Recover missing notes?

Opened up Zotero today, intending to finally look at and write from the notes I'd typed in several weeks ago on an edited collection ... and discovered that all of the notes on the individual chapters in that book have disappeared. Is there any way to recover them? I am moderately certain that they were synced at least once.

My theory about how they disappeared: I'm using two different Linux distributions on the same laptop: one expects the hardware clock to be set to local time, and one expects the clock to be set in UTC. The upshot is that one distro thinks I am in UTC, whereas another thinks I am in the Pacific time zone. (It is similar to this problem, and is in theory possible to solve, but I haven't yet gotten around to investigating and solving the issue, as I've just reinstalled one of the distros and it hasn't been my top priority over the last week.) My best guess is that I edited the notes under the distro that thinks I'm in one time zone, rebooted into the other distro several hours later, and synced, making it look to the computer like the "later" copy, that on the server, didn't have any notes on those documents, i.e., that they'd been removed, and that Zotero happily deleted them from the local drive to make the local copy (apprently) in sync to that "later" copy on the server.

The notes are not in the trash, and do not seem to appear in any collections that any of the chapters were in. On the other hand, the problem is apparently quite limited in scope: quickly looking through other items in my library shows that notes that I expect to be there are there (though I have not come anywhere near being comprehensive on this).

Is there any way to recover these notes? Any suggestions are appreciated.

  • I don't think it should be possible to overwrite edits with a wrong system clock (Zotero would still see that the edited version has a different timestamp than the last synced version and would trigger a sync conflict -- it doesn't just overwrite older versions on sync) but be that as it may:

    The only places I can think to look is
    1. All three copies of your library (local1, server, local2)
    2. Automatic back-ups:
    3. Your own system back-ups (see the same page on restoring from a back-up).

    I'd do 2 and 3 in a new firefox/zotero profile with sync disabled, just to be safe.
  • Alas, no dice: it looks like it's been a while since the notes disappeared, and they changes have propagated to all copies. Sigh. But, in the end, though it means re-doing work, they're just notes, and notes can be reconstructed.

    Adam, thank you for always being so quick and helpful. I genuinely appreciate it.
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