Server edition ... usable for remote workers?

Page 264, Take Control of DevonThink 3 (1.8)

Note: By default, unless the Mac on which you’re running DEVON- think has its own publicly routable IP address, your database will be visible only inside your internal network. It’s possible to work around this by using techniques such as port forwarding, but that’s beyond the scope of this book. Consult your router’s documentation.

Also: What is the best to set up DEVONthink so that my research assistant and I can access the same database? - #3 by chrillek

Set up a Sync store on iCloud or a Synology NAS drive with WebDAV or Dropbox - then install DT3 on each computer and sync to the same sync store.

I bought the server edition, thinking it would help me to allow remote workers access to a shared database. Apparently I was incorrect. The server edition allows people on the same network (router) access. If that is the only use of the server edition, I will be asking for a refund and a downgrade back to DevonThink Pro.

My thoughts now are to follow @rkaplan advice to set up a Synology NAS drive with WebDAV and sync to that store.

There are fairly full instructions on setting up port forwarding on pp. 76–8 of the DEVONthink manual. I’ve thought about setting this up but haven’t so far needed it; it doesn’t look too difficult, as long as you have a manual for your router to hand.

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Given the security hole that a publicly accessible route to your database would represent, it’s not surprising that DT Server doesn’t establish such a route by default.


Have you looked into Tailscale? You can install it on multiple computers and give access to servers on the local network that way, without mucking around with your router. It’s free.


As with every server, it has to be accessible. Your assumption that DT server is only accessible for people „on the same network“ is trivially true, again as for every server.
The server does not define your network setup, you do. You can use VPN or port forwarding or a bunch of public IP addresses – your choice. But
not the server’s task or function.
And you’d have to make your NAS accessible as well, with a VPN, port forwarding or a bunch of public IP addresses. Same thing. Because that’s a server, too.
The real difference is that with DT Server, you’re using a browser whereas with the sync approach, you’ll need DT licenses.

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DevonThink server allows others to use the browser, without having DevonThink installed on their computer. this would be useful for windows users as well as Linux users. The disadvantage is that the users would not have their own independent version of DevonThink running on their systems. For those to access over the internet, would require making certain ports open on the router. Vulnerabilities are opened up regarding security in doing so.

Sync approach requires each user to have a ‘seat’ and a mac system to install DevonThink on. The location of where the shared database is saved would be on the NAS publicly opened port. Vulnerabilities are opened up regarding security in doing so.

That’s not the only solution. One could also use a VPN or public IP addresses. Port forwarding and public IP addresses come with security issues, VPN should avoid those. But a VPN is usually more difficult to setup and manage.

There is no shared database with a NAS. There’s a sync store and every user has their own copy of the database. I know that sounds like nitpicking, but it’s important to understand the concepts to avoid misunderstandings.

Like “the location … would be on a publicly opened port”. That makes no sense:

  • The database(s) is/are not “shared”.
  • No database “is on a port” unless you use the DT server (even in that case that’s a rather incorrect statement, as the only thing being “on a port” would be the server). In the case of syncing with WebDAV and a NAS, the WebDAV server is “on a port”.
  • As you do not have a database on the NAS but only a sync store, third parties would need DT and your NAS/sync access data to use your database.

And as I said before, port forwarding is not the only solution. It’s the one that is easiest to implement and cheapest.


Also, a DEVONthink database cannot be accessed by multiple people simultaneously. This a well known and long-standing limitation.

If a database was stored on a NAS location, and multiple people sync’d their copy of the database on their local computers, … how does DevonThink handle two users making edits to their local copy, and that change being sync’d at the same time?

Are there online examples of each of these, related to DevonThink? Please share the links if available for each type.

So, if one uses on of the methods you described above, other people can use a browser and view, made edits (if permitted by the server admin), to the database.

Do you know of any online resources of any users of DevonThink whom set up their server in one of the above methods you described? If so, can you please share here.

This is a reason I think making devonthink to go available to install on a Mac would be useful. The shallow sync option would be a good use case for users on a Mac that don’t necessarily need all the options of full DT. (specifically thinking my wife, where I’m considering server edition just so she has an easier interface to access but then I need to keep my Mac on at all times. But with my synology NAS with the sync store, buying her a copy of DTTG for $40 and putting on her Mac would allow her to get to files if she needed in an emergency. I think it would be a bit more “lightweight” option than server use).

I was under the impression that DTTG is only for iOS devices (iphone, ipad). How can this be installed on a Mac computer?

It can’t…that’s my point I want it to be.

Developers can allow iPad apps to be installed on any M1/M2 etc macs because it’s the same chips. From what I understand this just requires the developer to allow this.

extra seats are on sale this weekend. around $75, which is not too far away from $40

Is not the price, it’s the idea of shallow sync which I prefer that DTTG for this use case. DT does not have this option.

A VPN is not specific to DT, nor are public IP addresses. And VPNs can be set up in a number of ways. The easiest would be if your router could work as a VPN server, like FritzBoxes can do.

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This is not something we are considering. DEVONthink and DEVONthink To Go are not the same application and macOS ≠ iOS.

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The other consideration to bear in mind is whether the (significantly) more limited feature set of the browser-based interface to DT Server will be adequate for what you’d like your remote users to be able to do with the database. If you haven’t already done so, it would be worth running DT Server on your local network and trying out the kinds of task you’d like them to be able to do. (You can do this from a browser on the same Mac that DT itself is running on.)

I am asking for a list of other people that have done some work regarding getting DevonThink usable over the internet. This is a use case scenario that a number of people would like to try.

This list could be presented as “opinions of other people, that do not reflect DevonThink’s opinion, and no warranties apply. Use at your own risk”

I expect you’ve already done this, but a search of this forum is a good place to start. Here for a starter is @chrillek’s own guidance on How to use Synology NAS as sync store, and this thread on port forwarding has some useful-looking if router-specific troubleshooting.