Feature Request: Background Sync

I’m very happy with DTTG 2’s sync system, except I noticed that it doesn’t sync in the background. My workflow often involves desk work followed by some fieldwork and I need to remember to open DTTG 2 and let it sync before I switch between desktop and mobile if I want my recent changes to appear.

What I’d like to see is an additional feature to run the sync process in background on a schedule and only when on WiFi is desired. An RSS reader I use does this very nicely with a setting for background sync frequency (e.g. never, 8 hours, 4 hours, 1 hours) and a WiFi only toggle to prevent background sync on cellular networks if desired.

Thanks again for the terrific update!

As explained in detail already: iOS itself kills any app active in the background longer than three minutes. For the amounts of data we’re dealing with here (it’s not a to-do list, it’s gigabytes of data) this is not enough.

Remember: iOS devices are NOT Macs. Not even the iPad Pro. It’s still a very big iPhone, technically.

And so heavy when I hold my IPad Pro up to my ear to make a call. :laughing:


Then why are you not supporting iCloud for data sync as it does do background sync?

For example, apps like Notability, which have both macOS and iOS versions which sync data between them using iCloud. I use this regularly and find it very helpful.

If syncing big data is next to impossible I wonder how Evernote deals with this.


Creates a problem if you forget to sync before leaving the house if using a local WebDav sync store.

Apps like Notability are not doing the same thing as DTTG2. iCloud is technically infeasible at the moment. The moment things change or we can overcome these obstacles, we will offer it as an option.

Evernote does not sync everything in the background but downloads data on demand. iCloud works for single documents but is very hard to use when you don’t rely on Core Data also on the Mac. With our AI-based database we’re out of luck, sorry.

First of all let me say that I love devonthink and until now had only very pleasant contacts with the support staff.
Even more I’m a bit surprised by the sharpness of the reply. Especially as there seems to be a grey area in between and devonthink does have a history of making impossible things possible.

I would like to second the request as it is my number one problem at the time.
Please let me specify in order for you to evaluate whether there can be something done.
I do have two 8gb databases, - one is totally synced, on contains documents downloaded on demand. Once the first was synced changes are only a few megabytes each time. So basically the point that data is to big to be moved in the background does not really work however there are simply way you could make my life easier:

  1. Provide a button to disable auto lock during the initial sync. Or any larger syncs… until finished. It is tedious to visit device settings in order to do that before and after and additionally keep an eye on the status all the time.

  2. Provide an option to download databases content only when connected to wifi (maybe while syncing Metadata always). Right now it syncs the moment I start devonthink. At times killing my cellular contract data limit. However I could turn mobile data off while on the road, but then wouldn’t be able to download the file I needed. Once I turn mobile data on (in device settings) I would have to wait for the full sync to complete (or kill my data plan) before I could download the file I needed from my unsynced database.

That would already go a long way for me. Thanks.

The main problem is that when you do something in the background and you’re not done in a few seconds iOS terminates the app and gives you a “negative score”. So it will not wake you up for the next background sync so early next time. Even OmniFocus, which syncs just small chunks of data, shows up in the logs with terminations due to background use every day.

We already do this. DEVONthink To Go requests that the device does not go to sleep during a sync. For some users this effectively keeps the device awake all the time, for others iOS seems to ignore the request, presumably due to outside factors. In the end it’s the operation system that handles this on its own; we can just put in wishes.

We opted against this for now as we didn’t want to, again, duplicate OS functionality.

I am also quite frustrated about not being able to have all my info synced in background and having to wait when I open the app for it to sync.

For the initial sync, which in my case is big, I have fully disabled iPhone locking, plugged to the wall and forget it for several hours. No problem.

For the regular sync, I know Apple imposes this limits to developers; only a few minutes after leaving the app, it is fully closed, but as I see it know, DTTG is not asking permission for background task, so effectively as soon as you leave the app or the iPhone is locked, the sync stops, instead of having several minutes more. With Bonjour sync you can see it immediately as son as the phone is locked.

Simply put; the connection to the SyncStore or the Bonjour server is going to timeout in my case, either because the iPhone gets locket or I switch apps. Using Background sync it is going to timeout anyway, but having 3 extra minutes to sync, which can make a difference.

Dropbox also uses an extra technique related to location services, but I do not know if can only be used when dealing with photos.

I know you have decided not to move ahead on this matter, as 3 minutes more probably will not address the issue, but if at anytime you are reconsidering this, it will be a +1 from me.

Actually, DEVONthink is asking for background time and uses the remaining three minutes until termination. You can see this when you start a sync and immediately switch away to another app. You’ll get a notification telling you when the sync was finished.

However, when you lock your device the data protection kicks in and withdraws permission to read and write files immediately. For all apps that use the on-board security this will be the case. We’re doing this to protect your data.

hmmm…then why do so many other apps (endnote, dropbox, etc etc) have zero issues? my endnote sync took 45 minutes the other day, the iPad didn’t kill it once.

I did not read all postings.

But i think, that there may be a solution!

For any Apps that either produces or records Audio or MIDI, there is a setting call “Background Audio”.
Enabling this allows the App to happily run in the background!

I am not sure that Apple realy checks, if you do one of those 4 things, but adding a MIDI record could even be realy used, recording MIDI from sequencers and adding those a items with the MIDI tag.
This could then be used for many things …

Just an idea :wink:

Otherwise, a way to disabled syncs over mobile connections is of course crucial. I never did run into this, so far.

And a way to disable autosleep for long actions is also important.

Oh yes please. Can we please now move this topic onto one where we agree on the appropriate background music? We could also use ambient light sensor to find out whether we want to have a lullaby at night, or a wakeup call in the morning.

I come from Evernote, and put the full import in a 20 GB database, which is synced through iCloud. This database is synced on demand on iPhone and iPad. For new stuff I created a new database which I intend to keep fairly small. This one is synced to WebDAV, and fully synced on iPhone and iPad. This way the sync it fast, even though I have an enormous amount of content.

The initial sync and indexing took a while, but that was with screen on (and charging)

Welcome @robvliet
Thanks for sharing your experience. :slight_smile: