A cartoon of an oversized phone encased in ice while a frustrated man chips away at it

The Beginning

When I started using Obsidian in December of 2023, I had an iPhone 11 Pro and I was using iCloud to sync. Whenever I launched the app, it would take thirty seconds to a minute to load, making it really impractical to use for quick capture. Looking for a better experience, I opted to switch to the paid Obsidian sync ($4 month). Unfortunately as I imported more notes into my vault from my previous app of choice, Evernote, it got to the point where Obsidian would not even load. It just looped into a never-ending series of crashes. The only solution I could find was to delete my files from local storage and re-download them from the cloud.


I turned to ChatGPT for help and got this:

  1. Limit your file sizes: While Obsidian is capable of handling large text files, having too many or very large files can slow down the app. Try to limit your notes to a reasonable size, and split up longer notes into smaller ones if possible.
  2. Reduce the number of plugins: While plugins can add a lot of functionality to Obsidian, they can also slow it down if you have too many running at once. Try disabling any non-essential plugins to see if that improves performance.
  3. Clear Cache: Sometimes the application cache gets clogged up and causes performance issues. Go into your iPhone settings > General > iPhone Storage > Obsidian and then tap on ‘Offload App’. This will delete the app but keep all its documents and data. Then reinstall Obsidian from App Store.
  4. Avoid complex queries: If you’re using Dataview or similar plugins, try to avoid overly complex queries that might be putting a strain on the app.
  5. Close background apps: Other apps running in the background could be affecting Obsidian’s performance. Close any unnecessary apps before launching Obsidian.
  6. Update iOS & App: Make sure both your operating system and your app are updated to their latest versions as performance improvements are often part of updates.
  7. Contact Support: If none of these tips help, it may be worth reaching out to Obsidian’s support team directly for assistance with this issue.

Remember that syncing large amounts of data can take time and resources, so try not to overload it by adding too many new files at once or making lots of edits in a short space of time.

I was kind of dubious, especially of number 5, since on iOS there really isn’t anything like a background app. It doesn’t work that way. I also didn’t have any really large notes. I turned off all the plugins I didn’t absolutely need. I wasn’t sure what constituted a complex Dataview query. Most of mine seem simple enough, looking only for a single criteria, usually a tag. I was running the latest version of iOS and of the public release of Obsidian. My results weren’t that different after trying these steps so I decided to contact Obsidian support, seeing how it’s a benefit for those who pay for sync.

The Official Take

The response from support was quick and honest. The person who wrote me acknowledged the issues and said they were being addressed in an upcoming release. She also said “However, it is worth noting that depending on the size of your vault, and what plugins you are using, you may be running to out of cache memory issues on this older device (remember I was rocking a four-year old phone). Obsidian is not the most lightweight of applications. D:

Known amplifiers of this case:

  • Using heavier memory plugins like Dataview and Metabind
  • Enabling the backlinks core plugin on mobile
  • Enabling the graph view core plugin on mobile
  • Having the vault also be in iCloud on mobile

Known alleviations of this case separate from above:

  • Backing up your vault, and reinstalling Obsidian on mobile if your current install of the application was pre 17.0.”

The Solution

I did everything tech support suggested and guess what? The problem didn’t get any better. For me and the way I use Obsidian, an iPhone 11 wasn’t going to cut it. I ordered an upgrade, to the 15 Pro Max and since then I haven’t had to resort to deleting and redownloading my files. I still have to wait awhile when I launch the app while things load and sync, but it becomes useable much more quickly. I tend to use Draftsfor quick capture since it’s so easy to move notes from there into my vault. I still have backlinks and graph view turned off and I don’t sync certain folder that have lots of attachments. I don’t really need my recipe collection on my phone anyway.