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Thread: Background Data vs Auto-Sync - Whats the Difference?

  1. #1
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    Background Data vs Auto-Sync - Whats the Difference?

    Can someone explain what the difference is between these 2 settings is? Lets say I wanted to turn off all data. on Nokia it was possible to turn off all data system-wide. I can't seem to do this on the nexus one. even when I turn off background data it seems like an app will access data when I open that app, and even if I move away from that app to the background.

    that got me thinking as to how would one turn off data completely? how exactly does android handle the data connection?
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  2. #2
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    Background Data includes Autosync plus other functions that involved sucking data, notably background polling and notifications such as what Twitter apps do.

    To turn off Sync, you have to set up the Power Widget on your homescreen. You do this by pressing on the Homescreen long enough for a menu to appear, and this menu gives you options to Add to the Homescreen: Shortcuts, Widgets, Folders and Wallpapers. If you click on them, each will show you more options to install. The Power Widget is something I recommend installing because it is that useful.

    There is going to be five buttons on the widget - Wifi, Bluetooth, GPS, Sync and Brightness. Turn off Sync. The function for the other buttons are obvious.

    If you go to Settings there is also Accounts and Sync Settings. YOu can turn off both Background Data and Autosync. You can also turn off the Sync accounts.

    At this point, your data usage is completely on demand, but you don't get push email, automatic contacts reconciliation and stuff like that. Twitter and newsreaders don't poll and pull out data on the background at intervals. Neither will weather apps pull data from the web on the background. Your data use is completely on your will.

    Now if you want to turn off Data completely, from Settings, go to Wireless and Networks, go to Mobile Networks, go to Access Point Names. See the Access Point Name station? Every carrier has a unique name for this station. Click the green button off. There, no data on the phone but you can still call and text. You can still use wifi if you wish. Anytime you want your 3G data back, click on the APN station name again.

    APN settings are only applicable to all GSM phones, but not on CDMA.
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  3. #3
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    Thanks that helps me some. So that power widget has an on/off toggle for auto sync which controls the gmail, calendar, contacts and Facebook data connecting. So that leaves me wondering if I want to save battery, do I use this on/off toggle? Or do I go into settings and turn off background data?

    Today I experimented by tuning off background data and was very pleased how much my battery life improved. Now I am curious what results would I get using the other option instead (the auto sync toggle)?

    I guess I still don't quite understand what and how apps tie into this background data system. For example twidroid or Google listen, would they follow background data on/off? Does this control every and all apps data, or is it possible for an app to not follow the background setting and always connect regardless of whether I have background on or off?

    Thanks and sorry for the newb question.

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    If you want to save the power, turn off the sync. But with that you don't get push email.

    In my experience, its better to turn off autosync if you're in an area where the phone signal is weak. Otherwise, the phone would boost power to the radio to get a connection so make that sync. That eats and heats up the battery. At times when I still need my email in the house, but the phone signal is weak, I turn the wifi on instead. It actually saves on the power, since the phone isn't power boosting the RF.

    Background data includes news apps and Twitter apps. So Twidroid follows the Background Data off but not the Auto Sync. If you turn Background data off, Twidroid won't be pulling data on the background even if you turn on background data on the app itself. So the setting affects all the background data pullers globally.

    Autosync covers Gmail, Facebook, Calendar.

    Background data covers Autosync plus more apps including the Twitter apps and RSS newsreaders. One can say Background data is a superset that includes Autosync and background polling apps. Also weather apps. Apps that have polling interval are not covered by Autosync but are covered by Background Data. These apps do have background polling interval settings which you can set the time period of the polling or turn it off. I usually have just one Twitter program set to pull background mentions and direct mentions, although I have several Twitter programs installed for evaluation.

    If you're pulling weather data, you're also doing background data. Those weather apps that dynamically set on the GPS, geolocate your position, then give you weather data based on your GPS location, fair to say these apps eat your battery.

    Because I still like to have streaming Twitter, weather and news data, I have to be careful in setting the right balance of polling intervals for good battery life, not too frequent, and not too great a wait either.

  5. #5
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    ok thanks i think i got it. but here's my last and final question, how do we just completely turn off the cellular data connection? there seems to be no way to do it. let me explain.

    right now i am away from wifi, so my phone has a "3G symbol" next to the indicator, this sometimes switches to "E" when it goes to EDGE. now if i go home to my wifi connection, and i switch wifi ON, the phone transfers all data usage over to wifi, and the "E" or "3G" disappears, because the phone no longer has an active cellular data connection open.

    how can you make this happen WITHOUT switching over to wifi? let's say i'm out all day, and i dont want the phone to keep open an idle active data connection with the network, which is what seems to happen now. i'd like to turn off that data connection completely.

    its like on symbian phones, when you change the setting from "connect when available" vs "connect when needed". the nokia WILL do the same thing as this nexus one, it will always keep the data connection open if i set to "when available", but nobody uses that. instead everybody uses "when needed", so that the data connection only connects when you actively open an app that uses data.

    but android does not differentiate, the nexus seems to ALWAYS keep the active data connection open, even when i have "background data" and "auto sync" turned off. so back to my question is how do we turn off the data connection?

    EDIT: i guess my question is how would someone without a data plan ever use this phone?

    EDIT2: ok i am an idiot. i swear i clicked the wireless access point names option and nothing happened, i tried it a bunch of times, but NOW it finally opened up all the settings for port, proxy, username and password, etc. so i at least se now that i could spoof it with a fake address which would force it to fail to connect. but i dont see a simple on/off option.

  6. #6
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    you can download juicedefender, it provides a bunch of settings in which the apn is turn off

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    Strange enough. I know I could turn my APN settings off and on because that is what I do when I travel. When I click off the APN station, I lose the 3G symbol.

    The one things Symbian can do which I have not seen another OS does is have apps connect to different data sources simultaneously. I can have my Twitter app running into the Wifi while the browser will access the 3G.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RogerPodacter
    ok thanks i think i got it. but here's my last and final question, how do we just completely turn off the cellular data connection? there seems to be no way to do it. let me explain.

    right now i am away from wifi, so my phone has a "3G symbol" next to the indicator, this sometimes switches to "E" when it goes to EDGE. now if i go home to my wifi connection, and i switch wifi ON, the phone transfers all data usage over to wifi, and the "E" or "3G" disappears, because the phone no longer has an active cellular data connection open.

    how can you make this happen WITHOUT switching over to wifi? let's say i'm out all day, and i dont want the phone to keep open an idle active data connection with the network, which is what seems to happen now. i'd like to turn off that data connection completely.

    its like on symbian phones, when you change the setting from "connect when available" vs "connect when needed". the nokia WILL do the same thing as this nexus one, it will always keep the data connection open if i set to "when available", but nobody uses that. instead everybody uses "when needed", so that the data connection only connects when you actively open an app that uses data.

    but android does not differentiate, the nexus seems to ALWAYS keep the active data connection open, even when i have "background data" and "auto sync" turned off. so back to my question is how do we turn off the data connection?

    EDIT: i guess my question is how would someone without a data plan ever use this phone?

    EDIT2: ok i am an idiot. i swear i clicked the wireless access point names option and nothing happened, i tried it a bunch of times, but NOW it finally opened up all the settings for port, proxy, username and password, etc. so i at least se now that i could spoof it with a fake address which would force it to fail to connect. but i dont see a simple on/off option.
    This may interest you:
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    http://gigaom.com/2010/04/04/google-...mMalik+(GigaOM)

  9. #9
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    very interesting, it seems Google's philosophy is constant data connectivity.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by RogerPodacter
    very interesting, it seems Google's philosophy is constant data connectivity.
    Yea, that is how they make money, you can't do advertising without data! It also puts the kibosh on my big ideas. I want an Android pad, but those wouldn't have phones, unlike the Dell!


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