What is “the best” sync strategy?


I have several databases (~10 GB in total) comprised primarily of PDF files. I use the iOS and Mac apps fully and frequently switch devices.

Now that iCloud sync has been available for a while, would anyone be able to comment on what the “best” sync method is, meaning the fastest, most reliable and most robust? Dropbox? iCloud? WebDAV with a roll-your-own data store? The cost is less important to me than having it work all the time. I know they all have their strengths and weaknesses, but I’m wondering if there is an agreed upon “best practice” among expert users. Thanks in advance.

There isn’t a “best" sync method and it also depends on the actual needs.

Here’s how I view it: Do you need to keep devices in sync quickly or not? And that’s a “need”, not a want question.

If you do need it and the machines and devices are on the same network, go for Bonjour.

If they’re not going to remain on the same network, then you’d be looking at a remote sync option, all of which come with inherent weaknesses due to network conditions, slow / unresponsive servers, bandwidth throttling measures employed by cloud services, etc. Generally, they work well but these are factors that should be considered.

If you don’t need them quickly synced, go for Bonjour and sync when you’re back on the same network.

PS: In general, I personally do not suggest running your own WebDAV server, unless you’re more technically inclined. This is especially true, if you’re wanting to access it outside your own network.

I use WebDAV for sync – not a server I run on my local network, but a WebDAV location on the cloud-based server where I run my corporate website and email. I do that because it’s a space I control and because I can. It’s not faster or better, it’s just about control.

Thanks, I appreciate the detailed reply. I am technically inclined, so running my own WebDAV server would be an option.

Unfortunately (for my syncing needs, anyway :smiley: ) I frequently roam between networks, and need to be able to sync reliably from anywhere. Typically, my Mac is at home and my iOS devices come with me to work.

I am guessing the answer to my question is probably iCloud or Dropbox. I have been using iCloud and it seems to work so far. The reason for my question is that I have seen reference to various syncing issues inherent to iOS (background app run time limitations, for example), relative to which I’m wondering if there’s a clear best option. Thanks again.

Background App Refresh would apply to any sync method, and it’s controlled (and terminated) by iOS, not DTTG.

iCloud is easy to set up and likely the devices are already logged into it. That doesn’t make it better or sync faster.
Dropbox is at least as good, but YMMV with any remote sync option.

Is it consider bad-practice to enable multiple sync services? (i.e., Bonjour and iCloud)

Nope. Our sync engine is built to allow for it, especially since a service like iCloud is only for personal use. Collaborative syncing requires a secondary sync option.

Interesting. Maybe then a good way to do it woudl be to enable both iCloud and Bonjour for my databases. That way I could “limp along” with iCloud when I’m remote, but when I get home and everything’s on the same network Bonjour’s more robust sync could participate.

It seems like conflicts might develop between the sync methods when more than one is used? (I suppose they do, which is why there’s an option to duplicate documents with sync conflicts…)

How do I know when DT database contents have been fully uploaded from the local (mac) synch store to iCloud? At the moment I’m simply comparing file sizes (local versus iCloud storage data; but is there a better way to know when it’s safe to start synchronizing a second device (IOS) with the iCloud site?

but is there a better way to know when it’s safe to start synchronizing a second device (IOS) with the iCloud site?

Not really. iCloud is a black box in many ways and checking System Preferences > iCloud > Manage > DEVONthink To Go is the only easy way Apple gives people access to this information.

which sync method is best…
iCloud CloudKit or my own WebDAV server ?

There is no best sync method. This is no different than asking ”what’s better: Chevy or Ford… or Ferrari?”

See this post…

Hi, sorry to dig up an old thread but I have come across an issue I am trying to solve.

The issue is related to syncing index folders on a local store.
I work between 2 (sometimes 3) macs. I have my database on my mac mini at home. I then have an identical folder on my portable ssd to which I sync my database. I then use that ssd to work on my office or macbook occasionally.

But I have all of my zotero resources indexed into a folder in Devonthink. The indexed folder’s path is on my home mac mini. So, when I run both zotero and devonthink off the ssd at the office or macbook, the indexed folder doesn’t update when I add items to Zotero.

  • That is, as zotero run on the office or macbook has a different path file to the one registered on the mac mini at home.

Is there an option I am missing to fix this.

Or, is my best solution to run all of my programs’ databases and storage (zotero, devonthink, scrivener etc) from the portable ssd?

  • perhaps this is the easiest solution as I wont have to “sync” between terminals as all terminals will have the ssd as the base directory.

Looking forward to your suggestions.

PS, I will finally be buying a license for DT3 after trialling it. Looking forward to discovering it:s potential (despite me only needing it as a repository and note taker!).

I guess the simplest is to run everything with databases and indexed files on the SSD. Yes, paths to indexed files need to be the same. There are other approaches, of course. However, being (I’m assuming) it is connected to your Mac via USB wire, those types of disks are more prone to failure. Develop an outstanding backup regime, please.

If this is all you are using it for, why are you indexing Zotero files? Why have that complexity if not used?

PS: best to start a new thread and not hijack an old one.

I wanted to “hijack” this one because the issue I have is similar. I am looking for a recommended syncing strategy.
I bought a SSD so I could work between numerous computers. I don’t like paying for cloud storage and I don’t always have internet access (although most of the time I do).

As for DT being repository, I like/need the referencing system of Zotero, which Devonthink doesn’t offer. I don’t want to double up files (imported in both Dev + Zot) and I don’t like the idea of having files available in one database and not in another. So it seems the indexing is the best way to use the two programs.

But as you’ve asked the question, perhaps I don’t need Devonthink at all. I was using Scrivener and Zotero for doing my phd - using Scrivener for both writing and research. Perhaps I’m covered with those two.

  • Although I do need to use items/sources for things other than academic research, where DT comes in handy.

P.s. I have a decent back-up system. Clones/bootables on multiple HDDs, with cloud and time machine back-up for all.