Devonthink vs Synology

Adjusting my workflow to try to be a bit more efficient, but would like some help, opinions, recommendations from the group.

Sold on apple reminders for tasks, does more than enough and with iOS 16 updates will be great (with occasional good task use for more advanced features). Using a lot of linking of notes to tasks, find this to be very useful. Note apps I have not been settled on one. My favorite has been onenote as work uses PC, I like its Apple Pencil integration and I really am more of a folders than tags guy. I am not a fan of the Mac onenote experience, and am more and more wanting to be able to get PDFs out of onenote which is hard. Also had some data loss previously and can’t keep local copies. Also with the onenote “copy link to page” going to apple notes it doesn’t recognize the onenote:// link just the weblink on mobile (I think because apple notes doesn’t access rtf links). As I spend a majority of time on iOS devices and I see the idea of having the note hub as the “sparkyos” and then linking out to the appropriate app this seems to be the nail in the coffin for onenote for me.

I go back and forth on obsidian, I like some features and hate others. I will likely end up using apple notes, obsidian, or a combo of the 2 for note taking.

What I am struggling with is document management, predominantly ocr’d pdf of documents, financial info, and emails that are converted to pdf. I am currently in my trial period of Devonthink. Its a super powerful app, but while DTTG is usable I’m already running into issues (inbox files don’t stay in sync, no integration with PDF Expert on iOS/iPadOS, weird apple pencil response, and known document editing issues on mobile). The part I love is the ability to link to any pdf easily and it works on iOS/iPados/macOS. This seems to be an ideal setup for linking to obsidian. The indexing of the obsidian vault then allows complete search of obsidian with documents together. Seems ideal, but the database element and current issues I’m having with DT scare me a bit. (fyi have tried a few days of CloudKit sync and wasn’t a fan and had issues, so actually setup webdav support on my Synology NAS which seems more secure and worked better, but still enough issues to make me not necessarily trust using DT for everything bucket for mobile first).

While going through this process realized that Synology Drive allows you to link to files similar to devonthink and works across iOS/macOS. It is a bit more manual to label links in obsidian etc, but allows notes to have links to files. Also, the Synology Drive app does a good job of search within pdf. I just wish it was a bit more “Devonthink like” in linking easily. Honestly hook that worked across iOS and iPados is probably the perfect solution, but that doesn’t currently exist.

Does anyone have any other repository vault options for data backup they might recommend?
I know this is a Devonthink homer forum, but I see multiple posts on the devonthink forums of data loss, corruption, and difficulty with iOS…is there anyone with a largely iOS focused workflow that is not having issues?
Should I just live with my pdf’s oct’ed on my Synology NAS and link back for now and wait for a hook type app for iOS?


Sounds like KeepIt might be a good option as you are more folder focused. Personally, I use Evernote but it has limited folder functionality.

I don’t particularly trust Evernote. And honestly I think my synology NAS can function effectively the same as Evernote and it’s on site.

I will have to check keep it. Does it have deep links and backlinks for mobile as well.

I wouldn’t worry about data loss on DT. I read about it extensively before committing and it seems like there was a bug possibly several years ago that went undiscovered until an update to the iOS last year brought the issue to light. The problem then was that as whatever error had occurred took place years earlier, back-ups weren’t enough to restore missing files for the minority affected (and of course no-one had even known there was an issue to look out for). Since then the developers implemented data checks so that if an error occurs you will know, ideally immediately. E.g, if you try to sync and a file is missing, it will tell you (it won’t be missing, it will be trapped in purgatory somewhere). And if a blank file is detected in the system (e.g. if it’s corrupted), it will tell you that too. Having said all of that, if you’re wanting to store locally you do need a back-up system… (I’m sure you know that, but it has to be said!)

I’ve never had an issue with CloudKit sync but I’m aware the vagaries of Apple have hit other users… I shallow sync and just download what I need when I’m on the go. (Files are still indexed so search still works.)

I prefer DevonThink just because it’s basically my “bucket” where things go, but at the same time it eliminates other apps I might need. I do most my pdf reading in there now as highlighting and commenting is good within the app, it’s easy to create markdown notes etc. I’m mostly a folders person, and I like seeing all my folders and knowing where things are.

I have indexed two of my Obsidian vaults to DT. I haven’t really used it much, but I’m new at doing that. Tbh, I know if something is in Obsidian or DT and tend to just go look in the relevant app. I’m not convinced Obsidian is adding much value to my own workflow except for the nicer markdown editor and the pretty maps (and I sort of feel like I’m saying a “Porsche” is nice when I already have a perfectly serviceable “BMW” in the garage :joy:). I wouldn’t use Obsidian as my “everything bucket” because of its inability to handle whatever files you throw at it.

One other thing to consider is good tech support. Having done something incredibly stupid to my own database (user error!!) the DT team were quick to get me sorted and working again.

Having said all of that, if you’re not mixing file types, or not doing much editing/note adding, or thinking in your files (I.e. you “just” need a filing system), I’d honestly probably just have set up a robust folder structure on iCloud. DT is an unnecessary layer if you just want to file 100s of documents and you know how to use folders.


Points well taken. As I said in my initial post I have a home server that I do file structure with already. I’m not sure what benefit putting personal data in iCloud gets me, and I generally find iCloud sync horrible and hate that there is no way to actually see what sync is doing.

The real benefit of the “everything bucket” is more ability to easily link. I like the idea of all my work notes being work notes, and when I reference email as pdf, work documents etc being a link that just works. The “robustness” of devonthink is probably overkill for me since I can do everything in synology and link to Apple notes or obsidian. If devonthink ran on my synology server I’d pay for that anytime. Having my always on box to the indexing for me would be great. Honestly I’m so iOS heavy and iPad heavy (due to pc at work like all medical fields) that it’s kind of a pain to turn the mac on to get all the DT features and automations to run.

I suppose asking a question with regards to a NAS may not be best in MPU, I’ve seen a lot of people who only use iCloud or external plug in drives which doesn’t seem optimal for many reasons. On the “NAS forums” no one uses DEVONthink or obsidian because they are using docker packages and self hosted solutions. While I can do this and prefer that security, it’s a give and take with convenience, security, and time spent working vs managing a network device.

No matter what I choose I am finding the deep linking of apps to be the #1 need as making a “sparkyos” is useful. Mixing and matching links to best app for the job is working out great so far.

Frankly, the only possible/practical roles that a NAS would have for if you are using DEVONthink would be:

  • On the NAS setup a WebDAV server and use that as sync location (if you need sync with DEVONthink) with other devices

  • On the NAS setup a folder to save DEVONthink backup archive files (zip) files

  • Use the NAS to work with TimeMachine to backup your Mac(s)

DEVONthink designed to work on the local Mac. The DEVONthink databases should not be stored and used from the NAS.

You could consider indexing files on the NAS into DEVONthink, but that a more advanced topic and before you do that be sure to read about DEVONthink indexing, starting page 52 of the "DEVONthink Manual).

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