Thoughts on database setups from exp. users

Hi there, after having used the trial for a while I bought DTPO, and I use DTTG. I would like to put my whole life in it. I would like to hear how other users have set up their databases and what works and doesn’t work for them?
I would like to know why not to put everything in one database, and where people find it useful to have separate databases.
Currently I have databases for things like personal, college, research…


I’m using a similar setup and multiple databases (personal, emails, job, hobbies etc.). This makes it easier to e.g. use different sync and server (DEVONthink Pro Office) settings. In addition, I don’t need all this data at the same time usually. This improves also the performance, reduces the memory usage and makes See Also & Classify more precise compared to one huge database. And of course in case of a severe issue (e.g. broken sync store or damaged database) this causes less troubles & maintenance.


As Criss already touched on…
Smaller, more focused databases will generally perform better, initially sync faster, provide more positive hits in search and AI functions, and be more data-safe in the event of a catastrophe (avoiding the “all your eggs in one basket” problem) .
They also give you the opportunity to close unused databases when you’re not using them. This frees up resources, not only for DEVONthink, but the rest of the system. There is no benefit to having a bunch of unused databases open all the time.

Your current approach sounds like a good one to me.

In addition to the above helpful comments, I’d note that my organisation schemes actually change over time. For example, I have a mid-sized “Research” database. When I am working intensively on a given topic, I might move the relevant groups into their own database for ease of search. I can move them back into the main notebook when appropriate.

So, I’d encourage you to let your organisation system evolve with your needs.

I have one very large database that has been in use for years – it is my main database for a client I have had for years. As projects in that database age out, I transfer the data to an “archive” database for the same client so that I don’t keep old stuff hanging out in the main database.

The archive database is usually not open, but is Spotlight indexed so I can find stuff that lives there, via Spotlight, if I need to. Remember: Spotlight indices for your databases are really important.

Other than that I have an ongoing small database for household matters, and several other databases for personal research, and the like.

I also have a database I deliberately keep small as my main macOS <–> iOS database. Just easier to work the sync process that way, in my experience.

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Korn wondering if you have ever made a thread about all your scripts?

I have read you have made lots of helpful scripts.

New here….
Wish there was a thread exclusively of scripts, list of users scripts, not like it is right now, all scattered around.

…Another question.

How do I go about archiving a database on an external drive? Can Spotlight indices work when I plug in the external drive?

(will post an answer if requested, in a different thread)

Please start a new thread as this one is about setting up databases, not scripts and Spotlight. Thanks! :slight_smile:

Oops, sorry. I deleted the post.

Haha. No worries! :slight_smile:

Yes I’m aware this had nothing to do with scripts, but since I saw Krom didn’t wanted to miss the opportunity, I have read about his posts he has contributed a lot here.

I didn’t wanted to private message him, he would have think I was spam lol

But you are right and sorry.

Thanks Krom, yes I think we should start a scripting thread lol

One major consideration for me is how often I need to do a focused search. If I have a database that includes 30 different projects at various stages of development, I may have one or two that are large and very active. If I frequently need to search a word or phrase, the search will come up with all hits in the primary database. If it is important to limit the hits to just one project, it is better that it have its own database.

Thanks that’s really useful info.

So now I have 17 databased open on DTPO, of between 1.4gb and 2.2gb in size, (There’s no comparative view by which to see the number files in each database). We’ve been talking about the speed benefits of many smaller databases open over one large database. 17, however, seems excessive and I suspect I would like more, so - is there a limit to the number of databases before the speed slows down significantly? Should I be opening and closing databases and keeping the number of open ones under say, 10 or something? That would slow me down more than the computer - so much so that I would rather have one big one to chuck everything into.
More importantly - is keeping many databases open going to slow down the process enough that I am going to know the difference?
Am I going to notice the speed difference between one or two large databases and 17 tiny>small>small medium ones?
Same question for DTTG…

17? lol

I think you should use about 4 or 6

I have 5 the ones I use most. Other DB I keep it external I open them when I need to.

DTTG you could purge and only download what you really need.

Advice from @cgrunenberg in the past has been that it is the total number of “words” in the open database(s) that affects performance. I’m not sure where that was written now that we were migrated to this new forum.

I guess the other answer is “what works for you”? If you have bad performance on your machine, and it looks like DEVONthink is causing it, then shut something down. Everyone’s machine is different with whatever you’re running or doing. So, “you ought to do XX” is maybe not helpful. I cannot imagine what I would do with 17 databases simultaneously :laughing:, but you can and if that works for you, then go for it.

Over here, my current set up when I launch DEVONthink is 7 databases comprising about 2 million words. But that info is about as useful as saying “I’m 6’1” and you should be too".

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17? lol

I think you should use about 4 or 6

Umm… I currently have 12 databases open at this moment. :confused:

I guess the other answer is “what works for you”?

@korm is correct in this statement.

There is nothing wrong with having 17 databases, if it works for you and makes sense to you. In fact, smaller more focused databases allow you to manage resources by closing unnecessary databases.

That would slow me down more than the computer

It would slow you down how?

so much so that I would rather have one big one to chuck everything into.

That’s your prerogative but you’re also giving up the benefits of smaller, separate databases.