Lost Zotero data without back up folder

I had to completely restore my Mac, and I forgot to back up my Zotero data. I thought I was synchronizing with zotero cloud, but then I realized that I had exceeded my storage limit some months ago, losing all the data since then. Is there any way to recover my data? At least the names of all the papers and my organization, even if I lost the PDFs.

Thank you,
  • This will not help with your current situation but please consider buying an external drive for Mac TimeMachine backups. For $100 US you can buy a sufficiently large drive so that you will never need to worry about losses like you experienced. Time Machine takes care of this automatically.

    By exceeding your storage limit you didn't upload some files but your metadata should have synced. You can easily re-download the files from the publishers' websites.

    For your current situation: You can identify those items in your Zotero library without attachments and double-click the item. This will likely take you to the source website from which you first downloaded your record and file. You can download again and merge (keeping the file).
  • Hey thanks for your answer, unfortunately I also lost the metadata since April. That was when the storage capacity was exceeded. There is no way to recover this metadata right?
  • Data is unlimited with Zotero. Free. The storage limit only applies to attachment files (like PDFs). There is a good chance all your data is on Zotero, and all you have to do is set up syncing again on your computer.

    You can confirm by clicking on "Web Library" near the top of this page (assuming you used the same account to set up syncing and post on the forum).
  • In my web library, I have the same content as in my Zotero desktop application. Is it possible to download papers using a Chrome application and synchronize them with the desktop application without being connected to my account? Could this be the reason why I lost everything?
  • I have seen that I have two Automatic Zotero Client Key, one is the one that I am using now and the other was used for the last time before I restored my Mac. Is this a possible problem?? How do I switch between Keys?
  • Is it possible to download papers using a Chrome application and synchronize them with the desktop application without being connected to my account?
    Sure, syncing is optional and not enabled by default. You might have unlinked the app from syncing, or you might have transferred your Zotero data directory from another computer and forgotten to set up syncing on this computer. It's also possible to turn off syncing for specific libraries from the Sync pane of the preferences.

    It does look like one computer of yours was at least connecting to our servers throughout the year, but you indeed didn't upload any data since March. The computer that was connecting might be a computer where you weren't adding data, or you might have accidentally disabled syncing of My Library.

    Zotero warns you with a prominent banner if you haven't set up syncing or if auto-sync is disabled, though it's possible to ignore the warning. We don't currently warn if syncing is enabled generally but has been disabled for a specific library, so that very well may be what happened here.

    I'm afraid a local backup would be your only option. The data was just never on our servers. (I know this isn't helpful now, but you should never wipe your computer without a full backup — and as DWL says, Time Machine makes this trivial on a Mac.)
  • I see, then I have to start accepting that I have lost all my data. However, It's a bit weird that I never saw the banner and I don't remember disabling the sync for a specific library. I was using the sync green button from the app regularly.

    In any case, it's my fault for not doing a proper backup.

    Thanks for the help.
  • Any chance you had set up a second account, signed up with a different email, and you were syncing your data to it?
  • Unfortunately not.
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