Bento Tip: Syncing A Database Between Macs

Bento for Mac Tip tileI use Bento a bit and I’ve been using a symbolic link to point to the database in a Dropbox folder. This has worked pretty well, except occasionally the symbolic link would break. I recently eliminated the symbolic link and it seems to be working well.

To set this up you’ll still need Dropbox but then you can skip the symbolic link.

  1. Decide where you want the database in Dropbox. I want mine in /Dropbox/data.
  2. Move the existing Bento database(s) to the new location. By default the default database is created in [UserHome]/Library/Application Support/Bento and is called bento.bentodb.
  3. Start Bento while holding down the option key so that the following dialog appears:
  4. Click the choose button and browse to the database you just moved and select it. It should now be listed as the selected database as shown below:
    Note that in the above screenshots I checked the “Show This Dialog” option so this dialog always shows and I don’t have to hold the Option key down. This is useful if you have multiple Bento databases. I do but don’t want them all in Dropbox. Bento will continue to open the last database selected unless told to do otherwise.
  5. Click OK and the database will open.

Words of warning. Bento isn’t designed to be opened by multiple PCs at the same time so while the database will sync, be sure to only have it open on one computer at a time. Be sure to keep backups in case the syncing causes bad things to happen. I’ve been syncing this way with Bento 4, although Bento 3 does have the same database selection dialog.

4 thoughts on “Bento Tip: Syncing A Database Between Macs”

  1. I’ve been thinking of doing this since I started using Bento – seems like a solid solution (i.e. it doesn’t require any messing around in Terminal).

    I have an iMac (2010) and a MacBook (2007) that I work from (iMac is in my home, MacBook is used on the road/in office), and my coworkers and I use DropBox religiously.

    Have you had pretty good success with this?

    • @Andrew – I haven't had any problems and still do this. I use one database a couple days each week from a couple different Macs. I have read about people having problems. It is important to make sure the database is only open on one PC at a time. For me this isn't an issue as I regularly shut down the DB when I'm done. I also avoid opening Bento when the PC is offline and the local dropbox may not have the latest copy.

  2. Thank you for your article. Sounds like the database can become corrupt if opened by multiple PC’s at one time. Can it be assumed that since Bento allows multiple users that it doesn’t warn you when trying to access a non-default database such as one on Dropbox?

    • @Mark – my experience has been that Bento is a single user database and if the database is synced/shared and open on two PCs at the same time there will be problems and there will not be a warning. It’s been awhile, and a previous Bento version, but worse case for me was when I opened a database on a server share from two different computers at the same time (Simply forgot about the first one). I ended up having to restore because the data was messy. Not so much corrupt as in can’t open the file, but just weird data, incomplete or missing records.


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