Sync often takes minutes, is it my internet connection?!

Hi guys,

I’ve got OmniFocus 2 installed on my Mac and also got the app for the iPhone.

For some reason, even though I only have about 200 items in OmniFocus (no attachments, just some text notes) quite often it takes longer than a minute until the sync is done. To me this seems strange.

Every other app/sync that I use is super-fast and usually I don’t even notice it’s syncing. I have fast internet (50mbit down, 10mbit up) and my devices are also up-to-date. Also other apps just sync right away once I change something, no need to hit the sync-button or wait for the next sync. And it doesn’t take a second. Well it’s 2014 right?

Now I wonder if this is considered normal? I mean it’s just some text it has to sync, it’s not a 1gb database or whatever…why would it take 2 minutes to do that? Being a programmer myself I just wonder what the heck it is doing?!

Enough rant, my question to you guys is: am I the only one with that issue right now? And does anyone have experience if speed improves using a fast webdav-service?


Hey Marco, my db with 200+ items syncs in next to nothing- seems to be local…

hi Mat,

you using it on a mac and iOS devices?


Both, actually… I am also using a webDAV… You could try changing to Omnisync, depending on where You currently live this might improve matters. For me that’s the sync taking too long, living in germany. Do You know where Your WebDAV providers servers are located (is it Your own, best of all)? If You live in Germany (or close), I have good experience with GMX servers- they provide DAV access and are really fast… Maybe that even helps abroad, I heard they also operate in the US?

Hope that helps,


Jup, thanks! Will try to setup WebDAV :)

Yeah, You should, it’s really really easy and improves matters BIG TIME…

All the best, mat

I’m not really a fan of OmniFocus’s sync infrastructure. Performance, while continually under improvement, stinks. And it’s largely by design.

What happens is that every sync peer maintains a list of transactions that are atomic changes. These can be VERY SMALL changes. As each peer syncs, it appears that it is “baselined” each time that every client gets to a certain level of transactions. The problem is, if you have a registered peer that doesn’t sync for a while, the change list can get VERY VERY long, and particularly with iOS clients you can have sync times that take a minute or more. OmniFocus will often punt out clients that don’t sync in a long time, but this doesn’t happen for a week, at least.

What you can do: In OF for Mac, go to the sync pane, and there is a little button you can click to show all the sync clients. If there’s one that hasn’t synced in over a week, remove it. Then go and sync every one of your clients, wait an hour, and sync them again. Check one of your iOS clients (in preferences, near the bottom) to see that the number of zip files is small (say, < 10). It should be faster then.

So OF’s sync (which uses WebDAV, whether it’s Omni’s server or one you host) is reliable, but it’s slow. And more recently (with OF 2 in particular) I’ve found some “orphaned” clients that don’t sync for a while and make sync times get longer. Managing this is way more finicky than I’d like: Other solutions I’ve tried (including The Hit List and Things) have sync solutions that are MUCH faster and don’t increase in time linearly with time like OF’s solution does. I’d love it if the Omni Folks would consider rearchitecting their sync solution with something better down the road, though this would require a break with all older clients, I figure.


Thanks for your tip CatOne, but this doesn’t seem to be the issue. I have 3 zip-files (no idea what that’s for…I’ve never seen a database of that size doing anything with compression?!) and everything has been synced lately.

But just today I had again a case where I added stuff on my iPhone, went to the Mac and they haven’t been there. Then I clicked sync on Mac. Again no success. Then I had to open the iPhone app again, click on sync, go back to the mac-app click sync again and then…I’ve seen my new tasks! It took me 2 minutes and…such things just annoy me.

I’m in the process of setting up a WebDAV service now to see if that helps. If it doesn’t I guess I’ll ask for a refund and switch to 2DO. I paid over $100 for a task-management/GTD-Tool that doesn’t sync as it’s supposed to - no sorry.

Hey Marco,

feel free to go down the 2do road- it is always a different impression for every individual… just a word of caution: the most stable and complete way to sync 2Do is via dropbox, which IMHO regularly took 10-15 seconds… So please report back as to what Your impressions are, after really putting some load onto 2do, say, 200 tasks or so?

One of the reasons for me returning was syncing speed and reliability…

2Do scares me a bit just because it seems to have a bit too much possibilities for me…I might get lost there after a while. Everything else looks perfect!

I tried the Sync via Dropbox and yes it takes about 5-15 seconds. But it’s reliable and it DOES SYNC and it never needs 2 minutes like Omnifocus sometimes does. And I never had to check if it did so far…it just synced.

One thing I don’t like is that I didn’t find a way to sync via Dropbox and still be able to use Siri to set reminders that go into 2Do. And I use Siri a lot for that…

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I sync to my own NAS via WebDav. This is always fast, never have to wait longer than 5 seconds or so. As I have just started with OF a few months ago, my database isn’t big however (I think 300-400 tasks). I use OF on my iMac, iPad and iPhone.

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Yeah, well said- and welcome to the oh-so familiar nagging feeling that the perfect solution is not found yet. For me these wandering always end up with me humbly returning into the haven of Omni… it simply is the best middle ground for ambitious project planning that is several sizes smaller than “I run a business where I am doing nothing but planning”. But go playing! It is so vitally important to make these experiences by yourself ;-)…

That fear of Yours is well justified- 2Do a one-stop do-all (except review, which I sorely missed)… But I ended up planning and prioritizing myself into unproductivity… but especially the iPhone and iPad app designs are works of functional art, something to see aat least…

All the best for Your journey!

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My 2p (British) is that I’d rather a guaranteed atomic sync than a quick one, if I had to pick one thing. OF contains everything and I don’t want to lose any of it!

That said, I also think that having a personal WebDAV server is a bit of a non-starter feature - since OG offer their own service now I’d be surprised if a significant percentage of users used anything else (local sync maybe). I’d much rather have, and would pay for, a lightning quick bespoke service that they hosted themselves. Then we’d also get push etc updates. I admire their commitment to open standards and portability but convenience might be more important in this case.

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I finally have a webdav-server up and running now and it makes a huge difference. Sync now usually takes 1-2 seconds…which is how it’s supposed to be! :)

Thanks Mat for the tip!

I also found which shows a hidden setting to change sync-times. I now sync 15 seconds after any change and every 5 minutes. Because…why shouldn’t I? What I don’t get is that these settings aren’t in the sync-options, simply put an “advanced” dialog there and let people set this.

Still I wonder why Omnifocus wouldn’t set up better servers with more bandwidth to make sure this is not necessary or allow other sync-options like Dropbox/iCloud. It looks like it’s just a very simple file-sync so dropbox, google-drive, iCloud would work perfectly.

This way customers wouldn’t need to setup their own webDAV-servers which is not that easy and common compared to Dropbox etc.

There may be other customers like me who try out Omnifocus and if they also notice the terrible sync times, they might be very tempted as I was to not buy after the trial. Put differently: to work on the sync might be well worth the investment for Omnifocus…

Not quite - those are all asynchronous so OmniFocus wouldn’t necessarily know when it had the full list of operations to begin applying them. Knowing you have everything available is really important, and Dropbox can’t offer that (not sure about iCloud).

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Hi Brad,

I’m not an expert when it comes to these services but from what I can see it looks like WebDAV doesn’t offer more here than Dropbox or Google-Drive or iCloud. Looking at the file structure on my webDAV it seems like Omnisync does make sure it’s in sync etc. within the files…but I might be wrong ;)


WebDAV does allow us certain guarantees about locking and consistency that we cannot get with Dropbox or other filesystem-based sync solutions.

Dropbox in particular is also bad about ensuring the consistency of document packages (folders which present themselves as single files in the Finder). It does not guarantee those packages are updated atomically, which can lead to corruption and dats loss if the document is open in an app that is racing against the sync engine.

I’ve also found OmniFocus’s sync o be slow compared to apps like Things and Todoist.
CatOne’s suggestion did help though.

Hi Jono,

I followed the suggestions here and setup a WebDAV server. This solved all sync issues and the speed is very good now. So I can really recommend this until OmniGroup solves their OmniSync-issues…it’s well worth the effort.


@Marco, @Jono, @CatOne and others, may I ask what countries you are connecting from?