Connection to syncing wihtout losing locale library

Hi everyone,
This might me a silly question but after looking at the documentation I did not find any way to connect to my new zotero account on my standalone zotero version without losing my local library. I just tried connecting and since auto-sync is turned on, everything was lost...
I do have a backup but not easily accessible, and honestly I don't understand why, upon connection, we are not offered the possibility to either "merge the online and locale library", "delete the locale and keep the online" or "keep the locale and delete the online library"... Because, as it stands, at no point was I warned that conencting to a new account would just delete everything...
If you guys have a solution, I'd gladly appreciate it.
Thanks in advance,
AJ
  • edited 8 days ago
    This is some sort of misunderstanding. Zotero never deletes your data on its own. If data disappeared when you synced, either 1) the library was already synced with the same account and you (or someone else) deleted the data somewhere previously, in which case Zotero dutifully pulled down those deletions, or 2) you previously synced your local library with a different Zotero account, and when you went to link a new account, Zotero warned you that it would delete all local data from the previous account and you checked the "Remove existing data" box to allow it to do so.
  • Indeed there are some things I may not understand correctly.

    First, I thought I wasn't connected with my previous account because there was no syncing going on, and I already had some references in my remote library. When after connecting to this account I saw that all my previous references were gone and replaced by the ones I had online, I disconnected this account and restored the zotero library that I had luckily backed up. So when Zotero told me that it would "remove existing data", I thought it would remove linked to this account, not all my data that was not linked to any account whatsoever.

    And even after failing _twice_ I still don't know how I should proceed for the next time I'll try. Is the only way to sync your library up to 1/ save it, 2/ connect to your account which will delete everything and 3/ put your library back in Zotero and then sync it? I am earnestly asking, I am not being sarcastic here.

    Also I am wondering why Zotero would by default delete all your locale data instead of syncing your locale data up to the cloud when connecting to a new account with literally 0 reference in it.

    In addition, regardless of my mistakes, I do believe that having a clearer warning that you WILL LOSE ALL your data when syncing for the first time to a new account would make the user experience smoother. As a rule of thumb, I don't think any software should delete user data permanently so easily, and adding the kind of pop up I mentioned in my OP would make sure this does not happen so often as is evidenced by the amount of messages like mine on the forums.

    I have mourned my library since unfortunately even my back up failed, but I hope that this discussion can make the life easier for future users.
  • edited 8 days ago
    No, again, Zotero would only delete local data for a library that you had been syncing previously with another account. It will never just delete a local library that has never been synced. Obviously Zotero isn't designed such that setting up syncing for the first time deletes all your local data.

    It warns you explicitly before it does this:
    This Zotero database was last synced with a different account (‘[old username]’) from the current one (‘[new username]’). If you continue, data associated with the ‘[old username]’ account will be removed from this computer.
    And you have to check the "Remove existing data" checkbox before you can proceed. There's no other way to get past the dialog.

    If you already had data in a local library that you had been syncing, and it somehow became unlinked, all you would need to do to sync would be to set up syncing for that old account. If you try to set up a new, different account, Zotero needs to delete the local data for the old account — with your explicit permission, using the above dialog — before it can proceed, since otherwise it would mix together data from different accounts.

    The only way you would lose data through this is if the old library was partially but not fully synced with the online library (e.g., if you previously disabled auto-sync), in which case you shouldn't agree to delete the local data. If it was fully synced, all you're doing is deleting the local copy, and you can restore it to this computer simply by switching back to the old account, which will cause Zotero to download all the data from that account.
  • edited 8 days ago
    " It will never just delete a local library that has never been synced. Obviously Zotero isn't designed such that setting up syncing for the first time deletes all your local data."
    Well it just did... Some data in my library were synced, but definitely not all of it, and most certainly not the data added to the library after the last sync. Whatever the warning, Zotero did delete data that was NOT synced up, all that after a very vague warning. Indeed I checked "Remove existing data" linked to the old account. But that check box absolutely does not make clear that it will delete my locale files. How should I understand that the files in my library are linked to the account I'm connected to when I can do the same thing without being connected? Especially since my references were never synced up using this account...

    And, indeed I did not completely sync the library on that old account because when I tried to do so it started deleting my locale library and replacing for the online one (is there a technical limitation making Zotero unable to merge libraries instead of deleting one of them?). So I just stopped it right there and left it at that because I did not need to have my library online at the time, and honestly that was frightening enough that I did not want to try again. Maybe I should have started the syncing again (but doing so, I would have lost the references that I already had on that account), but I didn't. And one click after that I lost everything, I may be the idiot here, but this process could be made more idiotproof and I'm sure I'm not the only idiot around.

    Once again, I don't know if you are working for Zotero or not, but if you do my only point is to raise this issue so that it doesn't have to happen again. I like Zotero and I'm only spending so much energy and time on this because it's a real dealbreaker.
  • edited 8 days ago
    "It will never just delete a local library that has never been synced. Obviously Zotero isn't designed such that setting up syncing for the first time deletes all your local data."

    Well it just did... Some data in my library were synced, but definitely not all of it, and most certainly not the data added to the library after the last sync.
    No, it didn't. Read what I wrote — I said it will never delete a local library that has never been synced. I didn't say it won't delete data that has never been synced. In fact, I said that the only way you'd lose data here is if you had synced some but not all of your old data. But Zotero auto-syncs by default, so the only way for that to happen is for you to disable or discontinue syncing in the old account and then for some reason set up syncing with a new account and tell it to delete your local data for the old account.
    Indeed I checked "Remove existing data" linked to the old account. But that check box absolutely does not make clear that it will delete my locale files.
    It literally says that. The dialog tells you explicitly that it's going to delete the local data from the old account: "If you continue, data associated with the ‘[old username]’ account will be removed from this computer."

    I really am sorry this happened to you, but you have to acknowledge that the dialog tells you exactly what's going to happen. People click through dialogs without fully reading them all the time, which is why we added the extra "Remove existing data" checkbox as an extra precaution, but there's only so much we can do here. We have to let people switch accounts on their own computers.
    How should I understand that the files in my library are linked to the account I'm connected to when I can do the same thing without being connected? Especially since my references were never synced up using this account...
    I'm not sure what you mean by this. The dialog you clicked through told you the old username, and it told you it was going to delete the local data for that account.
    Indeed I did not completely sync the library on that old account because when I tried to do so it started deleting my locale library and replacing for the online one
    No, syncing doesn't work that way. As I said before, the only way for items to be deleted during a sync (not via switching accounts) is if you deleted those items previously/elsewhere. So it wasn't "replacing" anything — it was simply syncing deletions from the online library, as it needs to do to keep a library in sync. If you delete an item in one place, that item obviously needs to be deleted everywhere else.

    If you accidentally deleted items before and then wanted to restore from a backup and overwrite the online library, you can do that using "Replace Online Library" from the Sync → Reset pane of the Zotero preferences.

    In any case, it's not even clear to me that you lost any data here. That should be pretty rare, for the reasons I mentioned. You should either have the data online in your old account (though it sounds like you may have deleted that for some reason) or you should have the data in a backup (which you can use to replace the online library in the same account).
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