Sync strategy between Macbook, MacMini and iPhone


I have a MacMini (DT server) which is turned on permanently, MB pro (DT server) and an iPhone (DT to go).

I’d like: 1. Use MacMini to store the DB1
2. Use MB pro to access and populate the DB1
3. Use iPhone to access and populate the DB1. And also which way is better in regards of DT TO Go:
a) create a separate iPhoneDB and access it via MB pro and MacMini?
b) catch data on iPhone (photos, screenshots) and move it directly to the DB1?

I prefer direct sync.

  1. I’m not sure how you mean "access*, but you will not be accessing the database located on the Mini. Each device gets its own copy of the database but syncs to a commonly accessible location - in this case the Mini acting as the Bonjour server.

  2. If you create a database on the iOS device, you will have to enable it as a Bonjour server to allow at least the Mini to import it. It would actuallly be a bit easier to create the database on the Mini and import it to the other devices first.

Note: 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).

Here are the basic setup instructions for Bonjour…

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 the 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.

ok, thanks. Will it be possible to update my “synced between all devices DB” via iPhone? (I load pictures into DB stored in the iPhone, and those pics auto sync with Mac mini DB).

When you’re on your local network, yes. Sync is bidirectional by design.

An alternative might be to buy a NAS and sync to that with all devices.

Assuming a setup like this:

router - - - WiFi - - - MBP/iPhone

Your NAS requires at least WebDAV capability, but protocols like SMBv3 are handy might you want to access it with macOS (note SMBv1 is not supported by macOS).

In my personal experience using a central NAS is more reliable than the Bonjour method. Also Bonjour requires an open incoming firewall port on macOS as Jim mentioned, although you already run DT server which requires an open port as well I assume. Open ports on any OS (including the NAS) are considered a relative security risk, might your network get compromised. Think about malicious software like ransomware that might spread over your network.

Another benefit of the model above, is that all devices sync completely independent of each other, provided the NAS is online. If you want to shut down one or more devices, any other device keeps syncing to the NAS. When the device is back online, it will sync any differences made to the sync store. You might also use the NAS as storage for a network scanner e.g., and have macOS pull any newly added scans from the NAS.

Consider encrypting your data on the NAS, as that will render it useless in case of theft. If you’ve got a more advanced router and networking skills, you might want to place the NAS in a separate network and only allow established/related WebDAV traffic from your devices to mitigate the risk of any malicious network traffic.