Lux Absio Bervatum

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Re: a very specific problem with Chrome sync on iPhone

This is a post about a really specific technical problem involving Chrome sync on iOS. I'm putting it here because I spent two days trying to figure out what the issue was and could not find a solution anywhere. This way, maybe someone with the same problem will be saved some trouble.

I recently upgraded to a new phone and it was great except I could not get Chrome to sync properly on the new device. Logged into Gmail fine, Google Calendar worked normally, and connecting my Google account in Chrome seemed to work okay except it didn't fully sync (it pulled a little of my history but none of my passwords or payment methods).

I was upgrading from an iPhone 8 to an iPhone 12. I backed up the iPhone 8 to my computer, then restored that backup onto the iPhone 12. Had to log back in to some apps but all my data seemed intact. Great. Everything was behaving itself except Chrome. I googled like mad trying to figure out why:

  • chrome ios won't sync
  • chrome sync ios broken
  • chrome iphone won't sync passwords
  • force chrome sync iphone
  • chrome sync stuck ios
  • chrome not syncing ios 14.7.1
I tried turning the phone off and back on, totally logging out of my Google account in every app and then logging back in, turning sync off and back on. Nothing worked. The Chrome browser on my phone would say it was in the process of syncing but it made no progress even if I waited hours.

So here's the solution I stumbled upon by accident and was not mentioned in any of the documentation or various sites I read: If you are trying to sync Chrome on a device that was restored from a backup, make sure the original device (the source of the backup) is turned off. Seems fairly obvious in hindsight, but nothing I read mentioned that. As soon as I turned off the old iPhone 8 the Chrome sync on the iPhone 12 completed fully in a couple minutes or less.