Do I still need Obsidian sync if I can use iCloud?

Things I have tried

What I’m trying to do

I’ve been using the mobile app on iOS for a while, and it seems to sync just fine with iCloud. Is there any reason why I should not store my main vault on iCloud and use iCloud to keep in sync between mobile and desktop apps?

As it is, I am using the Obsidian sync service to save cloud-based backups of my main vault, but that seems unnecessary if I can use iCloud.

Also, ultimately, I want to be accessing the same vault from both desktop and mobile apps, and given that iCloud works fine for mobile, why not use it for desktop.

Bottom line: Is there any compelling reason to still be using Obsidian sync, or am I just as well of using iCloud?


You’re right - It’s not necessary, but it does have some nice features.

  1. It is fully encrypted in the cloud
  2. It provides version history reaching back one year
  3. It supports the developers

All good points, especially #3. But, if I want to be able to share between desktop and mobile, and I’m already using iCloud for mobile, seems like I should share a single vault and store it on iCloud. That make sense?

My own experience of iCloud is that its speed is patchy, especially with non-Apple system apps. I believe iCloud prioritises. It may work much better for you, in which case you won’t need Obsidian Sync.

The Discord has a number of users who seem fine with it and others who have given up on it.

I believe Obsidian Sync will always have faster specific support, and probably always work faster than more generic solutions.

I don’t use it myself at the moment because I don’t need that speed and I work with a wide range of apps and files that aren’t in the vault. Whatever you do, I’d advise making sure that you have an adequate backup solution - don’t rely on a sync solution as your backup (though it is likely to suffice much of the time).


What are the problems if you use both iCloud and Obsidian sync? I have heard that hthey will compete to access and change a file and whoever “wins” will get to update and this can create issues with duplication, conflicts, etc. I would like to hear an Obsidian developer weigh on this for a final answer. I like the “version restore” option offered by Obsidian Sync.

I’m not sure what you’re asking, @manuelalonso. You say you’ve heard that iCloud and Sync working together tend to cause conflicts, since both compete against each other. You’re asking for a developer to weigh in with a final answer. What is confusing me is that you’ve asked the same question before, were directed to the relevant help section, which was written by the developers, and then acknowledged the information.

Is this a different question than the other? If so, how so? It helps to be as specific as possible, otherwise your request may inadvertently go unanswered.

It is the same question with the added new element that this week I installed the Mobile beta. I did implement the solution provided back then in the user manual, sync section (have only the main Mac Os device with Sync enabled), but to access a remote vault I need to enable Sync in all devices. So I was wondering how that recommendation of “only one device” with Sync applies when adding Mobile to the mix. I just wanted to get some clear guidelines. I guess I can move all my vaults to non-iCloud synced folders (Desktop and Documents) and then work with Sync in all devices (iOS + MacOS) and get rid of any possible file conflicts that way. Sync seems to work well and fast, so I suppose that is right now the best practice?

Hello, @manuelalonso. I don’t use iOS, so I’m not sure. You may need to ask around some more. But I think what you’re looking for is here. I hope it helps:

Hey @Scribe thanks for that reference, which I just read. I find the whole thing still confusing. I need to make the right decisions on where the place the vaults. Do I want to follow that reference and after iOs creates a special Obsidian folder inside iCloud Drive, then drag my desktop vault into that folder? That is the first time I heard about that! And then if that is the proper iCloud setup, do I need to turn off Obsidian Sync (and loose version control) because if I do not there is going to be a competition between iCloud and Sync to see who gets first to the file?

I really wish we would get clarity here from the developers. @WhiteNoise noise said in one place that “they should coexist” and then also that only one device can have Sync otherwise there is a “file race” going on. And those comments were before Mobile.

I also use DevonThink 3, so I need to make the right and final decisions on how to structure the location of the vaults that I want also DT3 to index, and use the excellent cross-reference Devonthink Community Plugin.

I am hoping someone else using MacOs will weigh in here!



@Scribe And I wonder if this comment in Obsidian’s official reference manual applies to iCloud as well or not:

“If you use Obsidian Sync along with a third party sync service, please make sure to exclude .obsidian/sync.json in your third party sync to avoid breaking Obsidian Sync.”

It’s not stored in sync.json anymore but in indexeddb, so that other sync services don’t break obsidian sync anymore.

@koala Thanks. So I take it that I need not worry anymore about excluding that json file. Now that being said, and because is now stored in indexedDB, does that mean that now an iCloud located vault and Sync can coexist together without file read/write timing conflicts (aka who gets to the file first, iCloud or Sync?

The race conflicts will still happen, only icloud doesn’t mess with the state of sync (i.e. disabling it because sync.json was shared and now the ID is the same on both devices) anymore.

@koala That makes sense. I will experiment a bit with a small vault synced both ways (iCloud+Sync) and observe the race.

But as for my work vault, I will move it out of iCloud drive and use Sync only across all devices MacOS and iOs and see how that goes. I suppose in this case Obsidan Mobile will make a local physical copy of the entire vault in local iOS storage?

It will make a copy of all the folders you choose to sync in its local folder, yes.

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