DEVONThink Multi-User

I want to share my DEVONthink database with a colleague. She has DEVONThink installed on her Mac and her iPad. Can I just use the same Dropbox sync method that I’m using for my Mac/iPad/iPhone? What I’m concerned about is if we’re both accessing the database at the same time. Has anyone tried this?

This scenario is discussed very frequently at the the DEVONthink forum, and I suggest you’ll get better answers there from staff.

Generally, the answer is yes, you can use DEVONthink sync to access the same database on your and your colleague’s computer. But be aware that the DEVONthink software is not designed and does not support simultaneous access to a database. You risk corruption, even in a sync scenario. Even you if configure sync for manual sync only, inevitably one user will forget to check with the other and two or more devices will attempt to sync simultaneously. This might or might not result in damage, depending on timing, but why take the risk with your precious data?

If you need a collaborative data store, then consider one of the numerous web-based solutions for this – or even something like the share features of O365, etc.

Actualy, a sync should work:
It should be not different from using in on multiple devices. I can add some content on iPad, add different content on iPhone and delete some stuff on my mac - it is somehow synced together.

I am aware of what the blog says, yes. Nevertheless, I don’t recommend it. The conflict resolution in the sync process is not robust enough, in my experience.

Thanks @anon41602260 and @ptarh. Here is my problem with both the DEVONThink forum and your link… (I looked there before posting here on MPU). Everything I find is over 5 years old — Before DEVONThink to go was redone. Every time I search the DEVONThink forum I have the same experience. Maybe it’s my bad luck, but I’d like someone’s recent experience with devon’s current syncing framework.

PS. If my colleague could add things to the database and search it, that would be good enough. I am going to manage the database and move the files around. I’m not sure if that’s an option that would reduce risk of corruption.

Honestly, I can’t see a bigger risk of corruption than syncing it to 3 devices - that is what I do on a regular basis. However, I would recommend a backup on a daily basis. I have a script I took from somewhere in KM, which will make a daily backup from my databases every time I plug in my external HDD at work. Doing so or something similar you should be fine IMO.

I have tried this as recently as a month ago. I would not suggest it at all. Love the product but it is not built for collaboration. If it was…

Can you tell me more about what happened? Is there any way to give read only access?

It’s not a question of how many devices are syncing - personally, I sync to four devices – as I said, it is a question of simultaneous syncing among two or more users. That’s a different scenario.

I find sync reliable. But it is only me syncing on one of four devices at a time. I am not changing a database on two machines simultaneously while I’m syncing. I would never trust sync if two or more people were syncing to my databases at the same time. That’s the scenario I do not trust and see no reason to trust.

Put it this way – I have databases in DEVONthink containing 15+ years of documents I created. I love my data :laughing: So, I compulsively backup to multiple locations. But even with that, I would not trust DEVONthink to share that data with someone else at the same time I was using it. YMMV, but why take the chance?

Yes. Agreed. I want the data to be safe, but I also am not sure what alternative there is. Web syncing looks cool, but I think I’d have to have my computer on all the time for that to work. I’ve considered moving my database to my NAS that is on all the time, but I think I read that’s not wise either.

No, sorry, it isn’t a good idea at all.

Not sure if you are familiar with Gabe Weatherhead of MacDrifter and Jeff Mueller’s podcast Nerds on Draft but on multiple episodes, they have mentioned how they use DEVONthink to share databases related to the show and beer. They use DEVONthink to access show notes at the same time, but make sure not to make edits to the same document.

Not sure if you are on, but you might be able to reach out to Jeff on to ask his experience with any sync issues.


Thanks everyone for your replies on this. I set up the sync and it’s working beautifully. As a safety measure, my colleague has agreed to email me anything she wants added to the database and she will not do any editing or moving of the files. Essentially, she is using it in “read only” status. She is very contentious and I trust this will work in our situation. At least it’s working so far!