Use Devonthink for just indexing my NAS media collection? any negatives?

Hi all

i was thinking of using Devonthink to weekly index (for a simple “backup” of media names not content) of all my media files. Basically now i use a CLI script using the tree command to pipe that into a text file.

is there any disadvantages/negatives of doing so (performance hit, loosing data etc)?

thx alot


AFAIK, you cannot index file names only in DT, they will index compatible content as well.

I had that solution for a time. A local database that indexed a network mounted folder in my NAS, but it was dramatically slow to manage updates and access to files and ended with my current solution:

  • Indexed files are located into Dropbox folder (without SmartSync).
  • Sync database is inside my NAS via WebDAV
  • Local database (as always) containing the metadata and other DT stuff.

a belated return to this :slight_smile:

@BLUEFROG and @cgrunenberg , I’m not clear RE @rfog’s answer RE

you cannot index file names only in DT, they will index compatible content as well.

when I index external files (like my comic) collection it dosent pull Im all 300 GB of data into DT but rather just names (and metadata?)

so the question is can I also index other media/backups on my QNAP like my FLAC collection (~800 GB), Movie collection (~8 TB), Backups (~1 TB) etc in DT…or is that to crazy :smiley:

thx a bunch!


Well, who’s to say what’s crazy :smiley: In your case, I think the number of files would be more relevant than the total size of those files. From what I know, there should be no reason not to go ahead, although I would choose to do one folder at a time. The only disadvantage to what you are doing might appear if you sync - my understanding is that because DTTG cannot work with indexed files directly (because the file system on iOS is not compatible with this use case), indexed files are included in the sync store so that they could be made available to DTTG. I don’t know whether that applies to all file types, though; and I assume it makes not difference whether you have ever used DTTG or not (@bluefrog?). If so, your sync store would become gigantic.

Yes and not.

All will depend on the check status in sync database configuration: “Synchronise content of indexed items” (see capture).

If you have that enabled (it is enabled by default), file name, metadata and the file itself is uploaded into your sync repository. Disabled (as shown), it only uploads file name and metadata.

If unchecked, you cannot view the file in your iPhone/iPad, only search into metadata.

If checked, you then can download your file into your iPad/iPhone and read/modify it. But this has a handicap: to get back your modified file into your NAS or cloud, a desktop DT instance must be aware of the modification via sync and then drop and overwrite the file in destination. Due some limitations of file systems, there is a chance you get a duplicate file: the original unmodified one and the modified. And you MUST have in consideration another potential issue: if you modify same file in more than one iPad/iPhone at same time, you could generate a conflict (and thus, duplicate files depending on your configuration).

thx both @Blanc and @rfog !

I done ever intend to sync these files on the QNAP (media, movies, comics etc) just want to have the indexed in DT on the Mac for searching and “backup” (in case the QNAP dies and I need to know exactly what was there :)).
Does that make sense? if I understand correctly I can just turn off syncing for that specific DT database where I index the Qnap ?



Yes, syncing is optional so you can disable syncing ANY database as needed.

What kind of files are the comics?


mainly car/cbz/pdf

but I’m also considering indexing FLAC in my music folder, MKV in my media folder, tar.gz and zips in my backup folders etc, will that be an issue?


Bear in mind, part if the metadata gathered when indexing files is the text content of those files, if present. This can take a considerable amount of space. I’m not sure about the .car or .cbz files, but PDFs are certainly indexed if there is any textual content in them.

I get the “want” is to search, but not all the file types you mention may not have valuable search features, e.g. music other than title. And indexing the files is definitely not a “backup”.

If your “need” is to know exactly what was there, then perhaps every so often (scheduled job on NAS?) run a “tree” report on all the files. Save the output of that command to a file in DEVONthink, or print if you must. DEVONthink will index that file automatically for you, giving you a good inventory and knowledge of the NAS you “lost”.

And yes, index the stuff that gives useful search results.

Hi again

yeah I do have a tree command I run on the qnap and manually copy it to Qnap every few weeks for backup, just thought since I love DT try to get as much as I can into it :smiley:

so I understand that files that don’t have text in them (like mkv and flac’s) can relatively safely be indexed with not much overhead?

thx so much guys for all the tips and nice discussion really appreciate it!


What would you like to see in such an index? Colors, actor’s names, number of scenes, dialogue?

Honesty just the name/path for future reference if a catastrophe happens and I loose the NAS :slight_smile:

any other metadata is just a bonus :wink: (if there is no storage massive overhead :))



In that case DEVONthink’s indexing is definitely overkill. An app which collects just this information would be much more efficient (e.g. require less storage and less time).

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