DEVONthink sync technology — public beta 2

Sync icon

In June we announced the first public beta of our sync technology for DEVONthink. For several months now, we’ve focused on making our sync technology reliable and easy to use regardless of your situation. Whether you have several small text-only databases or several large databases with gigabytes of PDFs, whether you use Dropbox or WebDAV or a direct connection (or all three!), whether you’re using a low-bandwidth mobile network or a corporate intranet, you should be able to rely upon Sync to safeguard your data.


Receipts: Sync now encodes an abbreviated representation of the database every time it transfers your data. This allows much faster syncs; minor updates to databases with tens of thousands of items will now take seconds instead of tens of minutes. It also allows Sync to determine if a previous sync failed and retry it, regardless of when the failure occurred, and degrades gracefully (the “degraded” pre-receipt comparison mechanism also performs upwards of eight times faster).

Locking: Sync uses lockfiles to protect the remote copy of a database from other clients during synchronization. These lockfiles are now maintained by a dedicated subsystem and gracefully detect and respond to tampering, misbehaving clients, network issues, and unexpected interruptions.

Transactions: Sync’s transaction-handling has been improved to ensure greater reliability. On the remote side, this means that operations are guaranteed to be performed in order. Locally, it means that cancellation is cleaner, faster, and safer than ever before.

Networking: Sync’s networking code is much more robust now; failed connections are retried automatically (and invisibly), with safeguards to protect against out-of-order operations and remote race conditions. Direct connection syncs use less memory and occur faster than ever before (don’t blink, you’ll miss it!). Dropbox operations adapt better to site outages, concurrent access from other clients, and latency when accessing Dropbox from outside the US. WebDAV connections are more forgiving of non-standard implementations and overloaded shared servers.

Security: Sync now works hand-in-hand with DEVONthink’s database-level protection system, helping to prevent unauthorized access to your data.

Interface: Sync’s user interface has been polished to integrate it better with DEVONthink. Log and error messages are clearer. Progress and preference windows have changed to incorporate user feedback.

Compatibility: Sync is now fully compatible to DEVONthink in 64-bit mode.


So, here’s the second and, in our plans, last public beta of our sync technology that allows you to synchronize databases directly between your Macs, indirectly via e.g. shared folders on a USB stick, external hard drive, or a server on your network, or via Dropbox or any WebDAV account.

How can I get it? First make sure your system meets the requirements. You’ll need an Intel-based Mac with OS X 10.6 or later and DEVONthink Pro or Pro Office 2.4.3 (click here to download the latest version).

Then click Sync Plugin 1.0 public beta 2 or right-click the link to the left and choose Download Linked File. The public beta comes as a Zip archive. If necessary double-click the downloaded file to expand it. The archive comes with a Read Me file containing the installation and usage instructions as well as a list of known issues and instructions on how to report issues and file feature requests. Please thoroughly read the Read Me file. No kidding. Enable console logging (see Read Me). And look left and right before crossing the street.

Important: If you update from the first public beta make sure to manually delete your old sync store, e.g. on Dropbox, before proceeding. For Dropbox best use the Dropbox website and look into the “Apps” folder.

What should I do? Please test this public beta with copies of your databases in any way you can: directly between Macs, using Dropbox, WebDAV, or folders on servers or external media. Write down any difficulties you encounter as well as anything you think should be changed or added. Tell us your experiences. And if it crashes, send us the crash reports. The Read Me file tells you how to do that and what is most helpful for us to know.

What’s next? The final release as part of a major update to DEVONthink.

42 Responses to “DEVONthink sync technology — public beta 2”

  1. Jason says:


    I’m going to try the sync plugin later but I have a quick question…
    If I use Dropbox to sync, does this mean I’ll effectively have two copies of the database on each machine?

    Many thanks!

  2. eboehnisch says:

    No, you can exclude the Apps folder in your Dropbox app. Then you will have the sync store only on Dropbox but not mirrored.

  3. Onno Bakker says:

    Been waiting for this 😉 switched back to 64 bit and uploading to dropbox now. My main database failed with beta1. So far so good…

  4. Chris says:

    “No, you can exclude the Apps folder in your Dropbox app. Then you will have the sync store only on Dropbox but not mirrored.”

    Can you explain this in more detail?

  5. resting says:

    Hm…I don’t understand how this sync works.
    Is there any pictorial that explains how this sync works?
    Do we need to host the database on our own WebDav or Dropbox?
    Does it sync with mobile?

    I’m currently using Dropbox to sync across computers and Devonthink To Go for mobile.
    While the Dropbox hasn’t given me much problem as long as I make sure I close all databases and quit DTP before shutting down, syncing to mobile has been a pain especially when I tried renaming the groups in DTP.

    How would this sync benefit me?

    Definitely looking forward to a more complete sync solution rather than relying of 3rd party services.
    But even if it has to, as long as it just works, it’ll be awesome.

  6. Joel says:

    I didn’t see it mentioned so am I right in assuming this does not synch between a Mac and an iPad? If not, is that in the works?


  7. Lex says:

    Thanks so much. I set it up via Dropbox. Works Perfect. I have no words to tell you how much I was waiting for this.

    It didn’t want to work with webdav.

    Thank you so much again.

  8. ericdano says:

    When you say WebDAV account, is that only on a Mac?

    And on a network drive, is that only on a Mac or can it be on an NAS? Does it have to be AppleShare or can it be NFS or CIFS/Samba?

    It would be really really great if there was some way to access something like DevonThink via a NAS like Synology’s stuff. Synology has amazing stuff on their NASes, like an Audio and Video app that I can access all my stuff on my NAS remotely.

    The only thing missing is some way to store and be able to search PDFs and documents…..And having DevonThink be able to sync a common database with multiple Macs is a step towards a solution for me.

  9. eboehnisch says:

    In the Dropbox menulet choose Preferences. Choose the Advanced tab. Click Selective Sync: Change Settings. Uncheck Apps. Done.

  10. eboehnisch says:

    @Lex: Please mention this to our developer (see the Read Me). Thank you!

  11. eboehnisch says:

    @Joel: Yes, this is planned for DEVONthink To Go 2 (already in the works).

  12. eboehnisch says:

    @ericdano: No, you can use either WebDAV directly or any volume that you can mount. If you can mount your NAS, you can use it.

  13. eboehnisch says:

    @resting: We will have a video tutorial shortly. In general: the sync via our solution is by far faster and more safe than storing the database directly on Dropbox as it syncs record-by-record instead of uploading monolithic indexes. What do you mean with “more complete solution”?

  14. David Shulman says:

    I’m still not sure this addresses the way I store my files and use DevonThink.

    My files are (mostly) INDEXED and not in the DevonThink database itself. The INDEXED files are already in DropBox. So the files are already synced between everywhere because of Dropbox.

    How does this work with the DevonThink sync?

  15. […] wurde ebenso verbessert wie das Transaktionshandling und die Sicherheit der Daten. Der Originalartikel enthält weitere Details sowie diesen link für den Download der neuen […]

  16. resting says:

    @eboehnisch I see. Great, looking forward to the video tutorial. By “more complete solution” I mean a sync function which doesn’t require manual intervention and just work. I should be able to access the updated contents across computers and on mobile automatically. The current sync with Dropbox, or DevonThink To Go isn’t perfect as I mentioned previously. So hopefully this sync technology could make up the lapse.

  17. Afshin says:

    Has Google Drive been considered to be an option for syncing location?

  18. Yes, we have it in mind. When we started the project it simply didn’t exist yet.

  19. BillW says:

    Very happy with this, I couldn’t get it to work with Dropbox previously, but seems to be working perfectly now. I did discover that Dropbox accounts are throttled by default, if you go to Dropbox preferences then Network & then Bandwidth you can remove this restriction

  20. Young says:

    Great job!
    It works perfectly with dropbox. Now, we need iphone sync!

  21. eboehnisch says:

    @Young: Already in the works 🙂

  22. Onno says:

    When trying to import a database devonthink keeps crashing. I sent email to

  23. Onno says:

    When trying to import a database devonthink keeps crashing. I sent email to bugs at

  24. Warren says:

    My main DT program is on my iMac 27″ machine. I installed the synch 2 beta for the first time and synchronized my one and only data base to my dropbox account.

    I did this because I want to access my DT database from my MacBook Pro. I assume that I will also have to add Synch 2 to my DT program on my MacBook Pro and after that how do I connect my database to my MacBook Pro? Is there a FAQ or other information on connecting multiple Macs by using Synch 2?

  25. eboehnisch says:

    Exactly, add the sync plugin also to the second machine, add Dropbox as a location in the Sync preferences, and use Import Database to download the database to your machine. There will be a help chapter about sync in the final version, of course. I am just writing it 🙂

  26. Warren says:

    QED: Thank you very much for the help. The process is straight forward and I completed it without a problem. Your new help chapter will make it a snap.

    Just another note. I’m a retired, 72 year old, active guy with residences in Montreal Quebec and Palm Springs California who visits family in Virginia. I’ve used various programs in the past to keep my life in order and migrated my database of every document I own to DEVONthink Pro Office a few months ago. Your program, along with my two Scan Snap S1500Ms have made this lifestyle possible. I am close to being ‘paperless’ and with this synch program I am also truly mobile. Thanks again!

  27. […] the recent weeks we have released both DEVONthink’s new sync feature as well as a rewritten web interface for DEVONthink Pro Office as public betas via my blog. If you […]

  28. Wendell says:

    In your tutorial for syncing via dropbox you suggest that one excludes the dropbox “Apps” folder (to avoid data redundancy).

    However, have you considered how this affects other applications using the DropBox Apps folder? Will they lose their ability to sync? Do *all* apps that use the dropbox Apps folder directly push their data to dropbox server? For example, I am pretty certain the Day One journal app saves data to the Apps folder, which is then pushed to the dropbox server. Unselecting the Apps folder syncing locally would therefore break the journal app.

    I feel you haven’t considered any workflow scenarios beyond your own.

  29. Ihab Hosny says:

    If you uncheck the apps folder from sync, does that mean that other applications that sync using that apps folder would not be able to sync?

  30. Antonio says:

    Just some quick questions:

    1. Will this work with DevonThink Personal 2.4.3?
    2. And if so, will it work with Box?
    3. Why can’t I just move the database to a Box or Dropbox folder and let them do all the syncing? (as long as files are imported and not indexed)


  31. eboehnisch says:

    @Wendell: You can, of course, also simply exclude the actual sync stores and now the whole Apps folder.

  32. eboehnisch says:

    @Ihab: Correct. In this case simply exclude just the DEVONthink sync store.

  33. eboehnisch says:

    @Antonio: 1. Later yes, this beta not yet. 2. If Box supports WebDAV or can be mounted, yes. 3. Because that does not do per-record synchronization but copies the whole database back and forth. Change one record here and one there and you cannot merge the changes. Our sync covers this scenario.

  34. Tom L says:

    Would you please address David Schulman’s question from Dec 7: How does sync handle *indexed* content? In his case the indexed files live on Dropbox; in my case, the indexed files are in folders in a volume (separate from my home folder) not kept in Dropbox, but both computers have volumes with the same name and the same folder/file structure (they are synced via Syncovery and/or rsync).

    Also, the current tutorial screencasts describe the behavior of the 2.5 versions of the apps. I presume that indicates the 2.5 release is imminent so us DT Personal users will finally get to use sync soon. Is that the case?

  35. @Tom L: Indexed items are fully supported and sync to the same path on both sides. DEVONthink Personal will also get the sync feature.

  36. Felix says:

    Nice feature. Though it’s not working for me. Had my Devonthink database in dropbox for ages. Did now made a local copy and synced it with the Plugin via Dropbox. Importing is always failing on my second machine. Says “file not found”. Weired.

  37. Jerry says:

    I have been anxiously awaiting this kind of syncing technology. Yet to be able to use it to it’s full potential, my databases need to be encrypted fully, not just a simple password. Will versions 2.5 bring full database encryption?

  38. eboehnisch says:

    @Jerry: No, no database encryption yet, I am afraid.

  39. […] sei que o pessoal da Devon está testando uma tecnologia nova de sincronismo que eu ainda não testei. Mas até tudo funcionar integrado entre Os X e iOS, syncar […]

  40. LisaT says:

    I’m very confused. I thought that the Dropbox sync would work in the sense that I could create new notes, for example, on Notability on my ipad—which is linked to DB—and then sync it in DTP and find the new note. Admittedly, the database is indexed, but it only seems to sync the stuff that was there when the DB account was added? What am I missing? I created a DB named ‘dropbox’ and added the folders from my Dropbox folder that I wanted managed in DTP. Possibly this wasn’t the best way to go about it, but I have a lot of files in my DB account and I don’t want it ALL synced in DTP.

  41. eboehnisch says:

    @ Lisa T: Dropbox syncing does not mean that DEVONthink mirrors the contents of Dropbox. It means that you can sync your database between multiple Macs using Dropbox as storage. If you want to mirror your Dropbox contents in the database adding a reference (index instead of import) to your Dropbox folder to your database is the right way to go.