Working only with a copy on an external drive

I do not want to sync, I want to make space on my poor little olde macbook. Is there any danger with putting a database on an external drive and keeping a small one only on my hard disk for collecting documents, or none at all?

For DEVONthink Pro or Pro Office, that can work well. Your Global Inbox database will be on your computer’s internal drive, and you can store your other database(s) on the external drive.

When the external drive isn’t mounted, you can add new content to the Global Inbox. When the external drive is again mounted, you can move the new items to your database(s) on the external drive, freeing up space on your Mac.

Don’t forget that you can put a Devonthink syncstore on your external drive to which all your Macs connect. That way you are working with a database on your internal drive, which avoids unnecessary lags due to slow connection to your external drive. If you have a spinning hard drive internally or externally the difference is huge but still noticeable with SSDs, which is what I am using.
You won’t have to worry about syncing manually either. Just instruct Devonthink once to sync to the syncstore every hour and before closing the database. Although I usually have six databases open, two of which over 2 GB, sync happens in the background and does not interfere with my work.
An added benefit: In case you forget your hard drive you’d be hosed if you relied on the database on the external drive. With the solution described above you have all your data available and can keep working, just don’t modify the exact same documents on different Macs before syncing the next time.
Another benefit: You would need to explicitly include the only instance of your DT database in your solution, which resides on an external hard drive ONLY where it can get damaged or lost easily. You’d have more than one instance of your databases (on internal drives => you do back these up, don’t you?) if you synced through a syncstore on the external hard drive.
Need more convincing? You can sync with as many Macs as you want.
I tried many different solutions and this is the one I am finally happy with because it is barely noticeable and does everything I need.


@Prion – thanks for the suggestion. To be certain – is this the configuration?

Yes, that is correct. Since the two computers are physically separate (office and home), they are not connected to the hard drive that syncs between them at the same time. To the best of my knowledge, even if they were that would not be a problem (but it would be more convenient to sync the two databases directly then).

I had originally intended to put that syncstore on my server but I have a large Aperture photo library and a Papers 2 library that sadly need to get synchronized through an external harddrive anyway so I would not win anything by doing that now, i.e. I could not leave that hard drive at home.

I have set it up like this:
When I get into the office I plug in that external SSD drive, Keyboard Maestro sees the drive and starts a Chronosync trial sync for all the data that have changed (Papers library, Aperture library). I go through the list of suggested changes and approve it, so everything is up to date a minute or so after my arrival.
During my work hours, Devonthink syncs hourly although I rarely notice that. For extra security I let Devonthink sync before closing the database but I usually just leave it running.
At a specific time, my screen darkens a little to indicate it is time to finish up, I hit the Keyboard Maestro macro “go home” and everything syncs back to the external hard drive, ejects it and locks the screen. Done.

It sounds laborious but it is really simple to set up.
When I find a better way to sync Papers 2 and Aperture I will explore syncing DTPO through my server. I did this initially by syncing home and office computers through a direct VPN connection. It worked in principle but as indicated here [url]How to avoid DTPO asking for sync code shown on remote Mac?] DTPO kept popping up with a request to input something on computer 1 that was displayed on the screen of computer 2. I never got a helpful reply how to avoid this but establishing a screen sharing session every second time totally defeated the purpose so I abandoned this strategy.
The less I need to think about keeping my setup running the better and my current workflow is a lot closer to that idea.