iCloud vs. Dropbox

I’m currently using DropBox to sync between Mac, iPad and iPhone. Would there be any advantage to my switching to iCloud?

Advantage? Not really anything significant. iCloud is a bit easier to set up than Dropbox, it is already present on every device you own, and you may already be paying for storage.

Other than that, at the end of the day, they both serve just fine as a backend for syncing your DEVONthink content. Neither is faster, more reliable, more advanced, etc to any meaningful extent.

If you are really interested in taking iCloud for a spin you can have iCloud and Dropbox (or any two or more sync systems) operating concurrently.

Thanks! That’s what I figured. Good to get it confirmed.

I started using iCloud and then I switched to dropbox because on my impression it faster, but I really would like to know it’s really the case or what was going on now.

At least before the problem with iCloud was that it doesn’t support incremental changes, so your are uploading all your files when you change them instead of upload just the deltas.

I don’t think this has ever been the case, otherwise syncing my 4gb database of academic articles would’ve been absolutely unbearable.

The DT folks might have to chime in here if things have changed over the last few years but I believe the difference in “speed” you’re noticing is in how DEVONthink interacts with the two sync systems.

For Dropbox DT can directly send changes to Dropbox servers using their API.

For iCloud, DEVONthink actually writes any changes to a local iCloud cache (in addition to your locally stored dtbase file) and Apple’s CloudKit API decides when to sync that local cache to its servers and your other devices. DEVONthink can control when it writes to the local cache but it’s at the mercy of Apple’s API beyond that. Apple is pretty good about getting those local changes pushing pretty quickly, so things don’t exactly linger, but it is one more step than Dropbox.

The actual networking side of things should be identical speed-wise, I see no reason why one should be able to transmit files faster than the other. The hitch is on the two-stage process with iCloud that is not there with Dropbox.

When it comes down to it, pick the service that you have storage with and that you trust. Ideally once you’ve got it set up, you’re never thinking about it again.


I don’t think that the whole library is uploaded every time you do a change, but I believe the difference using the delta feature I’m sure plays a role on speed.

If I remember correctly, the problem was mainly on iOS… but it was awhile ago, so perhaps now it’s different.

I had the library on Dropbox. I bought space of iCloud so I thought that would be nice to use DEVONthink with it. I notice the difference on performance and I switched back.