Options for "Emergency" DT3 Data Retrieval when away from home

I found myself in a predicament this past week when I was out of town for work but inadvertently left my laptop behind. Access to my DT3 database was essential.

So I bought a spare Mac Air. [As an aside - did you know that the Times Square Apple Store in NYC is open 24/7?]. Unfortunately I realized:

(a) My DT3 database is so large that syncing to a new computer over hotel WiFi or cell hotspot Wifi would take 2-3 days so that would be futile

(b) I operate a DT3 web server; that works for downloading individual documents, but it is not practical if I need to download 50-100 different documents for a given case I am working on.

Ultimately I had a staff member with access to my full database export the data I needeed to a local folder then upload it to Dropbox as a .zip - that solved my immediate issue.

But this has me thinking of solutions that either may be helpful in the future or that I may have overlooked:

(1) It would be helpful in DT3 server for me to be able to select a specific Group and then have the server download all documents and nested subgroups within the selected Group;

(2) It would be helpful for DT3 to support a “thin sync” similar to DTTG - ideally such a thin sync would present all the names of Groups/Documents in my database but only download the actual needed content upon request.

Did I overlook some way I could have solved this with the existing app? If not - would either of the above ideas (or some other idea) be of use to others in a similar situation?

I maintain Devonthink database copies on two devices (Mac and iPad)
My data is backed up to a local HDD and in the cloud

Failing device/app access; I can retrieve documents from the backups
specified by filename or group/tag

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Do you automate running the Daily Backup Archive script somehow? Or do you backup the data some other way?

Backups are automated; incremental using Arq software edit; Arq Premium
I also manually run a weekly backup using Export>Files&Folders

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If you backup your data to Arq and then wish to retrieve data from the backup while away from your usual computer, you would need to dowload the entire database from Arq; you cannot retrieve individual documents from the Arq backup of you Devonthink database without downloading the whole database and running DT3.

That’s the problem I had; my database(s) are so large that it is not feasible to do such a download when traveling. I can download 1 file at a time through DT3 web server but that is not realistic either. . Better would be a way to retrieve a specific nested group(s) and its related documents.


I should have specified Arq Premium which provides cloud access to backup data
I can download individual files
. from the Arq Premium backup of my Devonthink database
. from the Arq Premium backup of my Files&Folders export

My current installation uses normal non-indexed databases for all data I want to search for (about 400 GB). They are locally stored in my 3 Macs. Apart my 3 iPads and my iPhone have partially downloaded Gropus.

Apart of that I maintain a full copy of the files in a more complex structure in my NAS, with a copy in pCloud (was Dropbox, but I got a good price for 2 TB in pCloud, less than 2 years in Dropbox).

When I add a new file to DT, I add to my NAS as well. And once a month, I export each DT database and sync them to those folders in my NAS (because I forgot to add some files or modify others in DT). That way I have DT/DTTG always available but if I’m without any of my iThins/aThings, or the file I want is not there, I can always access to my NAS or pCloud from any place.

It is not a lack of confidence in DT (DT sync better between instances than my Synology Drive/pCloud), but I maintain a, well, now about 1.2 TB of files in my NAS.

That seems too complicated
I also maintain a similar backup, but it’s simply a weekly export

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I must be misunderstanding that.

A DT database can easily have tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of files. How can I add a new file to my NAS every time I add it to DT?

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Well, I want to have access to more or less the same files out of DT (and macOS/iOS).

No, you haven’t. I started importing those folders into DT some time ago, and then I only add not more than 10 files a month, mostly magazines or scanned books, then it is easy to have in control what is added, plus the monthly synchronisation that, as @rkaplan says, it is a little bit annoying.

@rkaplan Why not sync to DTTG on your phone and/or iPad? Between my iMac, my MacBook, my phone, and my iPad, I always have access to my DT3 databases.


That’s how I do mine as well. One way or another, I have a full copy between the phone, iPad, and Mac book.

I do one more thing though - one of my Macs makes a local sync file to a directory that I have on a file share. In a worst case scenario, I could retrieve a full copy of a couple databases by telling my remote machine to sync with that local dtcloud file sitting in the file share. Not the ideal solution but it’s only meant to save me from a total failure situation.

iOS and iPad are not practical for working with large PDF files.

But I suppose in a pinch I could set up iOS or iPad for an on-demand thin sync and then use AIrdrop to send the filesl to my Mac. Then do the reverse to sync the files back to DT3.

Not efficient for routine use but it would work in a pinch - so it’s a good idea for that reason.