Tuesday Tip: Copy/Backup Intelligently

DEVONthink Pro databases are technically packages, folders that appear like a single file. When you simply copy them to another volume as a backup, the Finder always copies the whole thing. And so even do some backup applications, even though only parts of the database have changed. Try ChronoSync. It has the option to treat packages like files which allows it to peer inside the packages and only update the files that have actually changed. Command line fans will want to have a look at rsync (part of Mac OS X,) which intelligently copies only those parts of one or more folders that need to get updated.

11 Responses to “Tuesday Tip: Copy/Backup Intelligently”

  1. Arno Wouters says:

    I bought Chronosync because, unlike Synk which I previously used, it has the option to treat packages like files! I am not sure that treating packages like folders is a good idea. If you change one file at one computer and another file at another computer when you sync both computers no conflict will be signaled, as the result of which your database is corrupted (I had that problem once, with NoteTaker).

  2. Arno: True, changed in the copy above. Yes, either one should treat packages like files or the sync should be uni-directional, just like an “rsync”. Rsync is like a copy command, but copies only the changes, so that after the process the remote location will be identical to the local one. It is important to give it a direction. Bi-directional synchronization may do harm.

  3. Bob says:

    Hello Eric,

    Just bought Chronosync, perhaps a stupid question but were can I activate “treat packages like files”?



  4. In the Preferences, Document tab, make sure “Dissect packages” is unchecked. If this option is checked, packages are treated like folders.

  5. Jack Baty says:

    Eric, are you sure that’s correct? I think you want Dissect Packages *checked*, right? The tooltip says “Treat packaged folders as regular folders and examine their contents.” which seems to me to be the desired behavior.

  6. *sighs* Jack, right. I’ve had a closer look at ChronoSync again. So: The “Dissect packages” option should be checked to enable faster copies, and for the sync process, a direction needs to be set (left-to-right, right-to-left but *not* “Synchronize bidirectional”.) This is then like, e.g., rsync works.

  7. Bob says:

    ah thanks Jack for pointing to that one. Mistakes are easily made so gladly you corrected it

  8. Dan Heinze says:

    Seems like you are avoiding talking about the elephant in the room: Time Machine. Any progress there?

  9. Steve Wehba says:

    Is there an issue with using Time Machine to backup up DEVONthink databases other than it has to back up all the files in the package rather than selectively copying just those files that changed?

  10. Eric says:

    It’s not an issue but the way Time Machine works. Packages are backed up as a whole. Apple provides internal workarounds for its own products but does not allow third-parties like us do the same thing.