Historian using Devonthink between desktop and laptop


I was hoping to get some advice on how to best use DevonThink for my historical research.

I currently have DevonThink Pro Office on my MacBook Pro. I’ve got more than 100,000 photos I took in archives over the last few years, which I’ve sorted using Aperture, stored on an external hard drive, and indexed into my DevonThink database located on my MacBook hard drive.

In my database, I have organized my indexed photos according to the organization of the archives they came from. I also keep notes on books I’ve read related to my historical research.

The goal is to take rich-text notes on the photos I have. I do this by creating annotations linked to the photos.

Since coming back from the field, I’ve decided to buy a iMac to work from home and to more comfortably take notes and write up my dissertation. At the same time, I would like to keep using my MacBook for when I make return trips to the field to collect more documents, and when I’m taking notes on books I’m consulting in the library.

What is the best way to set up the database and store my photos under this scenario where I’ll be using two computers?

Should the database be stored on the iMac? If so, how can I integrate the laptop into the arrangement?

Any experiences or advice would be much appreciated!

If I understand correctly, your images are on an external drive, and you index the image folder(s) on that drive to DTPO. Since the bulk of your data is already portable between your two machines you could keep the database itself on the portable drive, and open it in DTPO from there, on whatever machine you’re using at the time. This way, you have one copy of the database and no need to synchronize anything.

If you prefer to have the database locally on the iMac (say, because you’ll be doing most of your work there) then keep a copy of the database on both machines. If both machines recognize the path to the research drive the same way, the indexing in both instances of the database should work without problems. Say, if the drive and it’s top level image folder were at:

Volumes:Research Drive:Field Research:Images (and so forth)

Third, if your laptop and iMac are on the same network when they’re in the same place, then Bonjour should find the laptop - and you could keep the database on the laptop and open it in DTPO on the iMac (with the external drive connected to the laptop). Depending on your local network, response might be a tad slow.

Or, fourth, you could use the laptop in target disk mode - meaning it’s connected to the iMac via firewire and booted as what amounts to a large external drive.

Browse the forum for many of the tips and techniques for maintaining a database copy on two machines. This is a frequent topic.

I’m assuming you’re keeping several backups of your valuable data and database – including off site :question:

I’m not sure how big your database is, but you could try using Dropbox http://www.dropbox.com. It syncs your files as well as keeping a safe copy on their server. The only question is how much data you’re talking about syncing.

This isn’t a perfect solution as you wouldn’t really be able to work on the same file on both machines at literally the same time, but really, who needs to do that?

If you search for ‘Dropbox’ on the forum you will gather that it should be used with great caution, and unless careful precautions are taken a database can become corrupted very easily.

The forthcoming new Sync procedure for DEVONthink applications should make use of Dropbox safer. Unlike Dropbox, Sync will be a true sync procedure.