There was an error starting Zotero (Win 7x64, FF 3.6.18, Zotero 2.1.18)


I have now successfully used Zotero for two weeks, and I am impressed about how it can be used to capture bibliographic information from different databases for the PDFs I already had. I was very happy until right now.

Suddenly, when capturing an article from IEEE eXplore I got just an error message at the top level of the library asking me to restart FireFox. I did, but then Zotero fails to start. The only message is the pop-up window saying "There was an error starting Zotero [OK]". I have tried to re-install Zotero, but no joy. Have also tried to restart the computer, no joy. I am left with suggestions for what could cause this problem. Any suggestions?

Thanks a million!
  • edited September 21, 2011
    I have submitted a bug report with ID D331170344 for this as follows:

    (3)(+0000000): Using data directory P:\Literature\Bibliography

    (3)(+0000001): Opening database 'zotero'

    (3)(+0013374): Getting Zotero sync password

    (3)(+0000004): Opening database 'zotero'

    [additional debug output removed — D.S.]
  • Sorry, but I am running FF 3.6.20 and there is no devtools.errorconsole.enabled. [I know I should upgrade, but I can not upgrade to FF 4 because of other job related plug-ins that do not work (yet) with FF4] Any other ideas?
  • I've updated the instructions to include Firefox 3.6.
  • edited August 17, 2011
    Thanks, Dan!

    However, I did some debugging myself helped by advice in other threads reporting the same problem - and first checked the database with the "sqlite3" command shell (, starting "sqlite3 zotero.sqlite" and when giving the ".database" command it reported FILE I/O error. This made sense since the error occurred "in-flight" without any changes made to the computer or FireFox.

    Corrupted file?!? My Zotero data directory resides in a folder synchronised against a network server at work for backup reasons. I started using Zotero with an archive of about 2000 PDFs hierarchically organised for which I am adding meta data as I go along and cite the papers, so even though the meta data is safe at the Zotero server, the index made for the linked files or the relative links to the PDF files might not be. So, although you discourage the use of networks disks, this set up has worked for me until now.

    I doubted a local disk error (using SSDs), however, if Window's synchronisation database had errors, that would show up as FILE I/O errors for other applications trying to access the synchronised directories. So I
    1) Closed FireFox to release the file handles,
    2) Fired up VPN and synchronised the folder against the network server at work,
    3) After synchronisation (and VPN disconnect) I restarted FireFox and Zotero started without problems.

    This solutions is provided in case others face similar errors in the future.

    Case closed and thanks again!
  • You might want to check your database integrity from the Advanced pane of the Zotero preferences. If you're storing your database on a network server, I would recommend regular testing of your database, at least until you're completely assured that it's working properly.
  • edited August 17, 2011
    Thanks for the hint!

    Will do! It has been working very well until the crash today - intense use in two weeks. After the crash there was one minor error in one entry, and Zotero impressed me again by detecting this when synchronising with the on-line library and offered me excellent control for resolving the conflict. I am very happy with Zotero after I found CPLuser's BiBTeX export hack , and will do my best to recommend it! Keep up the good work!
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