Best set up for very large pdf library new to Zotero - two computers with pdfs on OneDrive

I hope you will pardon a Zotero newby question. I have heard so many great things that I want to try it but my situation is a little complex and I want to make sure I set things up as optimally as possible. I have searched and found some incredibly helpful resources, but none address my situation directly so I thought I would see if others had helpful suggestions

My situation: I am a long time academic. I have not been using a reference manager (twice-burned by EndNote in the 90s) for some time but have accumulated over 2 GB of pdf files organized by folders/subfolders and am ready to try again. I work from my work PC and home laptop so store my docs on OneDrive (at university's behest - free unlimited, etc.).

To me it looks like I will need to install Zotero locally on both computers and set them up to sync. However, I will need to have each reference have a relative link to its respective pdf because I have too many files for the Zotero free server. Does this seem correct? Regarding adding all of the many references I already have as pdfs, I realize it would be best to find the online reference to it and attach the pdf I have as a child to that entry, but that would be many, many hours of work for so many pdfs and I don't have the time to do that. I know I can create categories in Zotero and drag the pdf files over. Although I have read that that is not the ideal method, I don't know of another way to do it.

Does this seem like the best way to go? Are there pitfalls I should be aware of? Is Zotero not a good fit for my situation? Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks.
  • It’s possible to use linked files with OneDrive, but it takes more setup and maintenance to get such a setup working. If it’s possible for you, I’d suggest paying to upgrade your Zotero storage for the easiest experience. You can also sync using any cloud service that supports WebDAV (OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box don’t). Here is a list of WebDAV providers that offer free storage:

    If you do want to use linked files with OneDrive, then you should first set the Linked Attachhments Base Directory setting ( on each computer to point to the folder in OneDrive where you have your Zotero files. Then add the PDFs to your library as links (hold down Ctrl/Cmd + Shift when you drag them into Zotero).

    For adding new items to your library in the future, use the Save to Zotero button in your browser. Set up the Zotfile plugin to automatically move new files to be stored in the Zotero folder in OneDrive.
  • Thank you, bweirnik! I appreciate the information. Very helpful.
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