Sync problems with DT

What is happening (and yes, i have internet connection)?

More info needed. What third party sync service on your internet connection are you using? While you say the internet is working, is the service available?

(My hunch is you are using Apple CloudKit or iCloud. Apple’s services, if you search the error message number here and for other apps is known to be unreliable. My guess you are experiencing that unreliability. Try another sync method.)

Yes, cloudKit!

What other service should I use. I depend on MacBook, Ipad and Iphone to be synced at all times.

Lately, that’s been a pain with CloudKit.

Whereby: how do other providers do that? How can it be that DT is so slow and can’t manage to update things in the background.
At least that’s the feeling I get. Before I leave the house in the morning, I deliberately sync all three devices. I have never done that with other providers.

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I rely on Bonjour. All explained in the outstanding “DEVONthink Handbook”



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CloudKit has been absolutely terrible since Christmas (and a long time before that for many people, but I personally had rarely had an issue before this past couple of months). There are lots of reports online about this.

It amazes me that a company as successful as Apple is completely unable to deliver a reliable syncing service! (Even for its own products - obviously lots of third party apps use CloudKit, but my Apple Notes hasn’t been syncing correctly on one device since December either, and that’s their own product! Also, unlike third party apps where you can -hopefully- switch to another sync mechanism, for Apple’s products you’re stuck :frowning: Anyway that’s neither here nor there, it’s just very frustrating!)

When I get round to it, I will be switching to Bonjour - which seems not complicated and which is often recommended here. As the CloudKit issues have persisted for years and don’t seem to be improving, I’ve given up and assumed Apple won’t be fixing it any time soon.


Update processes – and that has been explained here already time and again – are time-limited by iOS. If a bg process runs for too long, the OS kills it. Not exactly what one would want for a sync, I guess. To answer you question: DT perhaps can update things in the background. Just not reliably so. Which is, in my opinion, worse than having sync run in the foreground and reliably.

As @rmschne said, you might want to see if Bonjour isn’t a more reliable sync option for you. Remote sync is only needed if someone needs to access the data while it (the data) somewhere else. If you’re the only person working with it, there’s no need for CloudKit or another remote sync option.

BTW: I love the translation of “Wobei” by DeepL. Usually, they’re very reliable, it’s only in some situations where the original language shines through. Brightly, in this case.


Thanks for the replies and explanations. I have been having massive problems with it for the last 2 weeks. I didn’t notice it before.

End up spending too much time worrying about the problems in and around DT. For as a user first never mind why they exist and where they come from. I have daily countless messages that distract me and I do not want that.

I read briefly into the book. There are reasons why different sync options are offered. As a user with no technical understanding, I want it to be simple. I have little desire to read through many options (unreflective, I know).

What I want: I want to have all my important data on Mac, iPad and Iphone up to date. If I understand correctly, I can’t do this with Bonjour, because the devices have to be on the same network, right? I work mobile in different places, sometimes using the ipad, sometimes the MacBook. This must work. If not, I need another solution.
Yesterday I needed a file, but it didn’t load on the ipad- wtf.
This is not acceptable for me in my job.

Then use a reliable sync service. There’s no other way to it.

OTOH: You will have to learn about the software you’re using. Like you have to read the manual of your dishwasher, your microwave and your car or e-bike. Any sufficiently complex product requires a minimum of learning from its user. If that’s too much trouble for you (“I have little desire to read through many options”), then the product is perhaps not for you?

We gave you ideas about alternative cloud services. At minimum read what we told you.

I rely on Bonjour. I rely on everything to sync up upon return from ‘out and about’ to be ready when next “out and about”.

iOS devices are limited in space. If you have sufficient space and good WiFi, bless. If I need “everything” while out and about, I simply set the portable devices to download everything … or I take the Macbook which has sufficient space for everything.

For sure, Apple cloud services, in their present state, will not do what you say you need.


I want to have all my important data on Mac, iPad and Iphone up to date.

The question is: do you need it all up to date immediately.

I finally decided to switch my sync this evening. I’d been putting it off for a few weeks as I’d assumed it would be complicated.

Spoiler alert It was very easy!

I’ve switched from CloudKit to Bonjour. It took maybe half an hour to: read the manual, convince myself that I was capable of doing it correctly (an important step!) and change the sync on 3 devices (Mac, iPad and iPhone). It was fine. Don’t know why I put it off for weeks.


In summary:

I switched to Bonjour and yes, it went very easily. But…

I really like DT and think it is one of the best tool.

But the sync with Bonjour is also not acceptable. I’ll use my case from this morning as an example and be happy when a solution is presented:
I have not worked much with DT since the day before yesterday. Nevertheless it was necessary this morning to make a sync between Iphone/ Ipad and Mac. I guess it was about 20 files to sync. It took roundabout 30 minutes until all three devices were up to date. Why?

Why does DT sync databases that I have not worked on. Because that seems to be the problem. Databases were synced that were not updated by me, to which nothing was added. Yet DT “found” any new files it wanted to sync. Why?

I ended up waiting 30 minutes for my inbox and cancelled the sync because I had to change locations. Now this is not the first time

As a user, I want and need to have devices that sync quickly. That doesn’t seem to make sense with DT even via Bonjour.

I would like to be convinced :wink:

  1. Only one device at a time can sync via Bonjour. Other devices queue up and wait their turn.

  2. The sync is not just doing a file copy as you imagine. There is transactional data that is checked and reconciled for databases set to sync with a specific sync location.

  3. There is more to syncing than new or changed files. Removed files, moved files, label changes, metadata changes, reading positions in different file formats, etc. This is also a big difference than other sync methods that are doing simple, single file syncs, e.g., in iCloud Drive.

  4. The devices are independent entities. The sync data is not shared between them, i.e., if the iPhone updates via sync, it has no bearing on the iPad. The iPad doesn’t get a free pass because the iPhone synced already. Each device is synced and reconciled on its own.

to make a sync between Iphone/ Ipad and Mac

  • What are you carrying on both the iPhone and iPad?

  • Do you actually need to have all the same databases on both? There is no inherent requirement for this.

Thanks for the detailed explanation, bluefrog.
It was clear to me that it must be only one device that syncs and that’s fine for me too. But the duration -caused by the complexity- is not acceptable for me, even if I understand that it is good and you thought of something.

But in the end your answer makes clear: I will say goodbye to DT. I use different devices. Sometimes the Mac, sometimes the iPad, when I’m in meetings and create notes or also the iPhone to take notes or look things up on the go. And I don’t want to worry about where everything is now on it, where not, what I still have to sync, what not. And when I sync, it has to be fast for me and not take many, many minutes. That is also no longer up to date for me in 2023.

DT has made his decision, and that’s a good thing. Everything else must be decided by the user.

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