Protecting the Beta testers against unwanted modifications

On the dev builds page, you write that a Windows zip installation won't affect the primary installation, which I understood as meaning "don't worry about anything, it will be a totally different installation, it won't overwrite your current zotero.exe and also it won't have access to your current Zotero settings, including your login info and the path to your local .sqlite (a bit like a sandbox)". But in fact, it does.

The beta I tested yesterday modified my .sqlite. When I reopened my current Zotero installation, I got a warning telling me that it couldn't read the .sqlite anymore (my .sqlite was no longer compatible with the current Zotero...).

It would have been a disaster if I did not make a backup of my .sqlite and disabled internet to prevent any sync with the online account.

The text below written on this page ( should be changed to be more explicit and to prevent such situations that could be dramatic:

On Windows, you may wish to use the ZIP version, which doesn't contain an installer, to avoid overwriting your primary installation. Note that the ZIP version does not register Zotero as a handler for various file types.

It would also be nice to explain how to have two separate Zotero installation (including 2 separate .sqlite).

  • edited March 9, 2021
    The operative phrase there is "doesn't contain an installer". That's all it's saying. Your "installation" is the installed application files, not your data. Installing a new version doesn't "overwrite" your data.

    The primary warning in that section still applies:
    beta versions occasionally update the database such that downgrading isn't possible without reverting to a backup copy of zotero.sqlite in the Zotero data directory or waiting for the next release version of Zotero
    I'll try to clarify the ZIP line, but in any case, this is hardly catastrophic — Zotero makes a backup copy of your database before upgrading, so you could've restored to that.

    You can use multiple profiles to keep data separate, but we don't generally recommend it. Many thousands of people use the betas, so they're generally pretty stable, and a regular backup is a much less complicated approach for most people than messing with separate profiles and separate data directories.
  • Thanks you for taking the time to write this detailed answer. Yes I read this warning but somehow I thought it didn't apply to the ZIP installation.
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