Help Recovering My Zotero Library/Data

edited 14 days ago
I want to start by saying that while not super tech savy, I will do my best to relate the issue I am having. I have been using Zotero since about 2018 as part of my graduate level. I used it with no issues through my dissertation on my computer. After taking some time off (I last used it in April 2021), I went into my app today to look at some articles only to find my entire Library (and every piece I had in it) completely gone. I thought I had been logged in but now I am not sure if I was or not. I have attempted to follow previous posts about recovering data but am having difficulty with it.

Here is what I have so far. I have been unable to find a zotero.sqlite larger than 1.1-5.1MB. I do have a storage folder that seems to have a number of my files (though I do not think all of them) and is roughly 1.38 GB. I can't seem to find a backup on my computer, though I do have a Zotero RDF from January of 2021 (22KB) but Zotero is unable to open it. I attempted to use the online validator suggested in another post (http://www.w3.org/RDF/Validator/) but kept receiving error messages which may be due to the fact that I don't understand how it works. Would anybody be able to assist me in figuring out how to recover what I can?
  • . I do have a storage folder that seems to have a number of my files (though I do not think all of them) and is roughly 1.38 GB.
    Let's start there: In the folder containing that storage folder, what are the other files and file sizes you see?

    Also, when you click on "Web Library" at the top of this page, do you see anything in the library?
  • edited 14 days ago
    In the storage folder there are approximately 794 with names such as YXSUKMMF and containing a mixture of either just .PDFs or .PDFs and other types of files. Looking at my dissertation list, that 794 most likely accounts for most (if not all) of the documents I cataloged during the 2018-2021 period. There are about 6 folders titled (in variations) tmp-4n9eHN that contain nothing in them. The size of the files range from a couple hundred KB to MB depending on what is in them.

    Unfortunately, I thought I was logged into this account on the computer that I was using Zotero on, but none of the documents I had used during the 2018-2021 time period are in the Web Library, only things from 2014-2016.
  • Sorry, I don't mean in the storage folder, I meant the folder that _contains_ the storage folder -- that should be the Zotero data directory.
  • Ok! The folder (which is called storage) that contains all the individual sub folders with .PDFs, etc. is 1.4 GB on disk for 4,644 items. This folder was one of the sub folders I have in a folder called Zotero which contains 6 sub folders (titled "locate"; "logs"; "pipes"; "storage"; "styles"; and "translations"). It also contains three files titled zotero.sqlite ; zotero.sqlite-journal ; zotero.sqlite.bak (all of these I checked out today when trying to follow previous instructions to recover my data). Is that what you were looking for?
  • OK, and zotero.sqlite.bak and zotero.sqlite are both <10MB yes?
    Any chance you have a back-up of that folder?
    I think the only scenario where we've seen this is where some disk-cleaning software has removed the zotero.sqlite database.

    Do you have a document that cites all these items?

    If you open the Zotero RDF file with a text editor (like notepad or text edit) could you copy the first ~15 lines here?
  • Yes, both zotero.sqlite.bak and zotero.sqlite are both <10MB. I have a works cited from my dissertation, but I also had hundreds of other articles that were organized in my library. I don't know if I have a backup of that folder. Would it be possible that if I restored my computer to a previous date that I might be able to recover a previous version of that folder?

    I looked back at the RDF and now think that it might have been for an individual source rather than the whole library. Sorry for the confusion on that, I have very little background with the coding/backup files side of things!
  • Would it be possible that if I restored my computer to a previous date that I might be able to recover a previous version of that folder?
    Obviously no promises, but there's a good chance, yes
  • @ajsarace2: Yes, to be clear, this happens if you use disk-cleaning software to try to free disk space and delete the zotero.sqlite and various .bak files by mistake. You'd want to restore zotero.sqlite — which should be larger than 5 MB if it contains data — from a backup of this folder. No need for anything else.
Sign In or Register to comment.