Switching sync from Dropbox to iCloud

Hi all, like some others, I have having issues with my Dropbox sync. From browsing the forum, it seems like no solution has been reached for this. I am considering just switching to iCloud, as all of my products are Apple, and it would probably make my life easier in other ways as well.

I just wanted to know two things:

  1. Are people experiencing the same issue with iCloud? Or is it working relatively well?

  2. Can someone please walk me through how to make the switch? In case it’s helpful, I’m using DTTG on my iPhone 11 and DT3 on my MacBook. I have a few months worth of files in my Global Inbox on DTTG that have not synced to my inbox on DT3.

Thank you as always!

It might work if you have very small databases

iCloud has different issues but just as frustrating as Dropbox

If you want it to “just work” then try CloudMe


16gb spread over 9 databases. Tons of small markdown files, lots of PDFs, and even a database of 200meg movies. Gotta love being about to choose which db’s sync to which devices!

Never had an issue with iCloud sync’ing. I’m sync’ing two Macs, an iPhone, and iPad.


Best to look in the Manual for the setup instructions. You can always add iCloud without removing Dropbox and see if syncing improves. Also setup Bonjour if your devices are on the same network. Bonjour works great for me and is much faster than Dropbox which I also have running. Dropbox normally has little to do as Bonjour did it all first.

Whilst I can’t (because I only use bonjour), I would suggest making a backup before any major switch (and every day of every week of every month of every year). Just in case.

The first question is: why are you looking at using a remote sync option? Do you actually need one?

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I have one database that is ~25gb. I did read about the efficiency of CloudMe. Issue is with Dropbox/iCloud I can get 2tb for $10/month, which allows me to sync my DT library but also store other important files in the cloud. I believe that for that price CloudMe only offers 100gb, and to get just 500gb would be three times as much. Tough to justify getting a CloudMe just for DT or spending three times as much for less space. But I’m also sad to learn that iCloud is also experiencing issues…

Interesting, thank you!

Setting up a new sync without removing the old one is a great idea. I often clip to DTTG while away from home, so not sure Bonjour will work for me?

I’m not sure, but I’d love to know your answer. I’m a fieldworker and I often clip important materials to DTTG while away from home/my MacBook. They don’t need to get in my database immediately, but they do need to get there at some point. Would Bonjour be a better option for me?

The basic questions here is does the file need to reach another device before I get home? Of course there are cases when that is in fact the case - but there are a number of use cases where it isn’t necessary. Bonjour will sync your device almost immediately if DT is open on your primary device (e.g. Mac) and you open DT whilst in the logged into the same network.

I do both Bonjour and Dropbox for the same reasons you say. When I’m in the local network, it just works. And fast due to Bonjour. When I’m away from the local network and rely on WiFi or phone data connection … yep, it just works. Due to Dropbox (and no Bonjour, of course). Why chose? No reason I know of. Use both. Don’t over-think it.

It doesn’t. This is great to know. It sounds like I have been unnecessarily complicating things with Dropbox. To transition to Bonjour, is it as simple as making that my preferred sync in DTTG and DT3 and then cleaning/removing the Dropbox sync?

is it as simple as making that my preferred sync in DTTG and DT3 and then cleaning/removing the Dropbox sync?

Mostly, yes.

Bonjour can be used to Sync between devices, IF:

  1. The devices are on the same network
  2. The network is private or one that allows Bonjour connections or non-standard ports. (Public and corporate WiFi sometimes disallow these.)
  3. Your firewall or an application like Little Snitch is Off or has exceptions added for DEVONthink’s traffic.
  4. Both devices are On and running DEVONthink / DEVONthink To Go 2 (and DEVOnthink To Go must be active, regardless of the Sync method).

Note: In situations where Bonjour traffic may be disallowed, you can connect an iOS device to your Mac via a standard Lightning cable to create an ad-hoc network for Bonjour syncing.

Here are the basic steps for a Bonjour setup (also covered in Help > Documentation > In & Out > Sync)

On the server Mac…

In DEVONthink on the Mac acting as the server…

  1. Preferences > Sync > Bonjour Options
    • Check Enable Incoming Connections.
    • Leave the Port blank unless you have a known port to assign.
    • Enter a mandatory Password. You will use this when connecting on the other devices.
  2. Leave DEVONthink running.

On a client Mac…

In DEVONthink on the Mac acting as the client…

  1. In Preferences > Sync you should see the server Mac available.
  2. Check the checkbox to enable the connection and enter the Bonjour password you specified on the server Mac.
  3. Databases that are open on both Mac will be shown in the Local section. Enable ones you want to merge and sync.
    Databases that aren’t open or are importable are shown in the Remote section. Double-click databases to import them, saving them to the ~/Databases folder in your Home directory.

On mobile…

In DEVONthink To Go…

  1. Go into Settings > Sync: Locations
  2. You should see a sync location for the Mac. Click the green plus button next to it.
  3. Set the options per your choice and touch Save.
  4. Enter the password you entered on the Mac.
  5. When it has connected, touch the sync location to show the databases list and flip the switch next to databases you want to import.
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Wonderful, thanks as always @BLUEFROG. I followed your instructions and the global inbox is up and running again. As @rmschne suggested, I’ll go ahead and keep the Dropbox sync for an additional channel/backup as there doesn’t seem to be any disadvantages to that. Thanks again all!!

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You’re welcome.
Have a good weekend.

iCloud has been very broken for me. Not just for devonthink sync but for pretty much anything. Sync taking forever, sometimes it just doesn’t work. So I’d say give it a shot. It might work or it might not… Dropbox has actually worked a lot better for me than iCloud but I was getting very slow syncs sometimes.

I switched from Dropbox to CloudMe a few weeks ago and things have been running incredibly smooth and fast ever since. Based on those two weeks I can definitely recommend that as the best cloud sync option for devonthink.

In fact CloudMe works a lot better than Bonjour in my experience. With Bonjour I often get “database busy” errors and also a bunch of errors when I’m on a different network to my other devices. I’m always connected to the internet though, so a cloud solution clearly > * IMO.

I’m curious. Why are you bothered by “database busy” notices? My understanding is that the syncing checks if the database is busy doing other things which interferes with a synch, so it’s quite normal? Or do you think that’s an error and a problem? Just curious.

This would prevent multiple users from editing the database in collaboration - something I do regularly.

But if DEVONthink is protecting itself from such a thing (simultaneous edits), why is this a problem?