Difference between download, set as available offline, and synchronize

Hi everybody!

Can anybody explain me the difference between download, set as available offline, and synchronize in the Android client?

When I mark a folder, I have the option to synchronize. When I mark one or several files, I have the options to download or set as available offline. I do not understand the difference between these options. The result seems to be the same. The only difference I see is, that the files which were selected to be available offline have an additional little yellow down facing arrow in the icon. But all of them are available in a file browser on the Android device.

Thank you very much for your help!


Hi @Hell-G

  • Synchronize: simply synchronizes the meta data (modification date, size etc.) for folders and it’s files
  • Download: Download the file(s)
  • Avail. Offline: Downloads the file and keeps it up-to-date with changes made by clients/server to the file, updates the file on the server if it has been changed locally.

You are welcome! :slight_smile:


Hi Andy,

Thank you very much for explaining! Some further questions.

  • Synchronize: But in my case, when I used “synchronize” on a folder that was not present on the Android device, it downloaded it first. I understand your explanation, that it only updates the information you see in the client, without the actual file content.
  • Download: This is clear.
  • Avail. Offline: So this is the full two way synchronization for files you want to keep on the device for longer, like in the desktop client.

Thanks again!

Hi @Hell-G,

for all the question: exactly! :slight_smile:

  • Synchronize: Only meta-data, no “content”
  • Download: yes
  • Avail. Offline: yes

You are very welcome!

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Sorry for bothering you again, but why does my app download the actual folder with content, if I hit “synchronize” on a folder that has not been downloaded to the device before, if this synchronize only works on the meta data?

Argh… My mistake @Hell-G

I mixed up “synchronize” with “refresh account” :frowning: Sorry… You are right.

  • Synchronize is basically download, delete or refresh the files
  • Refresh account does the meta data

Sorry for the confusion :confused:

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Great, now I think I understood all of it.

Thanks a lot for your explanations! Great app, use it daily!

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Glad I could help and that you are enjoying the app :slight_smile:

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Not so fast. This terminology “Set as available offline” in the mobile app is confusing. It does not really mean “the full two-way synchronization”, as alleged above. If it did then presumably if would be named that. As per another discussion it really means:

a so called 1-way sync as in you can only push changes one way not both ways (at the same time) which would be a 2-way sync. That is something we probably never implement

But then, it does seem to behave as two-way sync in practice, as stated above.

Would it be correct to say that “available offline” means “two-way sync without conflict resolution”? In other words, it will sync both ways but if you update both copies simultaneously, then you are out of luck and one of the changes will get overwritten?

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Afaik yes, may @tobiasKaminsky can shed some light on this topic? :slight_smile:

I believe the android client has no two-way sync. Quoting from the post How to edit Nextcloud files on Android, we have:

I also tried to edit a plaintext that is “available offline”, but it cannot be saved. Adding a file to a local nextcloud folder that is “available offline” also does not upload it to the server.

For the developers, please consider implementing two-way synchronization! Cheers.

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