Where data files are stored


My team at work recently started using Zotero and have transferred all of our articles + citations over to Zotero. Previously we have stored all article PDFs on our local office server. When transferring to Zotero, we uploaded attachments from our local server. I just wanted to confirm that once files are uploaded to the Zotero server, they are stored entirely on the server and don't depend on the file being in the place it was originally uploaded from.

The reason I ask is, file attachments seem to open fine from Zotero online version, but when I try to open any attachment from Zotero Standalone on one particular computer, I get the error "The attached file could not be found. It may have been moved or deleted outside Zotero." And when I click "Locate" it sends me to what looks like a local file directory address: C:\Users\intern\AppData\Roaming\Zotero\Zotero\Profiles\qjipczyr.default\zotero\storage

Why might I be getting this error message from one computer (but not others), and to what extent does Zotero storage rely on any non-cloud storage? Thanks for helping increase my understanding!
  • Zotero relies entirely on non-cloud storage. By default, Zotero keeps local copies of all files on all synced computers. If that's not desirable in your setup, it probably makes sense to set file sync to "as needed" in the Sync tab of the Zotero preferences, which will only download files requested (i.e. opened) by the respective user.
  • Thanks for your comment. If this is the case, what is the advantage of purchasing "Zotero storage" beyond the free 500 mb limit? And how am I able to access the attached file from Zotero online (which I am)?

    When I click on the attachment online, the web address is something like "https://files.zotero.net/691788205/Mundorf -.pdf" . I am having trouble understanding how all this works if file storage is truly local. What is the source that Zotero "syncs" or pulls files from? I just want to make sure it's not the original place that the file was uploaded from.
  • edited March 17, 2017
    The advantages of storage are
    a) that files sync across computers and are
    b) _also_ available, as you found, via the online interface

    So if you have two computers (A and B) synced to Zotero, the files are stored in three locations: on computer A, on computer B, and on the Zotero server. When using the Zotero software on computer A, Zotero will open the file from the local storage on computer A; on computer B, from computer B's local storage, etc.

    The files are stored in the storage folder in Zotero's data directory
    i.e. in the case of the machine referenced above

    Edit: if this helps to understand the logic, this is exactly how a synced Dropbox folder works.
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