HELP! Can't get Zotero to open Library!

I am a bit desperate about this one! I backed up Zotero using the backup advice given on this forum, (path slightly different because I am backing up on to a data stick) and lost the "storage" file in the Zotero folder while doing it. Fortunately I had a copy and copied it into the Zotero file, but now Zotero won't open it.
I think I lost the file originally because I had a misnamed .PDF file in it. It had seemed to work ok before I tried to back up though. Windows Explorer told me it was misnamed (had a colon in it) but gave me no way to fix it.
I went through the copy of "storage" one file at a time but the file was not misnamed when I found it
Everything is now, as far as I can see, in the right place - ie the Zotero folder is in G\System\Apps\Firefox Portable\ Firefox Portable\Data\profile\zotero which was where it was when it worked. It just won't open!
Help, what can I do??? WEEKS of work could get lost or corrupted! (its a PhD thesis)
  • A few questions:
    1. When you open Zotero are there any items there at all?
    2. Is your zotero.sqlite file in the Zotero folder?
  • Sorry about the time delay, I am 10 hours out of sync with you.
    1. Yes, "My Library" (the only collection) has one file, a Zotero - Quick start guide
    2. The zotero folder contains a "storage" folder, and 2 files; zotero .sqlite and zotero .sqlite.bak
    Very grateful for your offer of assistance!
  • Here's a guess. I had .pdf files attached to some Zotero entries. Subsequently trying to independently back up my (separate) "store copy" I noticed the folders would stop copying when they got to a .pdf which had an incorrect filename. It unaccountably had a colon at the end of the filename before the extension. This showed up in the error message, but not in the filename in Win Explorer,(who knows why) and editing the filename did not seem to remove it. I have since replaced one file, since editing did not work, and am trying to search for a second which also seems to have a colon, however the University library database I found it on is not working properly right now (sigh!) so I can't.
    I don't know why the files with colons worked in the original location, but every time since, that I have tried to copy the folder containing them, Windows has stopped me. However it also seems to stop the whole copying process - ie nothing after that item gets copied. Therefore I think that the files I thought I had backed up, weren't. They must be a different version to the one that Zotero thought was there beforehand. Would this explain why the Zotero application can't read them? Is the backup corrupted? Does this mean it also thinks the original is corrupted?
    I have tried using Zotero Preferences > Advanced > Storage location > Custom, to point to a backup copy with another name, but that didn't work either.
    If I go hunting through 'storage' in what I think is the best version, I can find the files that are "colonised". Would replacing them in this folder work or would it just make it more unrecognisable to Zotero?
    Hope this helps
  • edited April 1, 2008
    Julia: Yes, if the copying process was interrupted before the zotero.sqlite file was copied, Zotero would create a new, empty zotero.sqlite file in that directory, and you would see an empty library regardless of what was in your storage folder (though Zotero should have prompted you that you were trying to set the storage directory to a non-empty folder without a valid database file, unless the copying process somehow created a zero-length file).

    You'll need to point Zotero to a folder with a valid zotero.sqlite file to see your records. The "storage" folder only contains attachment files, not your records.

    There's a ticket to fix the issue of files getting saved with invalid characters on Windows (since, as you discovered, the OS seems to allow them to be saved and then do really weird things in Explorer). It won't fix existing files, though, so your best bet is to delete or rename those if you can.
  • As serendipity would have it, just as I had finished reading your post and was wondering how to find the correct sqlite files, a database whizz walked into my office and found them. Massive sense of relief and outbreaks of champagne! I offered to buy him a tropical island, but he didn't take it up! Possibly he knew the financial state of a fellow PhD student. However without your advice I would not have been able to identify the problem for him. All seems to be functioning ok, although I am very wary now of making backups!
    I have hunted down and removed the .PDF's with colons that I know about, both from within Zotero and from their original directory. I'd love to have a way other than by causing heart attacks of finding any other files with odd things in them, as the funny file additions don't seem to show up in their names. Do you have any suggestions for how to do a really cautious backup?
  • Do you have any suggestions for how to do a really cautious backup?
    If you right-click on a folder and select Properties, it should show you the total file size and the number of files it contains. If both the byte count and the number of files match, that's probably a pretty good indication that you've made a complete backup. The byte count might not stay the same if you copy to a different drive. (I can't remember if Windows takes filesystem block size into consideration.)

    Most importantly, you'd want to make sure the size of the zotero.sqlite file was the same in the backup folder as it was in the Zotero data directory.

    But you'd have to use a real backup utility that offered data verification if you wanted to be sure.
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