Meta Post - Syncing between Devices

The official documentation for Obisidian Mobile is a great place to start. If you have ideas to improve the Obsidian documentation, pull requests are welcome. You can contribute to the process of documenting Obsidian on GitHub.

First things first: Obsidian Sync vs. Third Party Sync. The advantages of Obsidian Sync is that it’s officially supported, “just works,” has nice versioning that is built into Obsidian, and is blazing fast and optimized for your vault. The main tradeoff is that Obsidian has to be running for Obsidian Sync to work, since Obsidian Sync is an Obsidian plugin, and that it can be unintuitive for people sometimes to create an empty vault and then sync their main vault “into” that empty vault – but you have to have a vault to enable the plugin on.

General tips:

  • Make sure your sync service/app also syncs hidden folders (you may need to toggle it on) or .obsidian won’t sync, which means your plugins and themes won’t sync either. If you don’t want your plugins and themes to sync, don’t sync your .obsidian. folder.
  • If you want a custom font on mobile, you can Base64 encode the font into your theme. You can’t refer to other files from css snippets directly - relative links won’t work there because the files are loaded as a blob instead. Use https://transfonter.org/ to convert your font into base64, copy it in the theme file and change fonts wherever you want either in the theme file itself or through one of the plugins.
  • Bi-directional syncing of a vault with two different services (i.e. Obsidian Sync & iCloud, or iCloud & Dropbox, or git + obsidian sync) is a recipe for race conditions and disaster. You’re probably fine to go from mobile to desktop with Obsidian Sync and then push and pull between desktop and laptop but you want to be really sure you aren’t creating a system where you’ve got two services fighting over which version of your file is most recent and getting itself into an infinite loop.
  • Similarly, you often need a go-between if you’re trying to use third party sync between, say, an iPad and Android and a Windows or Mac computer using the desktop computer as a bridge. Most people doing that kind of cross-platform sync just use Obsidian Sync, but one user was able to share a method.

Desktop

  • Users report that using iCloud to sync from iOS to Windows will cause the folders, home screens etc. on your Windows PC to not update correctly. It’s also apparently very costly on CPU capacity. A different user reports that iCloud isn’t great on Windows but the only problems they had were with large files.

Syncing via Android

Syncing on iOS


If you know of any resources or guides that aren’t included here, please let me know.

14 Likes

Eleanor, I sync Windows 10 to Android phone, both ways, using FolderSync app on phone syncing to OneDrive. Only minor conflicts, mainly related to .obsidian. stuff. No document/notes issues. This works syncing both ways phone to pc, phone to laptop, phone to tablet.

3 Likes

Hey, there is a Synology server in my family. I use it to synchronize between win devices perfectly. The problem now is that there is no good solution for the mobile terminal. The problem is that my Synology opens the WebDAV port, but the Obsidian on my phone does not support linking WebDAV. I don’t know if there are plans to open WebDAV links in the future.

Eleanor,

Regarding Syncthing, it can sync both locally (i.e. over WiFi or other networks) and through the Internet. The way you wrote it in your OP is as if it only supports local synchronisation. It might bring some confusion.

2 Likes

Syncthing works like a charm. No conflicts for me. Lots of options, easy to set ignore lists (for .obsidian, etc). Very transparent about what it’s doing as it syncs, if you watch the web GUI.

You can opt for Syncthing to handle your file versioning, but I haven’t tried it.

It works best if you have at least one always-on device. Using it only on mobile devices or laptops which sleep is a recipe for having unsynced local changes. Like you say, you need a desktop machine or a home server as your “cloud.”

I’m tempting to get the early bird pricing on the native sync and have in-app versioning.

For those who do not want use to any cloud service and want to do everything offline, I have used FolderSync in my android phone and FTP server FileZilla in my Windows PC to sync my vaults between PC and mobile. It works well.