Does Anyone Sync with iCloud Alternatives?

Things I have tried

I use my personal Mac for a lot of company video preparations. To get the integration I need with corporate resources, I had to let them impose their security profiles (Intune Company Portal). That shuts down iCloud Drive access. So, I can no longer sync Obsidian between my iOS devices and my Mac.

I can use the Corporate Microsoft One Drive across all devices, of course.

I know this is not a trivial request, but I wish Obsidian would let us select which backing store to use.

For whatever reason, I can still use Google Drive, Synology Drive, and I suspect DropBox would still work. Go figure. Sigh.

Has anyone managed to get Obsidian to use other backing storage alternatives for their repositories?

I searched the forums, and I see that initially Obsidian only supports iCloud storage, but before making a formal feature request, I wanted to ask the community if anyone has a resourceful workaround, or if a diverse backing store enhancement is already in the works.

What I’m trying to do

I need to sync Obsidian between iPad, iPhone, and a MacBook Pro using almost any other cloud storage solution other than iCloud. Sigh.

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Hi @mikestrong, fellow Obsidian user here.

I’ve used four different syncing services with Obsidian (not all at once), so I can safely say that you have some options besides iCloud. Here are my brief experiences with each:

Dropbox

Overall Dropbox has worked pretty well as a syncing service for me. I simply placed my vault within a subfolder of my Dropbox folder. It synced very quickly and did a fairly good job managing simultaneous changes. However, it often created conflicted copies of files that I had to manually merge or delete, and it often messed things up in the private .obsidian folder, which caused a lot of headaches.

I recommend either not syncing the .obsidian folder with Dropbox, or else using custom separate .obsidian folders for each client.

OneDrive for Business

I briefly tried keeping one of my vaults in a OneDrive for Business folder, but quickly gave up on that. OneDrive worked similarly to Dropbox but did a worse job of managing conflicts and flat-out mangled the .obsidian folder (I think because of how frequently Obsidian updates files in that folder).

I don’t recommend using OneDrive for Business with Obsidian. What I’m doing instead is keeping that vault local to my laptop but running a daily backup to my OneDrive folder. That works very well and has presented no problems.

GitHub

For a while I kept one of my vaults synced via a private repo on GitHub using the Obsidian Git plugin. That worked very well, and changes synced between machines every few minutes, which is usually fast enough. Occasionally I ran into merge conflicts that had to be manually fixed, but it wasn’t bad. I didn’t try syncing the .obsidian folder because of my experiences with Dropbox and Onedrive.

Obsidian Sync

I recently decided to try out Obsidian Sync for all of my personal vaults. It’s the only non-free solution in this list at approximately $10 per month, but so far it’s been by far the best experience of all these solutions. Syncing is almost instantaneous on clients connected to the internet, and I’ve had no file conflict problems at all, even with three(!) simultaneous clients making changes. Again, I don’t sync the .obsidian folder except for my folder settings and hotkeys, so each client manages its own settings and plugins.

Closing Thoughts

I think you have a lot of good options for syncing your data, most of them free. Each comes with tradeoffs, so you might want to try some different options and see what works for you. A few rules of thumb I’d offer:

  1. Don’t mix multiple sync solutions. They can create conflicting file updates and result in loss of data.
  2. In general, exclude your .obsidian folder from your sync solution. This prevents a whole category of sync issues that can be confusing and painful. The downside is that you have to configure each client’s settings and plugins separately, but I see that as a small one-time price to pay.
  3. Sync is not backup. In addition to your sync solution, also set up a solution for regularly backing up your vault, preferably automatically, to a separate location.

I hope this helps! Thanks for reaching out to the community.

Craig

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