Merging libraries

I have several independent libraries on different computers with > 1k entries each. I would like to merge these libraries into one library.

The (to me) obvious solution would have been to open each library, export as RDF with "Export Notes" and "Export Files" checked, then import the files.

Unfortunately, this way is not recommended
"Exporting and importing your library (for instance via Zotero RDF) is not a recommended option. None of the available export formats allow for a complete transfer of your library data. "

I've tried to export a library, the original storage folder had 373MB in 8193 files, the exported folder has 366MB in 7946 files, so it looks as if something is going missing.

What are the downsides of using the RDF export and re-import? What information will be lost?

I would prefer not to set up a sync account and deal with the file synchronization issues (as described here
  • Syncing all of the libraries with the same account is exactly what you want to do. I'm not sure what issues exactly you're referring to. If you have more than 300MB of PDFs and do not want to pay for Zotero online storage, then you can either use a WebDAV server to sync them or transfer the attachments manually (we can guide you with that). In either case, all the metadata should sync without issues between all of your computers.
  • you really should do this by syncing, that's precisely what that is (among some other things) for.

    Downsides of RDF is that there's some minor data loss (it's not much, but e.g. item relations get lost and there's one or two fields in less-used item types that may not make it) and it can wreak havoc on any documents you've authored with items you use import/export for.
  • Thanks aurimas and adamsmith, I'll do the syncing. Can you point me towards how to transfer the attachments manually?
  • This is helpful - but I have a slightly different problem. I have an old zotero file that was never incorporated to my current zotero library. How can I import that file into my current zotero library? Thanks for any suggestions you might have.
  • @ztumin

    You have the entire zotero folder with the sqlite database file and the storage folder?

    Or do you have an rdf file and an export folder?

    In principle, you could import the latter directly to your zotero installation.

    To load a complete Zotero folder, you can go to preferences and change the location of the folder. Then you are working with your old library, which you then sync. After switching back to your current library, you then sync the files into your current library.

    In order not to mess with your main installation, you can download FirefoxPortable, install Zotero, and then use the portable FF to load your new files.

    If you copy the file FirefoxPortable.ini to the same folder as the FF portable .exe and set AllowMultipleInstances=true, you can run both your standard installation and the portable one at the same time.

    This is how far I got. The synchronization works really well and flawlessly on my old folder, because there were not many notes.

    If you don't want to use the zotero file storage or WebDAV (I can't, because I have many GB of files), then you have to somehow merge the folders manually. aurimas hinted at that, but I haven't found a way to do it.

    Another problem that I ran into is that the sync has some problem with notes that are too large.

    For several book entries I've added screenshots, and none of those can by sync'ed. For me it is ok, because I don't have images in the notes of the old libraries, but you might run into the problem.
  • Wow, dan. Thanks for this. Let me study and try. Back to you soon. Truly appreciated.
  • oh sorry, I had meant to reply to this dan -- it's actually not very hard -- you just copy the content of the "storage" folder (in the Zotero data directory) of the one library into that of the other one. Since all files are in folders with unique folder names, there won't be any conflicts _and_ your merged libraries will automatically "find" their attachments.
  • Worked perfectly without any problems. Now I have a much better understanding how the synchronization works. Thank you!
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