Fitbit information and troubleshooting

This page provides information on various issues that participants or study teams encounter with Fitbit studies.


What info is useful for troubleshooting?

In the sections below we describe how to diagnose and solve specific problems encountered by participants. Many of those diagnoses rely on similar diagnostic “testing”, so first we’ll provide an overview of the information and how to get it.

  • What’s in the app?

    • What recent step counts are shown in the app?

    • What account are they signed into?

      • From the Fitbit app home screen, click “You”, then your name. That will bring up a screen showing the profile info.

    • What devices are attached to their account?

      • From the Fitbit app home screen, click the devices icon in the top left corner. That will bring up a screen listing all their physical devices (e.g. watches) as well as the phone if it’s being used for activity tracking.

      • In our experience, tracking steps with a device alongside a phone (using MobileTrack) is a recipe for inconsistent, unexpected data. As Fitbit reconciles the two data sources they sometimes increase or decrease step counts in unexpected ways, or change data retroactively after w2h has already downloaded it. Our recommendation is to always turn off MobileTrack, unless it’s being used as the only step tracker.


  • Check the devices page in the participant record. This will show a few things:

    • Device state - indicated with wording (e.g. Unstable, Working, etc.) as well as color. For Fitbit

    • Fitbit profile info (full name, member since, date of birth, encodedId). All of these should match the profile info seen in the Fitbit app. If they don’t match, that means the participant has authorized one account with w2h, but has logged into a different one on their phone. Either they should reauthorize w2h to their other account, or they should log into the other account on their phone and link the device.

    • Last download attempt - the last time w2h downloaded data from them. If their account is successfully authorized, this should be within the past few hours. If it’s older than that, most likely the participant has deauthorized w2h from accessing their data.

    • Device info (battery, deviceVersion, id, lastSyncTime) of their most recently synced device. This can tell you a few things:

      • If these fields are blank (but profile info is populated) that means they don’t have a device attached to their account

      • If lastSyncTime is old, it may indicate that they’re simply not syncing.

      • If the deviceVersion says MobileTrack, that means they have MobileTrack active and that it’s sending data more recently than their Fitbit watch. See above for why we recommend turning off MobileTrack.

      • If the deviceVersion lists a different device that’s different than what you expect, it may imply that the participant has linked the wrong account to w2h.

  • Manage data

    • Go to ppt profile → Data → Fitbit Steps. You should see something like [screenshot - steps highlighted in red, timestamps in blue]

    • Typically, you’ll see multiple rows over the course of the day with timestamp increasing, plus one row with timestamp of 23:59.

    • If you see no data or steps = 0, …

    • Pay attention to the received in w2h time for the thing attached to the event. If that was received later than expected per the study protocol, …

Diagnosing and solving specific problems

Problem: Fitbit devices show as Unstable

Due to some underlying technical quirks with multiple Fitbit devices, sometimes Fitbit devices can show on the devices page as Unstable (white background) rather than Working (green background). As long as data is continuing to flow, the Unstable status by itself is not cause for concern. Reauthorizing or other troubleshooting is only required if there are other issues going on (such as data not coming in or coming late).

Problem: No Steps or 0s

There are a few possible root causes for no step data in Manage Data or step counts of 0. Check the following things, and then the table below summarizes which set of symptoms suggest a particular root cause and the solutions for that root cause.

Root cause

Signs and Symptoms


Root cause

Signs and Symptoms


Device (watch) not syncing with app

  • App doesn't show recent step counts

  • Lastsynctime on devices page is old

  • Manage Data will have rows with steps=0

Toggle bluetooth on and off on participant’s phone

See [Fitbit’s documentation] on other potential solutions

App not syncing with Fitbit cloud

This is not a frequent occurrence - when you sync the wearable with the app it either syncs immediately with the cloud or gives a warning banner in the app.

This can be diagnosed fully though by logging into the fitbit web application and seeing what step counts appear there.

Ensure the phone has a reliable internet connection.

Not authorized, or auth was cleared by staff

  • Devices page is white and blank

  • No new rows on Manage Data

Reauthorize the participant’s device [link]

Device not linked to fitbit account

  • Devices page is green but has no device info

    • Note that this is not a perfect signal - if a participant used to have a device linked and they unlinked it, the devices page will continue to show their old device.

Have the participant add the wearable device to their Fitbit account. See instructions [here].

Device linked to different account than is authorized for w2h

  • Devices page is green but has no device info

  • Fitbit profile ID/other info doesn't match profile info shown on devices page

Reset authorization on the participant’s Fitbit account, and then have them authorize the correct account

Something is up with w2h’s download mechanism

  • Device state is working/unstable/authorized but last download attempt is old

  • We’re suddenly not getting data for a bunch of participants

  • Probably a w2h issue. Put in a ticket

Problem: w2h is reporting a different (non-zero) step count than what the ppt is reporting

Root Cause

How do you know


Root Cause

How do you know


We haven’t downloaded their most recent step count yet (or we hadn’t, at the time we sent out feedback)

  • received in w2h timestamps in Manage Data



  • fitbit activity shows activities with auto_detected as true (which means MobileTrack)

  • Sometimes, the devices page will say device type is mobile track, but only if that was the most recently synced

On your Fitbit app go to your account screen (on the opening page click on the small photo or person icon top left).  On the account screen scroll down to Mobile Track and click on the 3 dots and choose "unpair".



Questions about Fitbit Data

More information on the data we get from Fitbit devices can be found at:

Fitbit and Google Accounts

We are aware of issues some participants are facing relating to Fitbit and Google Accounts. This documentation will be updated soon to incorporate guidance on that topic.