Recover accidentally deleted zotero folder from library on zotero browser

I accidentally deleted all my zotero articles from my local drive.
When I log into zotero on browswer, I can still see all my articles. How can I restore this content to my local zotero app.
I am worried about accidentally syncing my empty local drive to my online browser and wiping my last remaining copy of articles...
  • You can disconnect your computer from the internet before starting Zotero to prevent it from syncing, and then temporarily disable auto-sync from the Sync pane of the preferences. (Don't forget to re-enable auto-sync once this is resolved.)

    If you just deleted a collection but didn't move the items to the trash (such that they still appear in the library root), you should be able to restore it from the last automatic backup.

    If you for some reason actually deleted all your items and emptied the trash, you could move your local Zotero data directory out of the way and sync to pull down your online library, but note that you're at your file sync quota, so some files wouldn't have been previously uploaded and wouldn't be available.
  • Thank you it worked!!
  • This is really TOO complicated. An "undo" button would be really useful.
  • I have the same issue as the original poster, followed the directions to stop auto-syncing and want to restore my local library which is now empty with my online library that is amazingly intact.

    When you say "move your local Zotero data directory out of the way" what do you mean exactly? Do you mean take the Zotero folder out of the default directory location on my Mac? (Like put it on the desktop?) And then choose sync on the local app? Do I then delete that (I assume a new folder with all the files is uploaded from the online server)? Like the original poster, I am worried that my empty library will overwrite all my files that were preserved on the online Zotero and I'll have two empty libraries! Sorry if this is so basic but that's where I'm at! Thank you!
  • @ewengler818:
    When you say "move your local Zotero data directory out of the way" what do you mean exactly? Do you mean take the Zotero folder out of the default directory location on my Mac? (Like put it on the desktop?)
    Yes, though you can actually just move the zotero.sqlite file out of the folder (with Zotero closed), leaving everything else intact.
    And then choose sync on the local app?
    Yes.
    Do I then delete that (I assume a new folder with all the files is uploaded from the online server)?
    Keep the copy until you're sure you have all your data, but yes.
    I am worried that my empty library will overwrite all my files that were preserved on the online Zotero
    It won't.

    But note that you, too, are at your file sync quota online, so all your files aren't online and you won't be able to restore them all unless you have another backup of your Zotero data directory.
  • Thank you for your quick help. I didn't realize I was at my quota and not sure what I might not have online.

    Before I do anything, I do have a backup of the Zotero.sqlite.bak file that is dated yesterday afternoon in my Zotero data folder. I first tried to use it this morning when I deleted just one folder to restore it (and I assumed the whole library)--turned off auto sync first and followed the directions to rename the current sqlite file as sqlite.old and take the "bak" off the other file. Restarted Zotero and expected to see what had been backed up yesterday but there was nothing in my local library. I quickly quit the local app and went to online and saw that there were files there. I'm not sure if I did something wrong--I thought upon restarting Zotero I'd see the library that had been backed up yesterday. Or did I need to do something besides just restarting Zotero with the bak-renamed as Zotero.squlite?
  • edited 14 days ago
    Or did I need to do something besides just restarting Zotero with the bak-renamed as Zotero.squlite?
    It needs to be "zotero.sqlite" exactly, but otherwise yes. But it depends when exactly the backup was from and what was in it. If your data is fine online, there's no reason not to just sync to pull down the data.

    If all you did was delete a collection, then you likely didn't even delete the items and they would still be in your library root, and your attached files would also all exist. So in that case you can certainly just delete zotero.sqlite and sync if the collection still exists online.
  • Yes, I deleted a collection only but it does not still exist online. That's fine because the files do exist online in the library root.

    So, all I need to do is delete the zotero.sqlite file in my local Zotero directory, restart the local Zotero app, and then sync?

    Thank you and thank you for your patience.
  • edited 14 days ago
    Yes. But you can first try all the .bak files to try to find an intact copy of the collection. If you find one, there's a specific step in the instructions for preserving a copy.

    An upcoming version of Zotero will allow you to restore accidentally deleted collections from the trash.
  • edited 14 days ago
    OK
  • I did this: "In your data directory, rename zotero.sqlite to zotero.sqlite.old, rename one of the original .bak files (based on the timestamp) to zotero.sqlite, and restart Zotero. You should now see the backed-up version of your library."

    But I do not see the backed-up version when I restart Zotero. I get "Welcome to Zotero" as if it was brand new, no files in the library.
  • Thanks for your help. I gave up on restoring from the back up and just restored the local library from the online.
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