Copyright © 2007-2017 JumpMind, Inc

Version 3.8.41

Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this SymmetricDS User Guide for any purpose and without fee is hereby granted in perpetuity, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph appear in all copies.


This user guide introduces SymmetricDS and its features for data synchronization. It is intended for users, developers, and administrators who want to install the software, configure synchronization, and manage its operation. Thank you to all the members of the open source community whose feedback and contributions helped us build better software and documentation. This version of the guide was generated on 2017-10-06.

1. Introduction

SymmetricDS is open source software for database and file synchronization, with support for multi-master replication, filtered synchronization, and transformation. It uses web and database technologies to replicate change data as a scheduled or near real-time operation, and it includes an initial load feature for full data loads. The software was designed to scale for a large number of nodes, work across low-bandwidth connections, and withstand periods of network outage.

1.1. System Requirements

SymmetricDS is written in Java and requires a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) Standard Edition (SE) or Java Development Kit (JDK) Standard Edition (SE) version 7.0 or above. Most major operating systems and databases are supported. See the list of supported databases in the Database Compatibility section. The minimum operating system requirements are:

  • Java SE Runtime Environment 7 or above

  • Memory - 64 (MB) available

  • Disk - 256 (MB) available

The memory, disk, and CPU requirements increase with the number of connected clients and the amount of data being synchronized. The best way to size a server is to simulate synchronization in a lower environment and benchmark data loading. However, a rule of thumb for servers is one server-class CPU with 2 GB of memory for every 500 MB/hour of data transfer and 350 clients. Multiple servers can be used as a cluster behind a load balancer to achieve better performance and availability.

SymmetricDS Pro is accessed from a web console, which requires one of the following supported web browsers:

  • Google Chrome 23 or newer

  • Internet Explorer 8 or newer

  • Mozilla Firefox 17 or newer

  • Safari 6 or newer

1.2. Overview

A node is responsible for synchronizing the data from a database or file system with other nodes in the network using HTTP. Nodes are assigned to one of the node Groups that are configured together as a unit. The node groups are linked together with Group Links to define either a push or pull communication. A pull causes one node to connect with other nodes and request changes that are waiting, while a push causes one node to connect with other nodes when it has changes to send.

Each node is connected to a database with a Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) driver using a connection URL, username, and password. While nodes can be separated across wide area networks, the database a node is connected to should be located nearby on a local area network for the best performance. Using its database connection, a node creates tables as a Data Model for configuration settings and runtime operations. The user populates configuration tables to define the synchronization and the runtime tables capture changes and track activity. The tables to sync can be located in any Catalog and Schema that are accessible from the connection, while the files to sync can be located in any directory that is accessible on the local server.


At startup, SymmetricDS looks for Node Properties Files and starts a node for each file it finds, which allows multiple nodes to run in the same instance and share resources. The property file for a node contains its external ID, node group, registration server URL, and database connection information. The external ID is the name for a node used to identify it from other nodes. One node is configured as the registration server where the master configuration is stored. When a node is started for the first time, it contacts the registration server using a registration process that sends its external ID and node group. In response, the node receives its configuration and a node password that must be sent as authentication during synchronization with other nodes.

1.3. Architecture

Each subsystem in the node is responsible for part of the data movement and is controlled through configuration. Data flows through the system in the following steps:

  1. Capture into a runtime table at the source database

  2. Route for delivery to target nodes and group into batches

  3. Extract and transform into the rows, columns, and values needed for the outgoing batch

  4. Send the outgoing batch to target nodes

  5. Receive the incoming batch at the target node

  6. Transform into the rows, columns, and values needed for the incoming batch

  7. Load data and return an acknowledgment to the source node


Change Data Capture (CDC) for tables uses database triggers that fire and record changes as comma-separated values into a runtime table called DATA. For file sync, a similar mechanism is used, except changes to the metadata about files are captured. The changes are recorded as insert, update, and delete event types. The subsystem installs and maintains triggers on tables based on the configuration provided by the user, and it can automatically detect schema changes on tables and regenerate triggers.


Routers run across new changes to determine which target nodes will receive the data. The user configures which routers to use and what criteria is used to match data, creating subsets of rows if needed. Changes are grouped into batches and assigned to target nodes in the DATA_EVENT and OUTGOING_BATCH tables.


Changes are extracted from the runtime tables and prepared to be sent as an outgoing batch. If large objects are configured for streaming instead of capture, they are queried from the table. Special event types like "reload" for Initial Loads are also processed.


If transformations are configured, they operate on the change data either during the extract phase at the source node or the load phase at the target node. The node’s database can be queried to enhance the data. Data is transformed into the tables, rows, columns, and values needed for either the outgoing or incoming batch.


The synchronization sends batches to target nodes to be loaded. Multiple batches can be configured to send during a single synchronization. The status of the batch is updated on the OUTGOING_BATCH table as it processes. An acknowledgment is received from target nodes and recorded on the batch.


The synchronization receives batches from remote nodes and the data is loaded. The status of the batch is updated on the INCOMING_BATCH table as it processes. The resulting status of the batch is returned to the source node in an acknowledgment.

1.4. Features

SymmetricDS offers a rich set of features with flexible configuration for large scale deployment in a mixed environment with multiple systems.

  • Web UI - The web console provides easy configuration, management, and troubleshooting.

  • Data Synchronization - Change data capture for relational databases and file synchronization for file systems can be periodic or near real-time, with an initial load feature to fully populate a node.

  • Central Management - Configure, monitor, and troubleshoot synchronization from a central location where conflicts and errors can be investigated and resolved.

  • Automatic Recovery - Data delivery is durable and low maintenance, withstanding periods of downtime and automatically recovering from a network outage.

  • Secure and Efficient - Communication uses a data protocol designed for low bandwidth networks and streamed over HTTPS for encrypted transfer.

  • Transformation - Manipulate data at multiple points to filter, subset, translate, merge, and enrich the data.

  • Conflict Management - Enforce consistency of two-way synchronization by configuring rules for automatic and manual resolution.

  • Extendable - Scripts and Java code can be configured to handle events, transform data, and create customized behavior.

  • Deployment Options - The software can be installed as a self-contained server that stands alone, deployed to a web application server, or embedded within an application.

1.5. Why SymmetricDS?

SymmetricDS is a feature-rich data synchronization solution that focuses on ease of use, openness, and flexibility. The software encourages interoperability and accessibility for users and developers with the availability of source code, an application programming interface (API), and a data model supported by documentation. Configuration includes a powerful set of options to define node topology, communication direction, transformation of data, and integration with external systems. Through scripts and Java code, the user can also extend functionality with custom behavior. With a central database for setup and runtime information, the user has one place to configure, manage, and troubleshoot synchronization, with changes taking immediate effect across the network.

The trigger-based data capture system is easy to understand and widely supported by database systems. Table synchronization can be setup by users and application developers without requiring a database administrator to modify the server. Triggers are database objects written in a procedural language, so they are open for examination, and include flexible configuration options for conditions and customization. Some overhead is associated with triggers, but they perform well for applications of online transaction processing, and their benefits of flexibility and maintenance outweigh the cost for most scenarios.

Using an architecture based on web server technology, many simultaneous requests can be handled at a central server, with proven deployments in production supporting more than ten thousand client nodes. Large networks of nodes can be grouped into tiers for more control and efficiency, with each group synchronizing data to the next tier. Data loading is durable and reliable by tracking batches in transactions and retrying of faults for automatic recovery, making it a low maintenance system.

1.6. License

SymmetricDS Pro is commercial software that is licensed, not sold. It is subject to the terms of the End User License Agreement (EULA) and any accompanying JumpMind Support Contract. See the standard SymmetricDS Pro license for reference, but your agreement with JumpMind may be different.

2. Installation

SymmetricDS at its core is a web application. A SymmetricDS instance runs within the context of a web application container like Jetty or Tomcat, and uses web based protocols like HTTP to communicate with other instances.

An instance has one of the following installation options:

  1. Standalone Installation - SymmetricDS is installed and run as a standalone process using the built-in Jetty web server. This is the simplest and recommended way to install an instance.

  2. Web Archive (WAR) - A SymmetricDS web archive (WAR) file is deployed to an existing web application container that is separately installed, maintained and run.

  3. Embedded - SymmetricDS is embedded within an existing application. In this option, a custom wrapper program is written that calls the SymmetricDS API to synchronize data.

2.1. Standalone Installation

The SymmetricDS installer is an executable jar file named symmetric-pro-<version>-setup.jar. In order to run the installer, you must have the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) version 6.0 or newer installed. Start the installer by double-clicking it (if the JRE is in your path and associated with .jar files), or by running it from a command prompt, like this:

java -jar symmetric-pro-<version>-setup.jar

The default installation will run in graphical mode, but it can also be run from a command window by adding the -console argument on the end of the command.

install first

The first screen is a Welcome screen that includes the SymmetricDS Pro version number. The installer will ask a series of questions before writing files to disk.

To begin selecting installation options, click Next.

install second

Specify whether you want to install a new version of SymmetricDS for the first time (Install new software) or upgrade an existing version of SymmetricDS that was previously installed (Upgrade existing software). For upgrade, the existing installation of SymmetricDS or SymmetricDS Pro is verified before continuing.

Select the appropriate option and click Next.

install third

Carefully read the SymmetricDS Pro License Agreement.

If you accept, select I accept the terms of this license agreement and click Next.

install fourth

Choose the installation path where SymmetricDS will either be installed or upgraded. If the directory does not already exist, it will be created for you. Make sure your user has permission to write to the file system.

After entering the directory path, click Next.

install fifth

Select the packages you want to install and verify disk space requirements are met. By default, all packages are selected. If you are NOT integrating SymmetricDS with Android, you can unselect the Android package.

After selecting packages, click Next.

install sixth

A standalone installation can either be run automatically by the system or manually by the user. Select the Install service to run automatically checkbox to install a Windows service or Unix daemon that will start SymmetricDS when the computer is restarted. The service can installed or uninstalled later using the Control Center or command line (see Running as a Service).

Select the Run server after installing checkbox to also run SymmetricDS after installation so it can be used immediately.

After selecting options, click Next.

We do not currently support the automatic run on Mac Operating Systems.
install seventh

For standard synchronization and web console access over HTTP, select the Enable HTTP checkbox. For encrypted synchronization and web console access over HTTPS, select the Enabled SSL checkbox.

The Java Management eXtensions (JMX) are a set of server properties and operations that can be used to manage the server. To enable a simple web console for JMX, select the Enable JMX checkbox. To enable remote access for JMX clients like JConsole and bin/jmx, select the Enable JMX Agent checkbox.

After selecting options and specifying unused ports, click Next.

install eigth

Confirm your installation settings and click Next to begin the installation.

install ninth

After SymmetricDS finishes installing, click Next.

install tenth

If you chose the option for the server to start after installation, wait for it to start and then click Next.