Changing synchronization account

edited August 22, 2017

I need to change my zotero account, in order to synchronize my library with a new one. Note that I do not want to delete this library, I just want to use a other synchronization account.

I've created the new account (but not deleted the old one yet), and I've changed the user name in the Sync pane of the Preferences. Then, I've clicked on the button "Set the synchronization" (on something like that, mine is in French). This operation should be enough for my goal, shouldn't be ?

Here, I get this worrying warning message : "This Zotero library database was last synced with a different account ('username_old') from the current one ('username_new'). If you continue, data associated with the 'username_old' account will be removed from this computer".

I find it ambiguous. What does it exactly mean ?
1- *just* the synchronization data of 'username_old' will removed (but not my library). In this case, there is no danger.
2- *all* the data of 'username_old' will be removed (synchronization data AND my library). In this case, I will lost all my data.

Can I continue safely ? Have I misunderstood something ?

Thank you in advance to enlighten me.
  • With the changes to the way syncing works in Zotero 5.0, it's no longer possible to keep the local library when changing user accounts for syncing.

    At the moment, the best method for changing your account while keeping your local library is to export the library as Zotero RDF, change the account, then re-import the library to the new account.

    See details here:
  • edited August 20, 2017
    Thanks for your answer.

    So, if I well understand you : the meaning of this ambiguous warning is the option number 2, isn't it ?

    It seems a more uncertain operation than I imagined. Humm... maybe I won't change my account finally.
  • I guess the question is why you would want to change your account?
  • edited August 21, 2017
    Only because I don't want this username associated with my research work anymore. It was an account created some years ago for tests, when I was discovering Zotero. I've never taken the time to change it. But now Zotero offers a 'My publications' page, which will be visited by colleagues, students, employers... In brief, I would like to clean.

    But it's an anecdotal reason. At least it's not a sufficient reason to exporting/re-importing my database and risking to loose something.

    For sure, it would be a lot easier if Zotero permitted us to change our username... :-)
  • For sure, it would be a lot easier if Zotero permitted us to change our username...
    Yes, you're right. It'll take a little work to get there, but we're going to start allowing this. Given the technical problems with merging data across accounts, supporting username changes makes sense.
  • Is there any way that an option to import existing local items to the new account when switching sync accounts could be added? Or is that technically infeasible?
  • @bwiernik: I'm not sure I understand your question — are you asking about something other than merging data between accounts? That's what's no longer possible in 5.0 because of the technical problems with it.
  • @dstillman I was wondering whether some sort of process might be implemented to mimic the effect of merging data between accounts—something like background exporting a local library then adding the items to the new account when switching sync accounts.
  • I think we should just allow username changes. Seems like that should take care of the vast majority of cases where people want to do this and using an intermediate group library would be sufficient for the rest.
  • edited August 22, 2017
    @dstillman : Great ! It's a good news ! :-)
  • I recently found out the hard way what Zotero does when switching from one account to another. I now have to re-import about 5000 documents from Mendeley, and web snapshots that I only had in Zotero have been lost - fortunately there were not too many, and all were recent.

    In my case, the reason I wanted to switch accounts was in order to deliver training. I wanted to use a clean account for demonstration purposes, which also puts me in the position of someone just starting with the package. I understand that next time I do this, I should export my library (including attachments) to a backup location, so it can be re-imported again when I switch back.

    I think the warning message could be clearer, it should really spell out what the consequences will be: all attachments will be deleted and if these are not backed up in the cloud or somewhere else it will not be possible to recover them. To people such as myself who are more familiar with Mendeley than with Zotero, it is hard to believe that unlinking an account would result in all associated files being erased.
  • edited November 7, 2017
    The way to work with multiple accounts and to have empty teaching/presentation accounts are profiles: not export/import (which isn't lossless and, e.g., breaks existing documents and duplicates synced items).

    Unlinking alone does not actually delete your local data unless you specifically check the box to delete said data. Using a different account does, and that says explicitly it will overwrite your local data -- not quite sure how to be clearer about that?
  • edited November 7, 2017
    @adamsmith thanks for pointing out the profiles feature, that sounds useful and I will try it out. I'll be more careful if I ever need to switch accounts in future, and I will definitely try to avoid it.
  • But why does Zotero delete local data when you change your account even when the old account has been unlinked?? It makes absolutely no sense to me. Why is the 'unlinked situation' different from 'never linked situation'?
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