Syncing Zotero with Syncthing

I've been syncing Zotero using Syncthing (basically a free, self-hosted Dropbox alternative that lets you mirror folders between computers; since it's self hosted you have unlimited space for free, but your computers have to be online at the same time for it to work) for a while by just mirroring the entire \Zotero\ directory, syncing both the database and attached files. I realize this is not recommended, but it worked so long as when switching between computers I closed Zotero and let the database files sync.

But I just realized that instead of syncing the whole \Zotero\ directory in Syncthing I could just sync the \Zotero\storage\ directory (since Syncthing lets you sync any specific folder path) and then let Zotero's automatic online sync handle syncing the database.

This may be a good way of syncing Zotero for those of you with large space requirements and a computer that you can leave on all the time to act as a Syncthing server.

(Or devs, let me know if this sounds like a bad idea for some reason.)

Detailed Instructions: (assuming you have Zotero installed on two different computers already)

1. Download Syncthing. (or any other sync program that will let you sync files located anywhere on your hard drive)

2. Set up each computer to sync with the other(s) in Syncthing.

3. For each computer, get the path of the Zotero data directory and set up Syncthing up a new synced folder named "Zotero-storage" or something similar with the Zotero data directory path for that computer with "storage/" appended to the end. (get the data directory path here) Check the boxes to share with your other computers.

4. Assuming you have a Zotero sync account already, go to the Zotero preferences > Sync tab and put in your username and password under the Zotero Sync Server section, and set the Sync Automatically and Sync full-text content if you want.

5. UNCHECK the options under File Syncing. (Syncthing is handling this instead of Zotero)

6. Let Zotero sync its database and Syncthing sync your attached files.
  • yes, while your original setup would be very much discouraged, what you're doing now, i.e. just syncing the storage folder, will work just fine.
  • For the record, I can confirm that the setup described above in the detailed instructions works very well. Of course Zotero storage sync is a different matter and it provides a larger feature set for e.g. groups but for individual use Syncthing is nice.
  • Nice idea, it seems to work well, many thanks!
  • This also works well for the styles folder as well as storage. This avoids the problem of having different styles available (especially custom styles) on different computers, even if the dbase and storage is synced.
  • Just a heads up for those using Syncthing: the location of the Zotero folder has changed from ~/.firefox/PROFILE.default/zotero to ~/Zotero so you should adjust your Syncthing accordingly - I just removed the share and added it again.
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