I've noticed that some of the background tasks which are supposed to be running on my phone haven't been. It's enough that I'm fairly certain it's an OS-level problem affecting all apps on the phone.

A few particular examples:

  • Paper Shuffle does not reliably (if at all) rotate the wallpaper on schedule. It will go hours on end without a rotation, while being scheduled to run at 20-30 minute intervals. When manually forced to shuffle though, it works fine.
  • Battery Level for WP8 will not update the lock screen or live tile unless I actually launch the app.
  • Until I opened the app a minute ago, The TV Show live tile said that Dexter episode 8x10 was due to air in 2 days. However, an event reminder fired off earlier to let me know (correctly) that the episode was airing tonight.

What could cause such a global failure of background tasks on my phone? All of these apps are authorized to run in the background, and are opened on a fairly regular basis. What other troubleshooting steps should I try?

Since this is not isolated to a single app, I don't think a re-install of any of these apps is likely to help. Also, I'd really rather not have to re-build the data (e.g.: show lists & watch history, wallpaper lists & preferences, etc.) associated with them either.

  • I'm not sure if I can explain why this would happen, but I can confirm that I have seen this as well. I have seen my Lumia 920 stop updating all background tasks before. Not even restarting the phone would help. This never lasted longer than two days in my experience. Hopefully yours starts working quickly. – caschw Sep 9 '13 at 10:21
  • This has been ongoing for a couple weeks, at least, for me. – Iszi Sep 9 '13 at 11:09
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    Just to cover the basics, is Battery Saver on all the time? is the phone on Wifi much? do you have the GDR2 update yet? – Neil Turner Sep 9 '13 at 21:05
  • @NeilTurner Battery Saver: Sorry, thought I'd mentioned - it's only set to on when the battery is critically low, which it isn't often. Wi-Fi: Whenever I'm home, yes. Generally not while I'm out. GDR2: No. I'm on a Lumia 920 from AT&T in the U.S. - we're still waiting for approval. :-( – Iszi Sep 10 '13 at 3:41
  • I don't know how much this helps but I've noticed that my background apps that use data tend to be more timely in updating when on cellular data as opposed to wifi. – karancan Sep 12 '13 at 23:55

There are a number of documented (and undocumented) restrictions on background tasks. You cannot have more than a certain number of them active at once. But I have also found that if you have too many apps that have a background task registered (=they show up under Settings, applications, background tasks) that this can cause all background processing to stop, even if most/all of these tasks are set to blocked.

That last one seems to be undocumented AFAIK, but deleting apps that show up in this list to get the total number of background tasks below a certain threshold could make tasks that are allowed start working again. I've had background tasks not working for weeks on end on my 920 after culling my app list to make sure the list of registered background tasks wasn't very long. Reboots do not help one bit if you get in this situation.

I hope this behaviour improves with updates. Have not seen the problem reappear in the GDR3 developer preview. But then again, I try to keep my background task list a short as possible these days.

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