Getting started with Airtable sync
  • 27 Oct 2023
  • 17 Minutes to read
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Getting started with Airtable sync

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Article Summary

The Airtable sync feature allows users to sync records from a source to one or more destination bases in Airtable. Setting up a sync requires a shared view that's enabled for syncing. Syncs can be configured to be only one-way, two-way, or to bring multiple sync source data into a single table via multi-source syncing. In this article, you will learn how to set up a basic one-way sync, the expected behavior of syncs, and some common limitations that are good to understand.

Introduction

Plan availabilityAll paid plans with varying limitations
Permissions

Owners/Creators - In order to create or update synced table configurations, you'll need to have creator permissions in the base(s) where you are setting up the sync.

Editors - Users with editor permissions can configure share links to allow creators the ability to sync that source view in other bases, but they are unable to configure destination syncs.

Platform(s)Web/Browser, Mac app, and Windows app
Related reading
Try it in Airtable
Create a sync


Configuring a basic sync

This walkthrough will cover the basics of setting up a one-way sync between two Airtable bases. Two-way syncing, multi-source syncing, and Airtable sync integrations overview all involve more considerations and different configuration options. That information is covered more extensively in the articles linked above, but the process is more or less the same for the initial sync source setup.

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Step 1: Navigate to the table you want to use as the source

You can either choose an existing view in a table or create a new view just for setting up this sync. In most cases, we recommend creating a new view. You can duplicate a view that matches your needs if an existing one already exists.

In either case, remember that the source view may have filters, hidden fields, or field or table editing permissions. Each of these settings could impact the way that the sync can be configured in the destination base. Once you have created the new view or chosen an existing view you can move on to the next step.

Step 2: Configure view share settings
  1. Find the Share and sync button and click it. We cover more about the view share menu in this article.
  2. This will open a menu of options. Click Sync data to another base.
  3. From here, you'll next to toggle on the option to Allow data in this view to be synced to other bases.
  4. This will cause additional configuration settings and sync options to appear. You can move on to the next step now.
Step 3: Preparing to sync in a destination table in another base

You should now see a screen similar to the one shown below:

Depending upon who will be setting up the destination(s) for the sync you might take a few different actions here:

  • You are ready to set up the destination sync in a base you have access - Click Sync this view and choose the appropriate location to sync to. Then, move on to step 5 below.
  • Another user will set up the sync in a base where you don't have access - Click Copy shared view link and send the other user that link so that they can use it for setup purposes. Alternatively, other users (with access to this base) can choose a specific view with syncing enabled to set up a sync destination in another base when creating a new table.
  • (Enterprise Scale/Business plans only) You want to enable users across your organization to sync this data - Consult this support article for more information.
Step 4: Begin configuration in a destination table

If you clicked Sync this view in the last step you can skip to the next step, otherwise, navigate to the base where you want to set up the sync and follow these steps:

  1. Click + Add or import to begin creating a new table.
  2. Under Add from other sources choose the Airtable base option.
  3. This will open a configuration window where you can either select the Base, Table, and View to use as the source or enter the shared view link from the previous step. Click Next when you are ready to move on.
Step 5: Configure sync settings

Whether you added the new destination sync from the source view or chose a source view from the sync destination base, you'll be brought to an additional configuration window. From here:

  1. Choose to sync:
    • All fields in the source or
    • Specific fields in the source...
    • Note
      The Advanced section includes the option to set a different primary field for the sync. This is covered in another section below.

  2. Click Next. Additional options will appear that include:
    • Whether or not users can Edit source records. This option may not always be available, as two-way syncing will have need to be enabled. We cover that option in more detail in this article.
    • Sync frequency - Can be set to automatically update the sync or only sync manually. More information about these options is listed in the dependencies section below.
    • Record deletion behavior - Can be set to delete when records are deleted in the source or to be kept in the base even when they are deleted in the source. Again, more considerations are available in the dependencies section.

Once you have configured the sync the way you'd like click Create table.

Step 6: Post-sync considerations

After clicking Create table, it may be a moment before the table appears, especially when syncing over larger sets of data. A few considerations now that the sync has been set up:

  • The table's name in the destination will appear as the name of the synced view. In certain cases, you may want to change the table name to something else.
  • If you'd like to go back and adjust a sync's settings later, then navigate to the Update sync configuration option from the destination table's drop-down menu.
  • You may also want to set a table description so that other users know where the data is coming from and who to contact if the sync breaks.


Sync limitations

Limitations by plan type
Workspace planSync sources per baseSynced tables per baseAutomatic syncing 1Multi-source syncTwo-way syncSync integration type access
Enterprise Scale5020


Standard, Premium, and On-prem
Business5020


Standard and Premium
Team110


Standard integrations only
Note
Airtable Sync is unavailable on Free plan workspaces.

1 Automatic syncs will eventually stop on bases that don't have any recent activity. To keep automatic syncs active make sure that some kind of action (i.e. create a record, update a record, create a new view, etc.) is being performed in the base on a regular basis.

General limitations
  • Sync reads per source base - 400 reads per minute
    • Reaching this limit is uncommon in most use cases.
    • Essentially, this is a limit on how many times synced tables can read from a source base for the purpose of syncing from it.
  • Maximum number of syncable source views per base - 100 share viewswith sync enabled per base
    • Each source view can have a large number of destinations (targets), however, a single base cannot exceed 100 views that have sync enabled on them.
  • Record limit per integrated sync source 10,000 records maximum
    • This limit only applies to integrated syncs. This limit does not apply to syncs that occur from one Airtable base to another Airtable base. In those cases, the limit would relate to the number of records that a base can have according to plan type.


Sync dependencies

One-way versus two-way sync considerations

Syncing is one-way process to get information from a source table in a base to a destination table in a base, unless the option to edit records has been enabled in both the source and the destination sync. For one-way syncs, this means that in the destination base you cannot:

  • Add or delete records in the synced table
  • Edit information in the fields that are synced

However, you can do many of the same things you can do with any regular table, including:

  • Link existing tables to synced tables
  • Create multiple views of the synced records
  • Add additional fields to the synced records to enrich them
  • Add a last modified field to see when the record was last synced
  • Add a button field to open the original record to edit it
  • Refer to the synced records from other tables using linked records and lookups
  • Use a view of the synced table to trigger automations
Field type syncing behavior
  • Field types that will sync in the same format - Attachment, date, long text (Rich text), multi select, number, single line text, single select, and user1
    • 1User field types in syncs created before March 14th, 2023 will sync as text fields. In order to have user fields sync in the same format, a user with creator permissions would need to recreate the sync in a new table. Note that this may not always be a feasible workaround in every scenario and it's important to think of the potential downstream effects of breaking the original sync.
  • Computed field type - Formulas, rollups, and other computed field types that produce text, numbers, or dates will sync as their result type
  • Field types that sync as text - Linked, lookup, buttons with the Open URL action
  • Field types that will not sync - Authenticated attachments
Actions that will sync from the source view
  • Adding a record (new rows may be added to the end of the view on the destination table)
  • Editing a record
  • Deleting a record
  • Adding a field (“sync all fields” must be turned on)
  • Changing a field’s configuration (supported fields)
  • Deleting or restoring a field
  • Changing the view’s filters or hidden fields
Actions that will not sync from the source view

Reordering, grouping, or sorting records.

Sync frequency options (Automatic or manual)

In the sync configuration process, there is an option to sync manually or automatically (Workspaces on the free plan will not see an option to sync automatically).

  • Turning on automatic syncing will cause the synced table to update in real-time. You can still manually sync a table, even if you have turned on automatic syncing. There are a few exceptions to real-time sync behavior:
    • Time-based formula fields (and all dependent fields) will not be instant – instead, they will periodically update.
    • Table syncs with Field Type Customized Linked Records will not be instant – instead, they will periodically update.
NOTE
Automatic syncs will eventually stop on bases that don't have any recent activity. To keep automatic syncs active make sure that some kind of action is being performed in the base on a regular basis. This can be accomplished via Airtable Automations or API. The idea is that by having either of these options periodically make an update to a base you will be able to trigger the automatic sync to run.
  • Manual sync can be accomplished on any plan at any time you choose. To manually sync your table click on the synced table's dropdown menu and click "Sync now". After you click the table will begin to update and save any changes. This process may take more time depending on the amount of information being synced. You will see an "All changes saved" message when the sync has finished successfully.
Field sync settings

From the sync configuration window, you can choose to sync all fields from the view or just some:

  • If you choose to sync all fields, then new fields added in the sync source will show up in the synced table when the next sync occurs.
  • If you choose to sync just some fields, then any new fields added in the source table will not sync until you have toggled them on as visible from the sync configuration window.

360089807294syncFieldSettings.gif

NOTE

If you do not see a table that you are expecting as an option, then you may need to check (or have a collaborator check) the settings in the source table/view.

Record retention

You can also choose how to handle records that are deleted or hidden in the source view: you can either delete or keep them in the destination table.

WARNING
If you choose the Delete the records in this table option, and records are deleted in the source table or filtered out of the synced view at any point in time, any additional information added to the synced destination table (e.g. linked records or other data in fields) will be removed.

Should you choose to Leave the records in this table you will be able to manually delete specific records that have been deleted in the sync source by clicking the Delete unavailable records... option.

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Primary field customization

While you are configuring a sync you'll arrive at the Advanced drop-down option on the Select fields to sync section. This option allows you to choose a specific field that will act as the primary field in Airtable. Primary fields should contain unique information in each cell to act as the primary key. Additionally, only certain field types are allowed to be used in the primary field.

6169704810647syncPrimaryFieldCustomization05172022.jpg

WARNING
If the field type in the sync source for this field is hidden or changed to an unsupported field type, then it will cause the sync to fail in the destination table. Consider locking the view being used as the sync source to prevent this from occurring.
Custom field types

After you've configured and created a synced table, you are able to customize each of the fields. To do this, click the drop-down next to the field's name, click Customize field type, and choose the field type that you want to change the field to.

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There are some important things to note about this feature:

  • If a field has had its type changed in the target base, that will take precedence over the field type from the source base.
  • Multi-source syncs will have different options than single-source syncs. These are covered in a separate article on multi-source syncing.


FAQs

How often do tables sync?

When you configure a table sync, you can choose to manually or automatically sync changes to your base. Automatic syncing occurs in real-time1 and is only available on paid plans.

360100929913syncoptions.png

Time-based formula fields (and all dependent columns) will not be instant – instead, they will periodically update. Table syncs with Field Type Customized Linked Records will not be instant – instead, they will periodically update.

Why can’t I see the option to turn on sync for my view?

We currently only support syncing from grid views.

What happens if I'm over the sync integration limits for my workspace?

Sync integrations can be managed from the workspace settings page as outlined in this support article.

What does it mean when the destination base says "an anonymous base" or "Unknown User"?

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In the Sync Activity log, if you have access to the destination base, you'll see the name of the base and the user who configured the sync. If instead, you see "an anonymous base" or "unknown user", this is due to one of the reasons below:

  • You do not have access to the base
  • The destination base has been deleted

If you're concerned about who might have access to the shared view link to set up a synced table, you can:

  • Regenerate your shared view link - When you do so, the sync will pause on all destination bases until it is re-authenticated. The users on the destination bases will see an error icon, along with the time the table last synced. To re-authenticate, they'll need the new syncable view share link. To use that link, click the dropdown next to the destination table, click Update sync configuration, and insert the new link.
  • Enable a password and/or email domain restrictions on the shared view link - If the view share link is restricted to example.com, an example.com Airtable account will be required to sync that view to any base. You can learn more about sync permissions here. Note that these restrictions can break existing syncs or published data sets that depend upon this shared view link.
What if the view share link is password-protected or email domain-restricted?

We respect password and email domain restrictions. For example, if the view share link is restricted to dundermifflin.com, a dundermifflin.com Airtable account will be required to sync that view to any base. Learn more about sync permissions here.

What happens if the view share link is removed or regenerated at the source?

The sync will pause until it is re-authenticated. You’ll see an error icon ⚠️, along with the time the table last synced.

To re-authenticate, you’ll need a new syncable view share link. Then, click the dropdown next to the destination table, select Update sync configuration, and provide the new link.

I have a linked record field linking to a Synced destination table. The record links are mysteriously unlinking. What is occurring?

It’s likely the case that someone is adjusting the filtering conditions (or hiding records) in the source view. If a record is filtered out of the source view, then, depending on your particular sync's settings, that record will in turn be removed from the destination table. If a record is removed from the destination table, that record will unlink from any linked record fields to that table.

You can address this issue is by locking the source view 🔐 (paid plans only), to prevent other collaborators from inadvertently changing the filtering conditions. You can also consider renaming the source view to warn people to not change the view’s filtering conditions.

What happens if the Airtable account of the person who set up the sync is deactivated?

If the shared view is domain restricted and the user that set up the sync loses access to the source base, the sync will pause. It may be worthwhile for an admin user to set up important syncs so that they are not interrupted.

If a field name is changed in the source how do I have that update in a sync destination?

By design, changing field names in a sync destination is meant to be difficult to change since formula fields, scripting, API calls, automations, and more may depend upon the current name of a field in the destination. For that reason, field names in the source and destination may not match if the name has been updated in the source. Use caution when using the workaround described and consider using the field manager to understand the dependencies in your base.

To update a destination table to match the name of the field in the sync source, first, navigate to the synced destination table and click the dropdown next to its name. Then, click Update sync configuration. This will open the sync configuration window. From here, click on the three-dot icon next to the source you would like the field's name to match and select Edit synced fields. If the Specific fields in the source option has not already been selected, choose that option. Then, toggle off the field that you'd like the name to match and hit Save. Next, you'll follow the same steps, this time toggling the option to sync that same field back on and then click Save once more. Optionally, you can repeat the process one more time by choosing the All fields in the source and fields added in the future option to return the sync configuration back to that functionality as well.

If the option to delete records when they are deleted or hidden in the source table is enabled, how can I determine if one of the synced records has been deleted or hidden?

You can add a button field with the ‘Open Source Record’ action. If the button is grayed out, the record has been deleted or hidden in the source view.

Will the synced table count toward the destination base’s record limits?

Yes. For example, if you sync a view with 1,000 records from a source base (where the records originate from), the destination base (where you want to sync the records) will count the 1,000 synced records towards that base's total record limit.

Will the attachments in a synced table count toward the destination base’s attachment limits?

Yes. Similar to the question above, attachments in a synced table will count against the attachment limit in that synced table's base.

Can I “daisy chain” syncs by syncing from the destination base to other bases?

Yes. However, daisy-chained syncs will not be reflected in sync sources/destinations enabled for two-way syncing.

Is there a way to filter for records that were deleted, or filtered out of, the source view in the source base?

Yes. If you choose to keep records in the destination base when they are deleted in the source base, then you can add a sync source record button field. If the button is not clickable, then the record was deleted, hidden, or filtered out of view in the source base.

Will record comments sync over to the destination base?

No. Record comments are scoped only to the base where the record resides. The records that reside in the destination table have a different record ID than the records in the source table, which means that even though there is a connection via the sync that you've set up, the records in each table are technically unique.

Can different bases be linked together?

While we don't support linking to individual records across multiple bases, you can add related tables into the same base. This case study demonstrates how a Airtable user interlinks dozens of tables into a single base.


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