thought it might have meant “15 files in the database package”.