Using an external drive for large (45g+) database

The database that I’ve been assembling for my book is getting huge. It’s now over 45 gigs. It takes forever to sync between the two laptops that I use.

I’ve been thinking about putting it on an external hard drive that I move between machines. The other posts on using external drives refer to smaller databases (less than 10 gigs). I’m wondering if anyone has tried to use such a large database from an external hard drive and if there is anything I should watch out for.

I was considering getting the ScanDisk wireless media drive ( … PDKIKX0DER)but would happily take other recommendations.


I don’t see any issue with the larger drive but I am curious why you are trying to keep all 45GB in Sync between two machines.

Running DEVONthink databases from a portable drive that is mounted on a Mac when used avoids worry about sync of data on two or more Macs. Indeed, from a quality assurance perspective it is more reliable than using sync software to resolve database differences among multiple Macs; for one thing, there won’t be conflicts to resolve. (Of course, as always, the user should maintain backups of the database(s) on a different storage medium.)

A portable hard drive or SSD (with USB2, USB3, FireWire or ThunderBolt connectivity (in order of increasing speed) if compatible with both Macs) can meet your requirements. Do not consider a wireless network device for your needs, as data transfers would be slower (the SanDisk you cited connects to Macs via USB2; it would work, but you can buy much larger and heavier duty portable drives for that price).

Even a thumb drive could serve for light duty use (the SanDisk, basically, uses thumb drive hardware). But thumb drives simply don’t have the reliability of a conventional portable HD for heavier use that involves a lot of write cycles to the device.

Personally, I wouldn’t have a problem with using a thumb drive as a device to move a database or other data files from one computer to another, i.e., to copy files. But I would want a faster and more reliable drive for hosting databases that are to be opened and run on the portable device. I often hammer my databases pretty hard, involving a lot of writes and reads.

Blue Frog, I’m writing a book and the database contains all of my documents for the project, most of which are photos I took at various archives. I was syncing the database, so that when I call up all the documents from March 1941, I get the same results no matter which computer I’m working on. That way I won’t miss something.

Bill, thanks for the advice. Much appreciated! I’m going to look for an external hard drive with a FireWire. And yes, the database is backed up–in two places.