Can I put my Zotero library on a USB drive

At 120GB and growing, my Zotero library is getting too big for the hard drive on my Mac. Is it possible to put the data directory on a USB drive and change the data directory folder address from the current default to the external USB drive?

If not, does this "Zotero: Making It Portable" link offer trustworthy advice for putting Firefox and the library on a USB drive?

https://guides.lib.uw.edu/c.php?g=99190&p=642191

Thanks for any advice.
  • No, that's extremely outdated, dating from when Zotero was a Firefox extension. Don't follow that. Generally speaking, you should only follow instructions from zotero.org.
    Is it possible to put the data directory on a USB drive and change the data directory folder address from the current default to the external USB drive?
    Yes. Mentioned here: https://www.zotero.org/support/kb/using_multiple_computers

    A couple things to note:

    1) That does somewhat increase the chances of database corruption, unless you're extremely careful to always close Zotero before unmounting the drive.

    2) It doesn't look like you're using syncing currently, but an alternative would be to use Zotero syncing (with a Zotero storage subscription), set it to download files only as needed, and then remove the PDFs from your local drive. So the files — which are likely taking up the vast majority of the space — would mostly just be stored online and downloaded when you opened them. (They won't be removed automatically, but it's easy to do so, and a future version of Zotero will help you manage how much local disk space attachments take up when using the "as needed" file-sync mode.)
  • You could use plugin Zotfile to put your library into external folder
    http://zotfile.com/
  • (To be clear, ZotFile doesn't put the "library" in the external folder. It makes it easier to use a linked-file workflow, as explained in the Alternative Syncing Solutions section linked from the page I linked to above.)
  • @Boston22
    If you buy an SSD: Make sure to buy a high quality drive from a reputable vendor. Some drives, especially cheap thumb drives, are not made for repeated writes. For this reason, I would not put the database on the drive, just the storage folder.

    There are also drives with counterfeit controllers that pretend to be of large capacity, but never store the data.

    Also, SSDs are not that great for long-term storage without power. If your files are important, you are better off with a backup on an HDD.
  • Thanks for all of your responses.

    I don't want to do the syncing because there are many times that I don't have internet access.

    I like the idea of putting the library (data directory) on an external drive. I am not a sophisticated Mac user and I'm not sure how to specify the address of a folder on an external drive.

    Suppose I've named my external drive External. If I then go to Zotero>Preferences>Advanced>Files and Folders>Directory Location, what address would I type into the Custom box? Would it just be "External: Zotero"? And would I then just copy the data directory named Zotero to the drive?
  • You don't (and can't) type into that box. You just click "Choose…" and browse to the folder you want to use. Before doing so, close Zotero and copy the existing data directory to the external drive so that you can select it.
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