I am have deleted 5 years of work of an entire group. Please help me find a way to fix this.

I downloaded the desktop Zotero today and tried to export over three large libraries from a group I was invited to. I don't know Zotero, so I watched a 30 minute video on how to get started. I exported the libraries from the group, and then went back to my desktop zotero to import them. I was able to import them, but the PDFs would not attach. I could not understand why. I found some instructions on zotero that said if the pdfs did not attach that you should delete the new folders, empty the trash and then try to import again. I did this but got the same results. I then read that sometimes the pdfs don't download if they are not on the server--that you need to open the pdf where it is stored. So I went back online to try to do that. But the pdfs are light grey/won't highlight. I look below and it says "modified at ---" which would have been me. Meaning, I think, that the PDFS are deleted. Maybe other things to. I can't believe it. I did not know that my desktop version was connected to the online version. I am so concerned right now. I found this link and thought maybe this could work: https://forums.zotero.org/discussion/66036/restore-group-library-after-member-accidental-delete

So maybe, if someone else hasn't connected to the server, the files will still be there. I will continue reading but I am terrified I have just destroyed five years of other people's work. Is there any way I can fix this? I am reading through the other discussions but this is so egregious and I am so concerned (and such an idiot) I am terrified I could make it even worse. I called the member who invited me and sent them a message but they are not picking up. Is there anything I can do?
  • What is the date added on those items and who are they added by (check in the web library)?
  • The good news is it is very unlikely you have lost five years of work - Zotero data is much harder to delete than this!

    My guess is that you have misunderstood how to join a Zotero library. If you were 'invited' to a group, what you do after downloading Zotero is to 'sync' the group library, not 'export' the library. Exporting would create a new copy and if you imported them into your Zotero, then you have effectively created a new database that is not linked to the original files. If your desktop Zotero shows the files in 'My Library', you have definitely imported a new database - it should instead show up as 'Group libraries'.

    If this is the case, everyone else still should have their PDFs and database, it's just that you've got a new library (that isn't linked to theirs now). If that's the case, what you need to do now is 1) delete everything in your library, and in Preferences, add your Zotero username that you were invited on and password, then use the green 'Sync' button on the top right to sync the libraries instead.

    I would also suggest that, even if you managed to delete everything in a group library, everything can be restored using the 'Bin' in the group library, plus a sensible group library would also be backed up somewhere (for example, if you use a Mac using a Time Machine). So someone should be able to restore the library.
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