syncing between multiple macs

Hi all,

Just to make sure I am working with “best practice” and not setting myself up for problems in the longer run: could anybody suggest what the best method is to keep a database synced between multiple macs?

Set-up: iMac at the office, iMac at home, MacBook Air for when I am on the go/in the library. 2 growing DT databases: 1+GB for research, 2+GB for teaching (both PDF heavy).

Dream scenario: seamlessly syncronising my Devonthink databases between all three machines.

I have 10TB of space on Googledrive, and a tiny Dropbox account. So I thought that I could set up a sync store on Googledrive. I must have done something wrong because I get a “duplicate database” warning for one of the machines. I am happy for these to be merged, but the message keeps coming up with every (automated or manual) sync.

Would it be possible to have the DB itself on Googledrive? If not, what would you suggest?


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No, you cannot host a database on a cloud server as the mechanisms are not built for this type of file.

You can use our Sync plugin to use Dropbox if desired. I’ve also used the Sync plugin with’s WebDAV with very good results (and I’d opt for this personally).

You can do Direct Connection Syncs between machines since at least two are portable.

You could also use an appropriately sized USB drive and local syncStores.

Don’t use remote Syncs just because you have a Dropbox (or other) account. Optimally, use them when machines cannot get geographically closer to each other or when data has to be Synced sooner rather than later (and this is often not the case).

Thanks for the answers- I’ll play around a bit with those.

I don’t think I have enough space left in my dropbox account to satisfy the Sync plugin’s need for temporary space. Direct connection looks promising, one of the machines is indeed portable so that one can act as go-between.


So far, I haven’t had 100% reliable results using the Sync plugin with Box’s WebDAV. Every now and then I get results like this:

This is frustrating because I have three machines that I work with: a home laptop, an office desktop, and an office laptop. Carrying around a USB drive is not ideal nor in my habit to do so. I have forgo this kind of clunkiness by using a Box enterprise account (through my university) so all my work folders and a few personal folders (not including DEVONthink database) are synced directly through Box.

I also don’t carry my personal laptop to work. It strictly either stays at home or is with me when I am on non-work runs.

When I get in to work, I’d like to be able to seamlessly get into my DEVONthink database and clip, annotate, take notes, whatnot without having to carry around a USB drive. When in my office, I use the desktop. When in meetings or on the go I carry the office laptop. And yes, we have tons of meetings going from building to building.

I like to have my machines synced twice whenever I use them: when I first open DEVONthink and when I close it.

I hope a more robust method of synchronization is developed. In the past two days since I started using DEVONthink seriously again, I’ve had to use the “clean” command (under sync) quite a number of times in order to get rid of those errors listed from the sync log. That is clunky.

I have yet to see an issue personally.

A USB drive is not clunky. Carrying 64GB in a device smaller than my pinky finger, easily fitting in my pocket, is elegant. The “cloud” is not available everywhere - indeed, it’s not available in MANY places. You can choose as you like but I personally like the fact that I can carry (and Sync) my entire databases and transport them in my pocket.

PS: A local syncStore is much, much faster to Sync than any remote Sync option, especially with multi-gigabyte databases. Just sayin’.

I’m not the Original poster but…

I agree that the cloud is not always available (not to mention the security issues) but disagree about USB drives. They are a poor substitute for clean sync between devices easily.

I guess you’ve never had to deal with the following issues that point out the issues with USB drives.

Clothing with no pockets
Lint clogging up the drive works
Loss of drive contents due to media failure (happens more times than I can count)

FWIW I synch 2 computers, iPad and iPhone with DT but I do all my syncs in one location and then take the portable devices wherever I need to go.

It’s not as easy as I would like but does work.

Not sure how to adapt that to 2 separate locations with desktop machines though.

In the OP’s case a cloud system is elegant if you can make it work because being fixed in place the 2 desktops will have the same type of access to the cloud all the time.

Blue frog-thanks for the tips!

Smart to make a database to go on a USB stick. Great complement to the iPad and iPhone until the new version of DTTG a is ready.

Can even be encrypted and easily just be moved to a work computer.

I have bad experience with loosing information in the cloud and I really don´t want all my info just a password away.

Love wifi sync inside my own network.

I would however like to see a password protected option to my databases in DT and hope that is on its way in next version.

This is already possible.

File > Database Properties > {yourDB} and it’s at the bottom of the Properties Panel.

Ok! Does it sync over to my iPad?

Have you tried syncing a password protected database to your iPad?

No but I will!

Read somewhere that it did not work and should be avoided. Will create e new one and try.

Works fine, although password protection in DEVONthink is (currently) so weak that it will only deter a casual attempt at accessing your database.

I don’t know who wrote that it doesn’t work, but just searching the extensive manual and experimenting with the app will really leverage your use of DEVONthink. There is just so much depth in the app that will never be uncovered otherwise.

Has anything recently changed regarding this issue? I have had DTPO databases in iCloud for more than a year, and I haven’t noticed any problems. Just recently, DTPO has been throwing up warnings about that. Is there a good way for us to access the same database from multiple Macs? … the usb method seems awfully inelegant. I am careful never to have DTPO open on more than one Mac at a time.

Thanks for any feedback!


@Keith: We’ve been warning not to place DEVONthink database files in Dropbox or other cloud location for years. Damage can result. It may or may not be detectible by the Verify & Repair procedure, and it may be unrepairable.

The current Sync procedure can, however, safely store the Sync store in Dropbox if that option is chosen. Other Sync options include WebDAV, direct sync between Macs or storage of the Sync store on a local mounted disk.

Now that Sierra gives the option to store your Mac’s Desktop and Document folders in iCloud, we recommend that if this is happening, your DEVONthink database files be moved to another location, such as your User Library – perhaps in a new folder named, e.g., DT databases and placed at the top level of the User Library or within the Application Support folder.