how to sync with an external drive

i am stumped. i want to sync mac 1 with mac 2. but, i can’t get it to work. Any help would be appreciated.

i haven’t had two macs in a long while, and this will be my first time syncing. it is entirely possible that i am simply incompetent.

(1) save local sync of mac 1 to external drive. i have a 14 gb database, i end up with a thirty something local sync file. it’s bigger than i’d like, but at least i know stuff is there.

(2) unplug drive from mac 1 and plug it into mac 2.

(3) go to preferences on mac 2, open up the sync window, and then what? could someone give me the boxes to check or buttons to press? nothing is working for me.

some complications: mac 1 is indexing a folder in my spideroak (cloud sync) account. relative paths are the same (it shouldn’t matter for this anyhow). i don’t want to use dropbox because of security issues. i don’t want to carry the computer back and forth to work, so no direct sync. ideally, i could sync through spider oak and any files changed on mac 2 would be in the indexed folders (folders exist in spideroak on mac 2, but i suppose this indexed relationship wouldn’t be recognized on mac 2. i could just index the spideroak files on mac 2, but the databases wouldn’t match up.

i’ve contacted support, and they are working with me, but i suspect user error / confusion on part.

Open Preferences > Sync, then add the existing local sync store (see action menu below locations) and finally import the database from the sync store (see Import Database button below list of databases).

thanks! tried that, and all combinations of buttons i could think of… well, i’ll start all over from the beginning and even try a new drive. maybe that’s the ticket.

Have you copied the DB from the drive to Mac 2?

No. Am I supposed to copy the DB? That kind of makes sense, now that you mention it :slight_smile:

I’ll give it a shot. As I understand it, I’ll copy the DB once, it will index my files (all available in the same relative location), and then the sync store on my external drive will then need to be imported?

I haven’t gotten a response on your Support Ticket.

That’s (nearly) what I did. I copied the DBs from from Mac Mini to MBP and then set them up to sync across my wifi network. All of my documents are imported with nothing indexed. Fingers crossed that it works for you too.

That’s weird. I definitely wrote it. Perhaps I failed to send it. Thanks for the follow-up. I figured you guys were busy or something.

I think Beau Nash’s suggestion was the missing step.

(1) Copy database from Mac (1) to Mac (2), placing it in the same location relative to the indexed files.
(2) Open the database on Mac (2) and everything should be there (indexed with files in SpiderOak).
(3) Create local sync store on external drive with Mac (1).
(4) Sync (not import) local sync store on Mac (2). This might not be good. I got a popup message about merging databases. It seemed like a fine idea to me, so I still went ahead with the process. Everything appears to be OK.

I’ll look over the manual again some time. It might be that all of these steps for the local sync store are there. But, a few screenshots and a few words about what each button / selection would not go amiss. I’ll keep watching this and see if it is really working properly, but so far, so good.

Thanks everyone for the help!

Glad it worked for you.

OK. I have run into my first problem. It appears that the external drive where the local sync store resides must be connected while DT is open. This is a bit iritating, as I have a Macbook with only one slot. It’s irritating on the other Mac as well, but at least there I have an extra slot free.

(1) I’d be able to use DT without having the drive plugged in, and just plug it in when needed (opening the app or shutting it down to sync).
(2) DT would improve the Dropbox security option and I could sync through the cloud.
(3) DT would enable us to use secure cloud services like SpiderOak.

I’ll have to give this a think. I’m not too keen on giving up my one slot…

Why? Are you Syncing onOpen? Turn off this option and (1) shouldn’t be an issue.

Also, why not serve the external drive on your WiFi network and mount it that way? You can have as many drives as ports on your hub. I have a small 4 port powered USB hub that I keep one backup drive pretty permanently connected for one of my machines. I can also attach my media drive to use with whatever machine I happen to be running at the moment. I can also plug in a thumbdrive or other external and Sync to it as I need to.

(2) Dropbox ? Not even sure what the future may hold for us with Dropbox.

(3) There are far too many cloud services for us to support (and there is no common API to work with them all). The closest thing is WebDAV (which can be temperamental in its own right). If SpiderOak offered WebDAV, you could use it.

(1) I didn’t realize that the “sync after opening” radio button would have this effect. Thanks for letting me know. Turning it off solved the problem. That was a big help.

[EDIT:] Good idea about the wifi network. I’m mobile with Mac (2), so I am not sure if that would work. I’ll have to think a bit more about my workflow to see if I can do it.

(2) Dropbox? Well, if you are going to stick with it, I’d like to see better security that doesn’t store the password with the encrypted database. I don’t especially want to become a paying customer at Dropbox again, though, because I don’t agree with their policies, so if you dropped support for it, I wouldn’t be impacted. But, I have colleagues who do use it through DB, and I doubt they would be too happy if it wasn’t supported.

(3) Ideally, the database could sync through the service like any other file without needing to go through the API, but that might not be possible with any database. Frankly, considering all of the troubles I’ve had over the years with cloud syncing (it’s always so close to being perfect, but never quite there, and sometimes off the mark in surprisingly destructive ways), I’d prefer to avoid it entirely (Microsoft Surface?), because it is never as reliable and predictable as I would like it to be.

(4) A new issue: syncing with DTTG. Apparently, it syncs by recognizing the computer, not the database (the same for each computer), so if I update content and want to sync it over to the iPad, I am constantly having to delete everything and re-sync it all. This definitely isn’t going to work for me going forward. I haven’t come up with a solution yet for this one.

(1) Unhook the external and take it with you when you’re mobile. Plug it back in to the hub when you’re stationary. I do this all the time.


This is currently being worked on.

This is an issue with Dropbox’s API changes, not us. It’s a little murky as to how this may play out.

(3) Sorry but it’s not as easy as that (simple file-transfers). (Actually, if it was (1) there would be a common Sync mechanism every service would use, and (2) there would be 100s if not 1000s of services that would pop up.) Sync is one of the hardest technologies to get right, especially when having to consider interacitng with services over which you have no control (ex. Dropbox, SpiderOak, iCloud, etc.)

(4) Yes, DEVONthink To Go v1 only syncs with one instance of DEVONthink at a time.

  1. The problem is that when I’m mobile, I only have one port, but now that we’ve got it so i don’t need to be plugged in all the time, I’m OK.

  2. Great to hear about the security. As I understand it, DB’s API has troubled other developers as well. Good luck!

  3. The iPad is the weak link now. I use it all day every day, so the syncing is important to me. But, I also know from long experience that syncing is a headache. Syncing with an encrypted sync store in DB would be nice.

[EDIT]: What I’ll probably do with the iPad is sync it with just one computer, however inconvenient that is, and save myself the trouble of deleting and transferring gigabytes of data. Honestly the iPad has been a huge help in my work ever since it came out, but I have had a lot of trouble keeping stuff in sync with any app, and now that only a couple apps have a safe method of syncing, it looks like it may be years before this all gets smoothed out, if it ever does (I’ve been waiting twenty years or more!).

Another speed bump. I synced on Mac 1 just fine this evening. I came home and synced on Mac 2 just fine. I worked for several hours, and then synced before closing (automatic). I had a bunch of sync conflicts. The only way to resolve them seems to be by looking at the time last modified and choosing the most recent one, which was about thirty minutes before closing down. I have no idea why, but there were 400+ changes to be synced. It’s just not feasible to comb through these and see what is happening.

As always, there is the possibility of pebcak. And, having a database of indexed files in a cloud service, and then syncing across two computers might be asking for trouble. I’m tempted to stick the database on a thumb drive and just be done with it.

Although it’d be ideal to have sync work every time in the background, sync is such a pain everywhere, I’m not surprise it had a hiccup. It’d also be nice to be able to see the content of the files that have sync conflicts in order to decide which

By any chance, are the conflicting documents RSS related?

Nope. PDFs, Word documents, etc. I looked through them, and as far as I can tell, everything looks fine. I’ll keep an eye on things and see how it goes. Perhaps it was just a fluke – something I messed up somewhere.