Synchronisation (Offline First)

Open mSupply is truly offline first. This will save you headaches, but it’s also about resilience: it might save you in a disaster!

What does “Offline First” mean?

Most software applications used in large organisations are a web application – you use it from your browser, and so an internet connection is needed.
Offline First means that you’re using a locally installed application which doesn’t depend on the internet for everyday use.

Beware the fake offline experience

You may find some other solutions that claim to work offline. Be careful, as some of them only use what is known as the “local storage” of your web browser. Without getting too technical: we don’t think this is a good idea, and for some solutions it means you can’t really work offline for long before you get an error if you try to save data, or load a new invoice.

What about Starlink?

Internet provision via low earth orbit satellites will likely revolutionise the ability of remote health facilities to use real time software systems.
Will this make sync redundant? We think not. Our experience is that internet failures are not only caused by poor ISP connections (which Starlink solves), but also by someone forgetting to pay the bill, or a rat chewing through a cable. If a sync system can be set up with a minimum of additional cost, we think it is justified.

It’s a rolling backup!

One little-known benefit of a well functioning sync system is that the central server contains a full backup of every site, and consequently, if your local computers fail, or are stolen or destroyed, the facility can be up and running again within a few hours of obtaining new hardware by restoring data over the synchronisation system.


Our world’s environment is increasingly fragile, and a resilient system that can keep working in most conditions is a big asset.

It’s still multi-user!

Even Open mSupply on an Android tablet is multi-user. You can connect to other tablets, a desktop system or a web browser.
We think it’s a world first – in fact we got so excited we made a video about it.

Are there any downsides to Sync?

Yes, a sync system takes longer to set up. This is not a huge burden, and we think it’s worth it.
Another potential downside is that the data on your central dashboards is delayed by 5 minutes, rather than being truly “real time”. We think that’s a small price to pay, and overall data quality is improved by having more facilities up and running and not missing data due to internet outages.