Workflow Question

The tl;dr is: I am overwhelmed.

The background:

I’m trying to move my stuff away from Evernote and into DEVONthink. My setup is a work MacBook, a home Mac mini, an iPhone and an iPad.

Ideally, I’d love to have my data on all of my devices, but reading some of the entries on this site have me doubting that decision.

I have a lot of Evernote data (11,000 notes and counting!), mostly stuff like scanned PDFs, some web clips, and a handwritten note or two. Lots of old email that I imported from mbox files that I sucked up from my Entourage archives.

Whenever I export it and attempt an import, DEVONthink will grind to a halt, but if I let DT sit, it will eventually complete the import. When I attempt to sync my databases by syncing using CloudKit, it will do bizarre stuff like upload 10 records at a time. Since there are 11,000+ notes, it will take some time to complete.

So, according to the manual, I need to download this cloudkit database to my other devices in order to use it, right? Am I allowed to sync up my phone, iPad, and Mac mini at the same time? Should this take several hours to complete? I have pretty fast internet at home (1 gig fiber in both directions), and decent connection at work.

I’m supposed to keep my phone and iPad awake the entire time that they are downloading this data, right?

The whole ordeal is generating a bunch of manifest errors on my iPhone, iPad and Mac mini. I clean and verify my database on my MacBook Pro, and DEVONthink reports everything being OK.

What am I doing wrong to have this be such a headache?

Why are you using CloudKit instead of Bonjour is all your devices are on the same local network anyway?

And: it seems that any other sync method is more reliable than iCloud.


I have a Mac Mini and iPad; also an Evernote refugee
No storage space problem; full data sync to all devices

I use the Bonjour sync option
Initial sync is brutal; yes, devices have to be on for the sync to complete


11,000 notes is a lot to process, especially if you tried to do it in one import.

I would ask if you ​need ​to use a remote sync option like CloudKit. There is a forum post discussing the options and considerations of the available sync methods: Sync Types Explained​
If you do need a remote option, CloudKit has not been very reliable for many people ​(including developers) ​for several months.​ You may want to consider an alternative.


I dunno. I’m trying not to keep stuff in too many places.

Good to know. But I d have to keep two devices physically nearby to sync, so work computer > iPad and when I get home, iPad > Mac mini?

plus the apps need to be active
It only takes minutes, but I often forget to do the sync before I leave

I am not sure if this will be helpful, but I think the question is really about data management. I’ve got terabytes of data, but that won’t realistically sync, because it would cost an arm and a leg for cloud services and none of my devices have enough storage anyhow. First, you may want to prune excess data.

I use external drives (three copies in three locations) to hold the bulk of my data. My “working” files I need to access at any time from mobile are in DT. I can search to find anything on the drives, so I barely have any “organization” at all on my drives. Sure, there are times when I wish I had my notes from an important meeting in December 2009 on my phone, for example, but usually, whatever it is can wait until I get to back to my computer.

As for DT, when I set up a database (I usually end up going over 100GB or so) I begin small with what I absolutely need at that moment (projects in progress). I get that synced (encrypted through Dropbox) and add a few things every day. That way, I barely even notice the “initial sync” lag. A few GB a day and in no time at all the database is “complete” (as much as any database ever is).