New synch feature and Dropbox - and a disaster!

Is the new synch feature better with Dropbox than simply keeping databases there? I’ve been synching quite large databases like this since way back without any problem. There’s certainly a huge speed difference when transferring data for the first time. I’m currently doing this with a 1.3 GB database with the new feature and it is very slow indeed, whereas simply copying it across to Dropbox takes only a few minutes!

I’ve also found that databases need to be verified and if necessary repaired before synching with the new feature. Despite never having had problems with the databases before, I had consistent failures until the penny dropped that I should do this.

And one near-disaster along the way. Your video tutorial says it’s important when setting up a synch to turn off the Apps option in the Dropbox Advanced Prefs tab “to save space.” What it doesn’t mention is that if you do this you lose all your data for every other app in there, and don’t necessarily get it back simply by turning the option back on again! Some lose the connection with their databases and have to be laboriously reset to recover it, as I have just discovered.

I don’t have other apps to synch with Dropbox, but the tutorial doesn’t work for me either.

The Devonthink folder gets put inside the apps folder in Dropbox.
If I deselect “Apps” as instructed, everything goes away, including the DT database that I wanted to synch.

I moved the DT folder out of Apps, but that accomplished nothing.

Please clarify?


I belief the recommendation to deselect the Apps folder is a mistake. Rather than the Apps folder, the DEVONthink folder within the Apps folder should be selected. Deselecting the Apps folder can lead to serious problems, including loss of data not related to DevonThink (as illustrated in the original post). I hope the DevonThink team will immediately correct the tutorial.

There’s another small misleading step in the Tutorial. It shows a dropdown frame in the DT Advanced Prefs tab when you apply to authorize the app in Dropbox, but this doesn’t happen; instead, you get taken directly to the webpage (or I do, at least). A tiny glitch, true, but it undermines confidence when things don’t happen as a Tutorial says they will.

I wonder whether someone shouldn’t take another look at the Tutorial. The Apps folder thing is very hard to follow and can cause real problems. This and working out why synchs were failing has lost me the best part of an afternoon. In one case a 1.3 GB database was being rejected (left unverified) because of a single missing file in the Trash! This shows the app’s admirable sensitivity to possible corruption, but is very confusing for the user if you can’t work out what’s happening. I’d suggest the tutorial should at least make it clear that databases should be verified, repaired, and if necessary rebuilt before synchs are set up.

Earlier this evening I sent a message to the DevonThink team about their error in the tutorial. I got a reply saying that my ticket has been assigned to the best person they have in the sales department and that it might take two days before action is taken.

I guess, in the mean time thousands of users have lost data after deselecting the Apps folder … :cry: :cry: :cry:

Great, thanks. Hopefully they’ll read the threads and see what’s been happening.

This is completely my fault. I didn’t do due diligence.

But it should be noted that the subfolders of the Dropbox /Apps folder are created for applications using the Dropbox SDK or REST APIs. An application that just reads and writes its operating data to that folder without using the API is fundamentally and absolutely broken and you should not trust your data to that method.

I have used Dropbox for years but when I checked there was no apps set to sync until I upgraded to the new version of DT, the it put the apps in the list. I unchecked it and all seems to be fine. I don’t know what apps would have been storing data there, guess none that I use.

I am not a developer and know not much about programming (only the most basic things).

However I do know that there are several iOS apps that use the Dropbox API to put text files in their subfolder of the Apps folder such as to make these files accessible on the Mac, where they can be read and changed by editors (such as BBEdit or TextEdit) and other programs (e.g. QuickSilver). The only app I currently use who does so is Drafts. I have seen several other apps using the same method but I can’t remember which ones (Notesy? PlainText?). As I rely heavily on Drafts I am a bit worried by your remark. Can you explain what’s wrong with this method?

MacJournal does something similar. The iOS versions of this App use the Dropbox API to access the data in the MacJournals subfolder, the Mac version writes to and reads from the local copy of that subfolder. Again I have seen other apps using the same method but can’t remember which ones (Day One?). What’s wrong with that?

Day One is indeed one of them, and so is Byword. Both disappeared on my setup when I unchecked the Apps folder. These, and the others mentioned by arnow are most certainly not “broken” apps and I’m surprised the expression should have been used. Quite the reverse - several of those mentioned are among the most respected around. There appears to be a difference of criteria here between devs which should have been taken into account before this advice was given.

This is very mystifying, and not a little alarming, for a non-tech anxious to get the best out of the many apps I use. DTPO is fundamental to me, but is not the only one. I’d be grateful for some explanation of the rationale behind the original advice, and whether the DT team still stick by it.

Both of these applications are very new. I hardly consider them to be “among the most respected around”. (No offense to either developers.)

As Nate alluded to in his post above, unchecking the DEVONthink folder is preferable but that, ideally, apps should not be writing directly to this folder in lieu of using the appropriate DropBox APIs, for just this reason - potential data loss. It is always preferable to use the APIs instead of being dependent on the DropBox app. (I have DayOne and I personally don’t like the way they connect to DropBox.)

DEVONthink doesn’t require DropBox to be running at all to Sync correctly and it is NOT storing any “copies” of its databases in this folder. The exclusion of the DEVONthink folder is only for people who are running the DropBox application.

Like it or not, and whether DEVONthink approves of the practice or not, other apps ARE writing to the Apps folder. Whether they are new and/or respected is irrelevant. Apps such as Byword and Day One are in widespread use. It is poor advice from DEVONthink therefore to tell users to uncheck the Apps folder in Dropbox Selective Sync. Unchecking the DEVONthink folder should be the only option recommended.

I’m no tech, so don’t know how the various apps mentioned in the thread write to the Apps folder.Arnow mentioned BBEdit, TextEdit and Macjournal - all definitely highly respected and longstanding apps. It may be that they do the thing correctly by the DT team’s lights and Day One, etc, do not - I don’t know. The point is that a good deal of confusion has been created by the way the Tutorial was worded - but is now clearer, for which thanks.