Using multiple sync methods with one or more databases

A question about the apparently acceptable use of more than one sync method for one or more databases (e.g., using Bonjour AND Dropbox syncing for a given database).

I say “apparently acceptable” since forum feedback seems to indicate so here and there.

Aren’t there bound to be many conflicts with such an approach, especially if sync is set to “automatic”?

Or is it the case that I could go ahead and not worry about this since there is some logic in place which aims to mitigate such problems? If there is, is there a practical limit on the number of simultaneous sync methods one could apply to a database?

I don;t know the answer to this :). I am using iCloud to sync my laptop to iphone and ipad. I am using a shared folder on my NAS to sync my laptop to my iMac. So in my configuration there isn’t any specific system that is being sync’d in two ways… and this is working just fine.

But I am not syncing my iMAC to my iOS devices right now which is a little painful. (The iMAC is new which is why the laptop is the one synced it iCloud.) I have wanted to sync the iMAC to iCloud also since it is my primary machine when I am not traveling — but have been afraid to based on the same concerns that you have noted.

Our sync engine is built to allow multiple sync locations and no, I wouldn’t be worrying about it.

A practical limit would be: The minimum number necessary.
For most people, that would be one.
Most people don’t need more than two.
And it is inadvisable to just add locations without forethought and need.

Also, I only suggest using a remote sync location when you really need one. Just having a cloud account, does not make it an optimal solution.

Related question… is it possible to use a different iCloud account to Sync each of two different databases on the same computer? Or can it only sync to the one iCloud account which that computer is regularly signed into?

iCloud is meant for personal use, so you can only sync to the iCloud account the computer is signed into.

How about Dropbox? Dropbox supports multiple accounts such as a Team account vs a Personal account. That is what I would like to accomplish with Dropbox - a Personal database only for me and a Team database synced with my team members. Is that possible?

Dropbox’s API does not allow DEVONthink to connect to more than one Dropbox account at a time.

A business account could be used, bearing in mind it is not directly supported and requires local drive space on each syncing machine.

Please open a support ticket if you’d like more information on this.

Thank you. If I needn’t worry about it, then your re-stated aversion to remote syncing accounts seems otiose, unless there are other factors you’re not mentioning. A simultaneous sync via Bonjour and via Dropbox seems reasonable, since the former would be used when I’m on my local network, while the latter would be used when I’m not, and I wouldn’t have to worry about remembering to switch between the two.

Thanks BlueFrog

For now I have gotten around this by using iCloud to sync my personal database and a separate WebDav account to sync my team database. If I want to set up my Dropbox team account I will do a support ticket later.

You’re very welcome @rkaplan

I set up a test database to test syncing via Bonjour and via a Dropbox sync store, and all seems to work all right, except just now I saw a log message on one machine: “Database busy”. This didn’t actually seem to affect synchronisation though, so I’m not sure what it implies.

It means the Bonjour server is busy syncing already. Bonjour only allows one active connection at a time.

Ah. Maybe I clicked the “Synchronize All” button in the toolbar whilst it was syncing, and that provoked that response?

Not necessarily. Bonjour will queue things up as it needs to. However, the port could have been detected as active.

Here is the setup I use daily without flaws on >9k files, small text files to large movies…

Work iPhone and Personal iPhone Global Inbox sync via Dropbox. (I can’t use iCloud b/c of corporate policies).

Personal iPhone, laptop, and Mac mini: all databases sync (including global inbox) through iCloud and Bonjour.

I often work without the internet so bonjour is great for the adhoc networks between devices.

My global inbox is sync’d via bonjour, iCloud, and dropbox on my personal iPhone.

This is the minimal setup I could have meeting the needs I have. Works flawless. I don’t just store but I have a lot of regularly edited markdown and pdf files in there.


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So I have databases being synced over Bonjour and over Dropbox, the idea being that the former will suffice when I’m connected to my local network, and the latter when I’m not.

That being so, am I right in thinking that, whilst I am connected to my local network, I can temporarily disable the Dropbox syncing until such time as I’m away and need it, by deselecting/unchecking the Dropbox ‘location’ in Preferences > Sync? Or would that have unintended consequences?

Sure you can, but…

  1. I’d say that’s unnecessary.
  2. Leaving both active will update the remote sync data as well.

OK thank you for clarifying that.

No problem.

It seems to me that the only problem with using both Bonjour and Dropbox simultaneously is that, if the other machine/database isn’t on the network, although Dropbox syncs OK, the UI makes it feel like the sync hasn’t happened, vis-a-vis Bonjour: the “not synced” dot appears next to the database and in the toolbar buttons (should that happen?), and the log reports that the database “isn’t on the server” (which of course is correct). So, although it probably has synced fine via Dropbox, you get these messages that it hasn’t, which is off-putting.