Library Missing

Hi all, my entire library has disappeared, so when I open Zotero it's empty as if I just downloaded the software.

I had imported around 16000 files in total and was working on renaming them in the library. The library was offline, connected through a WebDAV to a folder in a NAS Synology. The file sync has been through the WebDAV the entire time I was working, but the data directory has been connected both through a local network drive (which was more stable) as well as a WebDAV portal. About 4 weeks ago, when I opened up my Zotero (connected through the WebDAV portal at the time), my library was just gone, and I am not able to load it in Zotero at all, either through local or WebDAV. The data directory still has all the files, but they are just not appearing in Zotero.

Does anyone know what has happened or how to solve this?! Thanks.
  • The data directory should never be in a network-connected location, and we can't help with recovering from having it there. You can review Locating Missing Zotero Data to understand what you're looking for in the data directory or your backups. The library is just an SQLite database file, and you'll need to determine if you have a working, non-corrupted copy.

    Going forward, your data directory should be stored on a local disk.
  • A suggestion:
    maybe add a note in Preferences under the section where the user define the path to the directory, saying: " * The directory should never be in a network-connected location, and should be stored on a local disk."

    Not everyone read all the manuals online, espically if they miggrate from other softwares and just want to start working. It will be very helpful for new users to have as much "idiot-proof" instructions as possible.

    Many thanks
  • We'll look into adding some additional language there, but I would argue that if you're a new user and just want to start working, you should just start using Zotero, not go into the Advanced pane of the preferences and start configuring something called the "data directory".

    In any case, I somewhat misstated things to @snova7 above. The hard-and-fast rule, as explained in the first link above, is for cloud storage, and we show a warning when we detect that someone has chosen a known cloud storage path (e.g., "Dropbox"), which covers the vast majority of cases that lead to bad outcomes.

    Some people do store their data directory in a network share without problems, and we don't explicitly recommend against it as long as you never access it from multiple computers (which, like the cloud storage issue, would be a recipe for disaster with any database-backed program, as anyone using a network drive should know). But even for single-computer usage, network shares don't always behave exactly like local filesystems, and if you run into a problem, moving the data directory back to the local disk is the thing to do.

    It's not actually clear to me what happened to @snova7, but the second link above should provide enough info to resolve the problem.
  • Hey everyone,

    I ended up fixing our issue by retrieving an older version of the .sqlite file. Now that the stress is dissipating, I can't help but feel like so much of our organization's work is riding on that single file. I don't usually work with this software, but I was wondering if there is any way to update files metadata directly, which could then be reimported into Zotero, in the event of another catastrophic failure.

    Thanks for all of your help, everyone
  • @EBGEO: There's nothing special about that file. As with any important data, you should have a regular, automated backup of it — and ideally of your entire computer so you don't have to think about individual files.

    Note also that you can use Zotero syncing, which isn't a replacement for a proper backup but would allow you to restore your data if your database was lost.
  • Thank you for your help @dstillman my colleague mentioned, we were able to fix the issue.

    The reason we were using a network-connected location for the data directory is we were trying to keep our data on our private server and to still be able to use them from multiple computers in our organization, but there is obviously an instability in doing so.

    If we were to transfer the data directory to Zotero file storage and syncing, would it be easy to do so? (ie. no loss of information through the transfer) Is it as simple as switching the preferences from WebDAV to Zotero? Or are there other steps that would be necessary to take?

  • You can just update the prefs, yes.
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