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    Is it possible to use dropbox instead of the webdav facilty in zotero 1.5b? If so, how exactly?
    • CommentAuthornoksagt
    • CommentTimeApr 8th 2009
    Not really.

    Some are using dropbox to mirror their zotero directory on multiple machines. This does not take advantage of the special facilities for syncing in 1.5 (and is hence more "fragile"). Some others have at least talked about mounting dropbox & serving it via a WebDAV server on their local machine.
    • CommentAuthormigugg
    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2009
    I use dropbox and it works perfectly. I sync the whole zotero folder (database + storage folder). I do not understand what noksagt means with it is more "fragile".
    • CommentAuthormigugg
    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2009
    technically, I just added the whole zotero folder to my dropbox folder and disabled syncing in zotero to avoid conflicts.
    • CommentAuthorKeter
    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2009
    I was just going to ask about Dropbox...can you tell me where to find the zotero files? I did a full disk search and can't identify them...
    • CommentAuthormigugg
    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2009
    I don't understand this. Usually they are in your firefox profile, unless you did not move it somewhere else. see here
    I have tried but have problems. When I add something in zotero on pc A, the file is then synchronized in the zotero folder in dropobox on pc B, but you don't see it as a zotero item in zotero library. Moreover, in the dropbox folder, the sqlite file is perpetually syncing.
    Many thanks for any advice.
    Post scriptum. Of course I have PC A turned off, and hours before turning on PC B
    • CommentAuthornoksagt
    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2009
    I do not understand what noksagt means with it is more "fragile".
    If you're syncing the database via dropbox, there is no conflict resolution. This is fine if you sync between the time you stop using Zotero on one machine and start to use it on a second. It is probably fine for most network-connected Zotero instances. It may not be fine if you do a lot of offline work (on a laptop, for example). Assuming turcaret25 remembers to sync before switching "PC A" off, it may be "good enough."

    the file is then synchronized in the zotero folder in dropobox on pc B, but you don't see it as a zotero item in zotero library.
    You must either set dropbox to sync to your zotero directory on PC B or must set Zotero on PC B to use what you presently mount as a dropbox folder to be your Zotero directory. I don't know if you are having more general issues with dropbox, which is not explicitly supported by Zotero.
    Unfortunately I am a technical naive and I don't fully understand noksagt's explanations. What I've done is creating a dropbox folder - with into the same zotero folder into - on both pc, linking the zotero library to this folder, and I've not enabled zotero syncing facilities.

    As I said, what you put into in one pc, via zotero, is shown in both dropbox folders, but not in the other zotero library in the other pc. Moreover dropbox seems not able to sync the sqlite file.

    However, I have one more question for noksagt. Since you don't seem to be very earnest regarding the possible marriage of dropbox with zotero, which other provider(s) of online storage would you recommend?
    • CommentAuthornoksagt
    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2009
    Unfortunately I am a technical naive and I don't fully understand noksagt's explanations.
    Feel free to ask for clarification. But, again: if you have questions about getting dropbox data from their servers to a particular directory on your machine, then that isn't a question that is zotero-specific & you should ask in the dropbox forums. It sounds like you can, at least, use dropbox to get data onto you local machine. One solution would be to go to the zotero preferences/advanced & to select this as your custom storage location. Then restart firefox.
    Moreover dropbox seems not able to sync the sqlite file.
    And, again: this is a significant limitation to using third-party syncing. Others do use drop box and other third-party tools to sync their sqlite file. But, if you are already using Zotero 1.5, why not use it to sync ONLY the storage directory? Use Zotero's server sync for the database.

    You don't say anything about specific error messages you're getting. Perhaps it isn't syncing because you have written to the database mid-sync? Or there are changes to sqlite on both machines that it can't reconcile? Or you have the file opened (e.g. by having firefox open)?

    Since you don't seem to be very earnest regarding the possible marriage of dropbox with zotero, which other provider(s) of online storage would you recommend?
    Any service that has WebDAV, so would use the officially-supported sync methods. I have my own WebDAV server & have no experience with others. Other people have suggested Apple's idrive/mobileme, JungleDisk Plus,, using a PHP script on your webhost, and others. I can't vouch for any of them, though. See:
    • CommentAuthorktkallio
    • CommentTimeApr 14th 2009
    You can use dropbox as WebDav service, albeit an unsecured one. The address is
    • CommentAuthornoksagt
    • CommentTimeApr 14th 2009
    Aren't & separate services?
    • CommentAuthorktkallio
    • CommentTimeApr 14th 2009 edited
    ohmygod, you're right, yes they are. Damn. I completely forgot that I got that account after the dropbox tryout! You can really tell somebody's been awake too many hours in a row, I guess. Sorry about the mess.

    Just to clarify to others, dropbox doesn't have webdav service, but the 2250 MB size is true. is only 1GB with webdav.
    • CommentAuthor4GPro
    • CommentTimeApr 16th 2009
    This boils down to a commercial issue:
    Zotero is a non-profit supported service that does not, as far as I know, intend to make Zotero a for-profit web service.
    Therefore, providing low server bandwidth/storage synchronization directly from Zotero is all that can be expected.
    However, Zotero should try to work with Dropbox, or similar cloud storage providers. A way to do that is to propose to them that
    1) Zotero has a significant number of current users and is a well developed program in its genre
    2) Providing this type of organized research/notation capability is precisely the type of capability that the online storage outfits can benefit from to differentiate themselves.
    3) Zotero could probably benefit by close collaboration to relinquish the need for your own sync servers or support only the database while the storage guys support the content.

    As the web moves more mobile users want to have seamless synchronization. So, it makes sense for Zotero to work out the commercial issue and stop pissing and moaning that it is someone else's responsibility via webdav or webwhatever.
    • CommentAuthorCB
    • CommentTimeApr 16th 2009
    4GPro: zotero already does work with commercially-available cloud storage, seamlessly so far in my experience.

    I don't understand the problem. Who's 'pissing and moaning' (to use your charming phrase), and what about?
    • CommentAuthor4GPro
    • CommentTimeApr 16th 2009
    No, it works with hosted WEBDAV which is not provided to the end user.

    If Zotero is to be used easily by non-techies and broader population, users should not have to have Webdav or any other server available to them. Webdav is not in the cloud... do you want to serve the world cloud with webdav? If not, then it is still an academic, individually hosted support application.
    • CommentAuthorCB
    • CommentTimeApr 17th 2009
    4GPro: using a webdav service is no more difficult than signing up for web-based email or Facebook, both heavily used by the "broader population".

    Frankly, a reference manager isn't going to be of much use to someone more thick than the average Facebook chatterer.
    • CommentAuthor4GPro
    • CommentTimeApr 17th 2009
    It is? OK, then how do I set up Gmail to provide webdav support for Zotero?
    What if I want to use Livemail or Hotmail, or Yahoo! mail, or anyotherwebmail I freaken wnat instead?

    If you show me how to do this on any popular web email without a special account, then I will have to agree with you. Otherwise, what you suggest is brain-dead acedemic puzzle-palace land speak.
    • CommentAuthor4GPro
    • CommentTimeApr 17th 2009
    The point is not use of email but that you suggest that this is just as easy as signing up for and using an email program. If it is, show us your majesty.

    Otherwise, for a service to be easily available it either has to interface to or include the server capability. OK, if it is just for academics then so be it. That approach limits who will use and in what job or academic situation.
    • CommentAuthorCB
    • CommentTimeApr 17th 2009
    4GPro: well, we just disagree then. I can't see that their natural target audience is in the slightest bit fazed by having to type 3 pieces of information into a dialogue. It's moot anyway as ultimately the zotero folks will decide their own market direction.
    • CommentAuthor4GPro
    • CommentTimeApr 17th 2009
    Then why did you answer?
    We just wasted anyone who reads this some time
    • CommentAuthorbdarcus
    • CommentTimeApr 17th 2009
    @4GPro: I can't speak for CB, but I'd guess the issue was in part your tone. This community is in general a really friendly, civil, place. Some of your comments in this thread ("your majesty"? are you serious?) are not.
    • CommentAuthorc0ldlimit
    • CommentTimeApr 17th 2009
    To put this thread back on topic, I successfully use dropbox+zotero across 3 machines. My dropbox folder contains both database and storage and I use the sync capabilities of 1.5b. The only thing you have to do is make sure you get into the habit of syncing upon opening a Zotero instance and after making changes.

    Basically despite dropbox's efforts to overwrite my local copy of the database, every time I sync, I ensure that database on the server is always the 'pristine' copy. This results in many conflicted copies of my zotero database that dropbox automaticallly creates, but every time I sync with the server I make sure that the local copy mirrors that of the server and not that of another machine.
    • CommentAuthor4GPro
    • CommentTimeApr 17th 2009
    Sorry for the irreverence.

    "We are all idiots but some of us are too stupid or egotistical to know it"

    I came to the thread thinking that Zotero is a very useful tool and that providing seamless cloud type capability is just one more relatively small step to make happen.

    I could see this expanded via Android, iPhone, and Symbian to the mobile devices but I would think that will require providing an alternative to or hosted webdav.

    I hope the good folks working on Zotero see the expanded universe of applications and users out there.
    • CommentAuthor4GPro
    • CommentTimeApr 17th 2009
    Thanks c0ldlimit, I'll try that.
    • CommentAuthorves
    • CommentTimeJul 17th 2009
    I successfully set up webDav on SwissDisc. They offer a secure webDav server with a very small free account (50 MB), and what I think are very expensive paid options. Since I'm only using it for my Zotero folder and I don't have a lot of disc room on my computer for PDFs, their free account is enough to get me started. When I run out of space I will probably switch to JungleDisc, which has a very low pay-for-what-you-use pricing system (but apparently no free accounts).

    I'm not particularly good at this kind of thing and had never heard of WebDav before, so I had to actually READ THE INSTRUCTIONS from both SwissDisc and Zotero several times and follow them carefully, but it really was easy.

    It's just not as slick and easy as having both file/attachment storage and the database storage in one place. But once it was set up I don't have to think about (until I run out of space).

    I'm experimenting with DropBox for other files, but not for Zotero.
    • CommentAuthorjoshalto
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2010
    I use Dropbox with Zotero 1.0.10. I just make sure to close Firefox when I'm done, then I go home, and open Firefox, and my changes appear. I don't know what this "sync" button is, but I imagine it makes it so I can click that instead of restarting Firefox if I forget to close it?

    What would be nice if once Dropbox gets their API done, modify Zotero so that each time a change is made, it first queries Dropbox to see if there is a more recent version of the sqlite file, and if so, updates to that version before performing the change, then works on that updated version.

    Maybe just make an extension that loads and stores to a Dropbox-compatible sqlite file, since then you can modify the behavior on add/update/delete. Otherwise I think it has to be a core client modification.
    • CommentAuthorspmcg
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2010
    Please excuse me if I'm asking this in the wrong place or if I'm asking a dumb question. I looked in the documentation but am still not sure what settings I have wrong.

    I was using Dropbox to synchronize Zotero and tried to be careful to turn off Firefox on one before opening the other. I couldn't seem to get my MobileMe idisk to synchronize properly, and so I've now signed up for Zotero storage.

    However, I'm still not sure whether I still need the old Dropbox Zotero synchronization. Sorry. I still have the data directory folder in preferences set to Zotero and am still getting conflicted files. Is there a way to put all my attachments in Zotero storage?

    Again, I'm pretty sure I'm missing something basic, but I can't see how to fix it. Thanks for any help. If it's RTFM please point me to exactly where.
    • CommentAuthoradamsmith
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2010
    Yes, you can pull up all your attachments in Zotero Storage, provided you have enough space.

    SInce this has nothing to do with dropbox, please first find out what exactly isn't working for you - if you get specific error messages search for them on the forum to see if this has already been addressed somewhere, if not start a new thread with a precise description of your set-up, what you've done so far, and what type of problems you're experiencing.
    • CommentAuthorspmcg
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2010

    Thanks for the quick reply. I have 5 GB of space online, which is enough for my paltry references as they now stand. I will take your advice go through the forums and documentation again, but I'm (obviously) still confused regarding what goes where.

    For example, Zotero lets you add a link to a file or upload the file itself (it seems), but then when I look at my library online, the linked file seems to be there. Has the file marked just as a link also been uploaded? Should I convert what formerly were links to files in a folder on Dropbox to uploads of the files themselves?

    So my question is, is there a definitive description of how to set up Zotero to sync across multiple machines using Zotero Storage so that I won't get conflicts (that is, multiple copies of the files)? I guess I need to go back and reread all the documentation, I guess, but I'm not sure it has kept up with the progress in adding features such as Zotero Storage and how to convert to it.
    • CommentAuthorspmcg
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2010
    OK, I'm slow, but I think I figured it out. Could someone please let me know if I'm wrong. I will remove Dropbox from the equation altogether and sync to each of my computers directly. I'm thinking that I will backup my Zotero folder just in case and then reinstall Zotero so everything goes into the default folders, then sync to If I do this on each computer, then each computer will sync to directly, is that right?

    Sorry for such a basic question, but it was hard keeping track of what goes where. Thanks for your patience, if any.
    • CommentAuthormigugg
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2010
    1. whenever you something like this and you are not exactly sure what you do: backup the whole zotero folder at least once, if not twice.
    2. there is a difference betwen linked and stored files. Linked Files are not synced by zotero. They are also not synced by dropbox, unless you have dropbox sync the folder where they are in.
    3. if you want to have a tidy solution, i.e. everything synced by zotero, you need to store all the files within the zotero folder.
    4. set everything properly up on one computer while the other is turned off. Then sync to zotero. Then turn the other on, go to settings/sync and choose the reset tab and choose "restore from server".
    thats it.
    If you don't want to have to move things around, this should be easily accomplished by using Syncless ( to do a constant, seamless sync between your Zotero folder and an arbitrarily designated folder in the Dropbox. I do this with a number of programs, like KeePass, AutoHotKey, Launchy and others.

    Example: on computer A you have your Zotero folder sync with the My Dropbox\Zotero folder. On computer B, you do exactly the same thing. You just have to make sure Dropbox and Syncless are running before you open Firefox to ensure you have the latest version of your files. This shouldn't be an issue, as both normally run at startup.

    You can also set Syncless to sync another backup copy somewhere else on your harddrive, as well as to Dropbox. That should, theoretically, create a Zotero library and database with four or five redundant copies. Syncless also allows you to keep up to 10 archived copies of past versions of files, in case something gets corrupted or damaged any other way.
    • CommentAuthoradamsmith
    • CommentTimeJun 18th 2010
    before you use any Dropbox based solution, search the forum for Dropbox and read a bunch of the threads on corrupted databases due to Dropbox.
    If you still feel you want to use it with Zotero, go ahead - but don't say you haven't been warned.
    Short version: having Firefox open at the same on two computers synced by Dropbox may corrupt your Zotero database.
    • CommentAuthornoksagt
    • CommentTimeJun 18th 2010 edited
    Dropbox (and some other sync tools) seem to mostly be used because they provide a large amount of somewhat-easy-to-obtain storage for free & can thus be used for file syncing (instead of the more robust and supported WebDAV and Zotero storage).

    One reason that people have tried to use these tools to also sync 'zotero.sqlite' is that some of these sync tools make it difficult to map a specific subdirectory for syncing & so they just make their zotero data directory their dropbox folder.

    One of these lightweight sync tools might be a good way to sync only the 'storage' folder that is beneath your zotero data directory to a place that dropbox (or another tool) can work with it. Again, this is not as elegant as using one of the two supported file sync methods; it is just a way of removing the risk of database corruption that is one of the largest downsides of syncing with one of these limited third-party tools.
    • CommentAuthornbux
    • CommentTimeJun 18th 2010
    I agree with noksagt.
    I don't see why not to use WebDAV:
    It is easy to find free WebDAV-services with Google, and they offer the same amount of free space (2 GB) as Dropbox and are as easy to set up
    (I use - in the Zotero Sync preferences, I enter, my username+pw, and everything works fine between the connected zoteros.)
    In this way I save the space on my Dropbox for other things..

    The only thing I don't understand is why on the WebDAV-server there are no PDF files, but only ZIPs and some with the extension ".prop" - if they were in normal PDF format, I could even access them via a browser without Zotero. But this belongs in another thread..
    • CommentAuthornoksagt
    • CommentTimeJun 18th 2010
    • CommentAuthorZix
    • CommentTimeJun 23rd 2010
    A lot of cloud services like, Dropbox and JungleDisk, use Amazon S3 storage on the backend. In fact, Zotero itself also uses Amazon S3. So what's being debated in most cases is the frontend to S3, which differ in terms of easy of use, features, and cost.

    I have been using JungleDisk to sync attachments and Zotero to sync everything else and haven't had any problems.
    • CommentAuthoradamsmith
    • CommentTimeJun 23rd 2010
    agreed - if you want a free or cheap solution, try JungleDisk or any other free or cheap WebDAV - no one at Zotero is discouraging that (in fact questions about this are usually answered, so there's at least partial support) and it gives you the same features as Zotero Storage with the exception of file sharing in groups.
    I'm just warning against Dropbox (which might offer, but by default isn't, a WebDAV) specifically for the reasons stated above.
    • CommentAuthorZix
    • CommentTimeJun 23rd 2010
    Agreed. Different solutions will work for different people.

    I started using JungleDisk before Zotero offered attachment syncing. My main reason for using JD is that the storage was fairly cheap and scalable, I could use it for other types of file storage/sync/backup, supported all major platforms, and supported encryption of files in the cloud not just during transfer. JD has a lot of features but it is probably not as easy to configure and use as some other services.
    • CommentAuthortbone
    • CommentTimeOct 13th 2010
    I was trying to use Zotero with Dropbox, but got annoyed with the conflicted copies of the sqlite file. I was always checking the date and size on that file and trying to delete conflicts and keep the right one. I seemed to get conflicts even when the other computer was off (or maybe it was sleep).

    Anyway, I took the advice above (from user nbux) and got free WebDAV from

    Off Topic - I tried Mendeley as well, and it was very good, but I liked Zotero's ability to generate items from PDFs a little better. Though [very] occasionally some are wrong - have to watch out for that.
    • CommentAuthorsozusagen
    • CommentTimeFeb 7th 2011 edited
    Until now I've been happy with the following solution.

    I didn't move my Zotero folder from its original location. Instead, I put the complete profile folder (but the cache) into my Dropbox. Just search "manage firefox profile" to do so.

    If you want to protect your data on one computer (eg at your workplace) just do as I did: create a basic 2 Gb truecrypt file, use always the same letter and put your Dropbox folder in it.
    • CommentAuthoradamsmith
    • CommentTimeFeb 7th 2011
    sozusagen's method is fine for back-up, but it is really, really not recommended for syncing between multiple computers. You're running serious risk of corrupting your database and you might not be able to get it back.
    • CommentAuthorgcorthey
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2011
    Hi, is great but only if you don't have more than 1000 files. allows you only 1000 files per folder and zotero doesn't split the files into many folders, unfortunatelly...
    This is the answer I got from MyDrive support:
    In the case of Zotero, we have already had occasion to deal with the problem:

    - We have already had problems with MyDrive with the Zotero directory synchronization with Webdav
    - We do not support the unlimited amount of files

    We also contacted Zotero to ask to move files in multiple folders,
    but unfortunately we received a negative response ;-(

    What I did now is to use Dropbox to sync only the "storage" folder, and sync the database with zotero. I created a folder in my Dropbox directory and then I created a link to that folder called "storage" and I replaced the original "storage" folder in the zotero directory by this link. In this way, only the storage folder is sync by Dropbox and the database is sync by zotero, avoiding the conflicts that may appear if you sync the whole zotero directory with Dropbox, for example if the zotero in one pc is updated and not the one in another pc.
    As far as I understand this should work only in linux since, opposite to windows, linux doesn't differentiate a directory from a link.

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