How Do I Backup My Zotero Library
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The most important file in the data directory is the zotero.sqlite file, which is the database containing the majority of your data: item metadata, notes, tags, etc. When Zotero starts up, it reads the zotero.sqlite file in the active data directory.
Your data directory will likely contain several other files and folders. These can include zotero.sqlite.bak (an automatic backup of zotero.sqlite, which is updated periodically if the existing zotero.sqlite.bak file hasn't been updated in the last 12 hours) and zotero.sqlite.[number].bak files (automatic backups of zotero.sqlite that are created during certain Zotero updates), as well as folders such as locate, logs, pipes, styles, and translators that are created automatically at Zotero startup.
We strongly recommend that you regularly back up your Zotero data directory. While syncing is a great way to make sure you can restore your libraries if something happens to your computer, it's not a substitute for a proper backup: the Zotero servers only store the most recent version of your libraries, and it takes just a single (possibly automatic) sync to change the server copy (though some inadvertent changes can be restored from Zotero's automatic backups).
Rather than backing up just your Zotero database, we recommend using a backup utility that automatically backs up your entire hard drive to an external device on a regular basis and keeps incremental backups so that you can restore to a given version. Most modern operating systems offer such functionality (e.g., Time Machine on Macs).
If you really want to back up your Zotero data specifically, locate your Zotero data, close Zotero, and copy your data directory (the entire folder, including zotero.sqlite and storage and the other subfolders) to a backup location, preferably on another storage device. As with all important data, it's a good idea to back up your Zotero data frequently, which is why we recommend an automated full-system backup instead.
If you were using Zotero syncing and have an empty local library, you can likely restore your data simply by syncing with your online library. After verifying that your library is correct on zotero.org, simply reenter your username and password in the Sync pane of the Zotero preferences and click the Sync button in the toolbar. (Zotero only syncs explicit deletions, so just syncing an empty library won't overwrite the server data unless you deleted items manually.)
If you have a local Zotero library that you want to overwrite, close Zotero and delete the old Zotero data directory before syncing. Syncing your database with a different Zotero account will also prompt you to remove the existing local database.
If you were not using Zotero syncing (or were but don't want to perform a full sync) and have a backup of your Zotero data directory, you can restore your library by replacing your active data directory with your backed-up data directory.
Note that, if you were using Zotero syncing, any changes you made to your library since the backup and subsequently synced to your online library will be applied to your restored database as soon as you sync. If you don't want that to happen, see the following section.
If you or someone else made unwanted changes to your Zotero library and synced those changes to your online library, you may be able to restore data by using a local backup of your Zotero data directory.
If you're happy with the results, you can re-enable auto-sync and continue working. Keep zotero.sqlite.old and your .bak file backups until you're sure all your data is intact and in sync across all your computers.
If you were not using syncing, you may wish to export to Zotero RDF any items added since the database upgrade and then reimport those into the earlier version. Sorting your library by Date Added may help you find such items.
While you can sync your library with the Zotero servers by using a Zotero account (see how here), syncing is no substitute for regularly backing up. The most recent version of your library is the only one stored on Zotero's servers, and one automatic sync can change the entire copy on the server, making it easy to lose work or corrupt your synced data.
You can easily export a copy of your Zotero library by going to Files > Export Library and choosing "Zotero RDF" and checking the boxes for both "Export Notes" as well as "Export Files."
Although you can back up your Zotero library with Zotero Online, things can sometimes go wrong with cloud based storage. Similarly, other errors could also happen to your Zotero library stored on your computer. So, it is important to back up your Zotero library regularly. Try the following steps to save a backup library on an external device.
This will save your library of references as a 'My Library.ris' file. It is useful to have this backup in case you are working offline and/or if you cannot connect to Zotero Cloud. To download the file, have to Import the file into an empty Zotero Library.
If you're regularly using more than one computer in your research, Zotero's sync feature can keep your library up to date on all of them. Zotero can store a copy of your library on the Zotero.org server and check it for updates whenever you open your library on a different computer. All your computers must be running the same version of Zotero.
Repeat this configuration on each of your computers. Any updates you make on one of your computers will be reflected on the others. This even works to synchronize your library among Windows, Mac and Linux computers.
Set up automatic syncing in Zotero preferences so that any changes to your Zotero Library syncs to the Cloud. Back up your Zotero library by exporting it as a file and save this on a different computer or to the network drive at UCL.
It is important to remember that the information you save into your Zotero library, just like any other documents you save onto your hard drive, needs to be backed up. It is generally good practice, recommended by WCTS, to back up your entire hard drive periodically. However, you can also backup your personal Zotero library. This is especially important if you are using Zotero over the course of a longer research project, like a thesis.
Zotero is a free, easy-to-use software that can help you collect, manage and cite your research sources. It functions as a stand-alone desktop application that can be used with Firefox, Chrome, Edge, or Safari. (Be aware that there is ongoing work on Safari support because there have been some bugs in Mac support for browser extensions -- you may find it easier to use Chrome or Firefox with Zotero.) Zotero has a group function online that enables multiple users to share citations. Install Zotero by visiting zotero.org.
To get started, you need to download Zotero standalone, which can be used with Firefox, Chrome, Edge, or Safari (there are currently some bugs with Safari however). You also need to download the Zotero Connector for the browser you use. This lets the browser communicate with your Zotero database. Before you start collecting citations, open the Zotero standalone application. It will appear in a separate window and will enable you to send citations from Chrome or Safari to your Zotero library.
While Zotero stores all research information locally on your computer by default, Zotero's sync functionality allows you to maintain one up to date Zotero library and access it on any computer with internet access.
The most important file in the data directory is the zotero.sqlite file, which is the database containing the majority of your data: item metadata, notes, tags, etc. The directory also contains a 'storage' subdirectory, containing all of your file attachments, such as PDFs, web snapshots, audio files, or any other files you have imported.
6. Finally, in the middle column of your library, right click (or command-click) on one or multiple references with attachments and select Manage Attachments > Send to Tablet. The next time OneDrive syncs, your PDFs will sync as well.
Moving your Zotero library to Dropbox, Google Drive, or other cloud storage will irreparably corrupt your Zotero library. Instead, you can use these services to store attachments using Linked File Attachments.
You can access your Zotero profile from the home page (once you've logged un) by clicking on My profile > Edit profile. From there, it's possible to set up your Zotero account to make it, and the associated library, public.
Please note: if your Zotero library already has items in it, move all the data initially stored in the Zotero directory (created automatically when Zotero Standalone is installed) to the desired storage space.
Select Sync, enter your account information, and press the Set Up Syncing button. Zotero will then sync your library and files automatically to zotero.org and on any other computers on which you have Zotero installed.
This will enable you to use the Locate menu to easily access the library's full text articles and place interlibrary loan requests for items we don't own. The Locate menu is the green arrow above the right-hand details pane in Zotero; changing the link resolver modifies the Library Lookup option in the Locate menu.
Your off-campus access to library resources uses the library's proxy server. Zotero will detect when you're using a proxy system. The first time you access a site, it will ask if you want to save that site in your proxies. The aim is to make your access to full text articles more seamless.
First, download and install Portable Firefox for Windows or Mac on your USB drive. This is a special edition of Firefox designed to run entirely from a portable drive. It keeps its own settings, bookmarks and Zotero library separate from the settings installed on your computer.
If you're regularly using more than one computer in your research, Zotero's sync feature can keep your library up to date on all of them. Zotero can store a copy of your library on the Zotero.org server and check it for updates whenever you open your library on a different computer. All your computers must be running the same version Zotero and be configured to sync to the server. 2b1af7f3a8