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Need an explanation of the difference between Background Data & Auto-Sync

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by jeji, Feb 9, 2011.

  1. jeji

    jeji Lurker
    Thread Starter

    Can someone here please describe in sufficient detail the differences between Background Data & Auto-Sync. I've read several responses to this question both on this site and on other forums but I have never come across an actual answer.

    I "get" that push Gmail requires Auto-Sync. I got it! Is Auto-Sync used for accounts (Gmail, Facebook, etc.) while BD is used strictly for apps?

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  2. rowuncw

    rowuncw Newbie

    I too have had quite a bit of an adventure find an answer to this. Per the Android 2.2 user manual:

  3. jeji

    jeji Lurker
    Thread Starter

    So is it a scheduling difference? Will Gmail, for instance, eventually fetch mail, contacts, etc. at a predefined interval if Auto-sync is disabled but Background data is not?

    Or are applications classified as Background data OR Auto-sync?
  4. dan330

    dan330 Extreme Android User

    form what I know... it seams to be very simple.

    background data.. for apps that need to get data from internet site. ex: weather, news...

    Auto-sync .. for apps that have to check online data with data on phone.. and make updates for one or the other.. so they both match. ex: contacts, calendar.

    weather and news dont care what data is on the phone... it just updates the data.

    Contacts and calendars.. wants to keep the news info .. the same.. so it synchronizes the info.
  5. rowuncw

    rowuncw Newbie

    I'm not sure of the answer to any of those questions...which is why it's so confusing I suppose. I've found through experience that auto-sync applies to the integrated apps like Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, and the native email app if you have that set up. I say this because my Tweetdeck app, which is set up update every 15-minutes, is unaffected when I turn of auto-sync (which seems to contradict the description). Background data supersedes auto-sync to include things like weather and news widgets.

    So, I'm still not 100% sure what the difference is between the two and what each controls. It would be nice if a future version of Android would have a "data lock down" mode where it prevents any data from being transferred (other than calls and texts, of course), but my guess is that app developers have more control over data flow than Android would.
  6. dan330

    dan330 Extreme Android User

    ^^^ there is...

    homescreen > menu > settings > accounts & Sync > uncheck the 2 ..
  7. rowuncw

    rowuncw Newbie

    Actually there's not, because even though the two are unchecked, I still have apps on my phone that like to update (Tweetdeck being one of them). Not sure if this a bug with the app or what. Plus I can sit and watch my phone continue to move data over 3g even with the two are unchecked.
  8. dan330

    dan330 Extreme Android User

    then there are issues... with your phone.

    that would be against some rules.. if you did not a data plan.. that would be illegal to rack up charges.. especially when you turned it off!

    take it in to get it fixed.
  9. rowuncw

    rowuncw Newbie

    Thanks, I might do that. I was wondering about it the whole time why it was updating on its own even though I had both sync settings turned off. My other thought was that it just updates so fast when I open it, especially over wifi, that it just looks like the it's been updated in the background but instead it just updates very quickly when I open the app. I guess I'm used to slower networks or phones that take a few seconds to update.
  10. Guamguy

    Guamguy Android Expert

    Background Data is a much larger category that includes background polling of data without syncing.

    Autosync falls with Background Data, but it is only one of the forms of background data. Tweetdeck for Android, or generally third party Twitter apps don't really sync. They just poll data. News apps also poll. Some weather apps sync, some poll.

    Among Twitter apps, only Twitter for Android or specific UI later stuff like Twitter for HTC Sense would sync. Ditto with the Samsung or Motoblur equivalents.

    Yahoo Messenger, GTalk would sync, but other chat apps would poll.

    You can tell who polls and who syncs by looking at your Accounts and Sync settings on the phone. Basically who is not there, polls.
  11. rowuncw

    rowuncw Newbie

    Thanks Guam, best explanation yet!

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