What are incomplete submissions and how do I manage them?

Incomplete submissions are form submissions which have reached your SurveyCTO server without associated media attachments (including images, videos, audio recordings, audio audits). This happens sometimes because of a poor quality internet connection. There is nothing to be worried about because firstly, the text-based tabular data (exported later in a CSV file) has been received in full. Also, SurveyCTO Collect can keep on trying to send the rest of the submission.

Most incomplete submission warnings will resolve themselves through repeated attempts to send data on SurveyCTO Collect. There is a better chance of success when trying to do this on a better internet connection. You will become aware of failure to send a full submission on SurveyCTO Collect when you see the error message, "The submission was not complete, please retry."


As the manager of a SurveyCTO server console during data collection, you might see an error as follows at the top of the server console. This will only happen after several attempts on SurveyCTO Collect to send this record have failed. These warnings will also go away by themselves when the submission is eventually successful.


You have two choices on how to manage incomplete submissions:

  1. Accept incomplete submissions as they are, without attached media files. If you do this, attached media files will not be recoverable later using the SurveyCTO system. Only do this if the media files are not that important and having access to the data soon is more important than the media files.

  2. Do not accept the submission and try to submit the record in full. Try to find a better quality internet connection over which to submit incomplete submissions. All incomplete submissions will be listed in the Send Finalized Form menu on SurveyCTO Collect until they have been submitted in full.

Incomplete submissions are not yet part of the data, so will not appear in Exports or in the Data Explorer and as a result, you cannot view these records to help you make this decision. Only the information available in the incomplete submission warning on the server is available. This doesn't tell you which device the incomplete submission comes from. Data from an incomplete submission can only be viewed once you accept it as incomplete, or when it is eventually submitted in full.

Tips on reducing the size of attached media

Audio audits and photos are the two most common media file attachments, and fortunately, there are things you can do to try limit their size.

With audio audit recordings, simply be sparing about how much of interviews you record. You can always include several audio audit fields to record several small chunks of audio, rather than one long recording. Read more about audio audit strategy in this blog.

For photos that you take using image fields in your form designs, in SurveyCTO Collect, go into General Settings and choose an Image size option, to have SurveyCTO Collect compress the images before sending them to the server. 

Both of these measures can help reduce the frequency of incomplete submission errors.

Further troubleshooting

SurveyCTO caters for circumstances where data collection will take place mostly, or entirely offline, which can also help with incomplete submissions. See the documentation on operating more fully offline for full details. In brief, SurveyCTO Desktop running on a computer in conjunction with a travel router providing an internet-disconnected Wi-Fi network can act as a local server without an internet connection. Data, including media attachments, can be submitted to your local computer using this feature, eliminating internet connection-related problems with submitting data to your SurveyCTO server.

Now and then, some forms might generate massive media files which cannot be submitted to the server. For example, you might try to use an audio audit to record an entire interview (although we don’t recommend this practice). Files of 100MB or greater cannot be submitted directly to your SurveyCTO server. You will have to use the above feature for operating more fully offline to recover such large media attachments.

If you are a paid or trial user and you have worked your way through the above troubleshooting steps and are still not sure how to resolve your problem, you can open a support ticket from the Support Center. If you are a free community user, so do not have access to our support team, you can post a question in the community forum to get assistance from other users.

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