Reliably sync all databases, keep all local - not working


My goal is to have a full sync of all databases on my iPhone/iPad. But I cannot reliably make DTTG sync all databases (or sync a specific database at all).

Here is my setup

  • A dozen databases in DEVONthink,

    • some with thousands of text files, word files, and smaller PDF files.
    • some databases only have larger PDF files (5-10 MB each), and database-size is up to 10GB.
    • largest database has around 12 GB.
  • Sync setup

    • Sync via “Local network”
    • Schedule: Automatic
    • Keep all

DEVONthink is always running on my Mac, and my Mac never goes to sleep because I use a tool that keeps it awake.

To start syncing I start DEVONthink to Go, drag the list down so that sync starts (or is there another way to trigger sync for all databases?), now I can see on the bottom of that list an update of the groups that are being synced. Usually sync starts with “Global inbox”.

When I switch to another app, DTTG will stop syncing, so usually I keep the app running, dim the screen of my iDevice and leave it alone for an hour. After a few minutes the app is not responsive anymore. It seems to do something, but I can’t click anything because it’s frozen.

Sync problem

Here are my problems with sync

  • One database never syncs. No matter what I do (open the database in DTTG, drag the list down, leave it open). It is not even the largest. It has only PDF files (3-10 MB). But not even one pdf file gets synced to

    • Settings for that database: Download files: Always (cannot change to “On demand” anyway)
  • All the other databases do not sync reliably:

    • At night, I open the app DTTG, trigger sync. I can see sync progress (the cloud symbol at the bottom shows sync progress), I dim the screen and leave my iPhone/iPad plugged in for the night.
    • Next morning I open an arbitrary database in DTTG and I can see that not all the changes I made in DEVONthink are synced to my iPhone/iPad.

I need a full copy of all my databases on the go, because there are times when I need to leave my Mac at home and have my iPad only with me. And currently I can’t do that due to sync problems.

What am I missing? Anything I can change to make it work?


So obviously some prefer WebDAV over “Local Network” sync (Direct Connection without using a document store), and iCloud seems to be the least reliable solution.

The problem with most of the hosted WebDAV solutions (Telekom Magenta, CloudMe, is that there is a file size limit (max 5GB). Some of my databases have 8 to 11 GB. So that won’t work.

So “Local Network” sync isn’t really working for me, and all other options have their limitations. - I am tempted to concolude that DTTG is not a reliable solution, at least for me. And I am forced to carry my Mac with me, whenever I need to do work on the go.

Compared to that, even iCloud seems to be reliable :frowning:

I’m using Webdav (Telekom), which works just fine (at least better than iCloud). But they give you only 25GB for free, which might not be enough in your case.

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I am ready to switch to any other solution that reliably works.

Personally I’ve tried several constructions, including the Bonjour sync, but I am most happy with a WebDAV sync over a NAS. That way, all devices running DT or DTTG can work completely independent from each other.

If I put it into a schematic:

portables (camera/scanner)
router — NAS — (optional network scanner)
macOS (scanner)

Be sure the NAS software supports WebDAV and optionally a protocol macOS Finder or other devices can use. Be aware macOS does not support SMB1 for security reasons (and it’s probably best not to use it anyway).

Whether you want a NAS with 10 ultra-sized disks and heavy-duty CPU or a simple one with only one disk is up to you. I would look at some brand that you expect to be around for some time, and buy a model that is relatively new. You could of course also built one yourself.

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I do own a Synology NAS, even if it’s not the newest generation (it’s a DS212+), it has two HDs, and supports WebDAV. - Just started installing a WebDAV app on it. Will set it up and see how it works.

That’ll most likely work.

It doesn’t need to be the newest of the newest probably, but if you were to buy a new one that turns out to be end-of-life next year is quite annoying (been there, done that) and leaves you with a NAS that’s potentially insecure due to a lack of updates.

Consider encrypting the NAS content in case of theft or loss otherwise. DT can encrypt the sync store as well, but leaves other data on the NAS unencrypted obviously.

And please note that DTTG is dependent on iOS for it to perform background sync. It seems frequent use makes iOS prioritize the background behavior.

Thanks for the hint re encryption :slight_smile: Just realized that I cannot change it afterwards, so I need to move 1.1TB out of the NAS server onto an external drive and re-setup shared folders with encryption. Yay, lot’s of work.

Also, encrypted DT3 databases have a fixed size! Non-encrypted ones can grow as needed, encrypted ones have to be moved around if they fill up.

So maybe, you’re better off with filesystem encryption. Boxcryptor comes to mind.

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That’s not what I wrote: DT can encrypt the sync store, that’s not the same as creating an encrypted database on macOS.

Edit - to clarify these encryptions can be used independent from each other AFAIK:

macOS: encrypted or unencrypted database (by DT using a macOS sparsebundle)
macOS: encrypted or unencrypted disk (by FileVault, nothing to do with DT)
NAS: encrypted or unencrypted sync store data (by DT or DTTG)
NAS: encrypted or unencrypted disk (by NAS encryption, nothing to do with DT)

@BLUEFROG probably knows whether this is correct.

Whether you want to use all of them is up to everybody individually. Just think through what would happen if you loose the disk and/or your password.

I use FileVault encryption on my Mac and on my external hard drives. Plus will turn on encrypted folders on my NAS. That’s enough for me. Don’t want to turn on encryption in DEVONthink.