Lost all inputs for 10 days

I have updated specific notes and added some documents to Zotero (which I use almost daily) that have gone missing -- that is, the updates have gone missing. According to the index of Everything, there was no activity for a period of 11 days, which means that everything I input during that period is missing. I checked in the trash, I looked to see if I misfiled something -- but the date modified indicates that there were no modifications during that period of time. What could have happened? Is there any way I can can retrieve those modified notes?
Also I checked on my Web library and it was not synced for at least 6 months -- possibly because the syncing process was not set properly on the local computer.

Comments about lost modifications (updates to notes) would be appreciated, thank you.
  • First, make a backup of all the zotero.sqlite* files in your Zotero data directory.

    Is your Zotero data directory in the default location on the local disk, or is it in a custom location (e.g., a cloud storage folder)?

    What are the names, sizes, and modification dates for all zotero.sqlite* files in your data directory?
  • @jws597: Also, if you look in the 'storage' subfolder, do you see subfolders from the last 10 days, or is there a gap?
  • Thank you for your response.
    1. My Zotero data directory is in a cloud storage folder to allow me to access it from different computers.
    2. There are 32 zotero.sqlite (name of computer's conflicted copy [date].bak ranging in dates from 9/5/2018 to 7/4/2020, average size about 150,000 KB. There are about the same number of zotero.sqlite files with similar dates and sizes. Do you need the exact dates and sizes? Can I send a screenshot?
    3. Looking in the 'storage' subfolder, there are 9 subfolders from 9/1 to 9/11.
    Thank you
  • edited 7 days ago
    Your data directory should absolutely not be in a cloud storage folder, and that's how you lost your data. The way to access Zotero data on multiple computers is to use Zotero syncing. Zotero warns on startup when your data directory is stored in any cloud storage location it recognizes. Did you ignore that warning, or is your cloud storage folder in an unusual location (i.e., not a path mentioning "Dropbox", "Google Drive", or similar)?

    You should move it out of there immediately, and you'll need to experiment to find a zotero.sqlite file that both contains the data you're looking for and isn't corrupted. You can check database integrity for the active database from the Advanced → Files and Folders pane of the Zotero preferences.
  • I'm afraid everything I'm doing is making things worse. I tried to move the data directory to a local file but Zotero won't open it. I am really afraid of losing all of my files in attempt to salvage a few important ones. I tried to do a database integrity check but nothing happens. I tried to open a new Zotero and import but it gives an error message saying the sqlite date can't be imported.
    Is there any way I can open two instances of Zotero so that I can open different sqlite databases one by one and try to find my missing notes? On different computers perhaps? Or -- should I assume this is a lost cause? It never occurred to me that updates I put into stand-alone notes could ever be lost. This is what's most critical -- and looking into about two dozen notes I am realizing many of the updates I made in the last two months are gone. The notes themselves are there but the text I wrote into them are gone. The date on the notes are updated but not the content.
    I would appreciate instructions to move the Zotero database as copying the files onto a local folder does not seem to work. I would also appreciate any comment about how, if at all, lost note content could be retrieved. Thank you.
  • And I would appreciate instructions on how to open an earlier version of database as I can't seem to do that either, thanks.
  • I tried to do a database integrity check but nothing happens.
    An integrity check can take a while for a large file. But you shouldn't be worrying about that until you've found a database that actually contains your missing data.
    I tried to open a new Zotero and import but it gives an error message saying the sqlite date can't be imported.
    You can't import an .sqlite database. Nothing says to do that.

    Zotero simply opens the file named zotero.sqlite in the current Zotero data directory. That's it. The way you try different ones is by swapping in different versions of the file with that name while Zotero is closed and then starting Zotero.
    It never occurred to me that updates I put into stand-alone notes could ever be lost.
    To be absolutely clear, Zotero did not lose them. You corrupted your database by putting it in a cloud storage folder, which will corrupt any database from any program. We caution against doing so in countless places, and Zotero itself warns about it for any known cloud-storage folder name. (You didn't answer the question of whether you saw that warning and, if not, what the folder name was.)
  • Thanks so much for the assistance and suggestions. Really appreciated. As to what I knew or didn't know about cloud storage, I'll wait to reveal to my priest when I go to Confession. :) Thanks again, jws597
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