recover deleted collection

I am a new Zotero user. I have been looking for software like this for several years to be able to manage research on multiple artifacts (websites, film, books, TV broadcasts, ephemera) all in one place. I love what it can do. But I am having many problems, and I find most of the explanations in the forums are too sophisticated.

I just accidentally deleted a collection. I thought I was deleting just one item in it but it turns out I was viewing the item but I had the whole collection selected. The collection is still in my library on the server. I have not synced and I have not shut down Firefox. How do I recover it without losing anything I entered since my last sync a few hours ago (the auto sync is not working well so I am doing it manually)?

I have read through the forum. If I reset, will I not lose my most recent material?
  • It sounds like you have a good sense of your options. There is no way to undo removing a collection. Now, none of the items were deleted, so you can reconstitute the collection.

    If you do decide to reset to your last sync you will lose anything you did since that sync.
  • Thank you for the quick reply. I have printed off the list from the server so that I can manually re-create the collection. But, as many others have said, this should not happen. At the very least, there should be an undo function. Second, there should be a clear difference in notification between deleting an item and a collection. I thought the confirmation message said delete an item, hence I hit yes. Third, the sync function should include an option for manual comparison and restore of local and server.

    FYI, the other problems I am having are 1) my sync password is not stored, even while Firefox remains opens, 2) the capture options are woefully inadequate for film and television, 3) the styles seem incomplete for film and television citations, and modifying them too complex, and 4) the organization of data options are inadequate -- report creation should include options of selecting what fields, how to sort, etc. and easy export to excel should be possible.
  • Recreating the collection from the web view was a great idea.

    There are some very old tickets about undo functionality. Much of the need for this functionality was taken care of with the trash can. With that said it remains an issue for collections.

    The conformation dialog box does specify that you are deleting a collection. It says "Are you sure you want to delete the selected collection." So I am not sure what more could be done there.

    I am not really sure what an option for manual comparison would look like, particularly in cases where a user has thousands of items. As for your second request, there are four different options for reseting sync in the reset tab of the sync preference pane.

    As for your other issues consider starting new threads. There are a lot of folks in the Zotero community who would be happy to talk about ways to improve these individual elements of the software, but it is tough to work through a series of unrelated problems in a single thread.
  • A Full Sync in the Sync->Reset pane of the Zotero prefs would have restored the collection, as would have modifying the collection on another synced computer (or a fresh profile you synced to).
  • edited April 20, 2018
    [Edit: This is no longer necessary. See below. — D.S.]

    My hack to restore Zotero files, collections:

    1.) Go to the Zotero settings (gear looking icon on the Zotero command bar)
    1.b Click <Preferences..> command
    1.c Click <Advanced> icon on the top right
    1.d Click <Show Data Directory>

    2.) Shut down your browser so that Zotero is not active.

    3.) Using your file browser that should open up via 1.d, copy the files starting with zotero.sqlite to a different folder. (note: this will include some back ups as well as the active file from which you have deleted items or collection - imo its better to back them all up for expediency and just in case)

    4.) Rename the file zotero.sqlite in the Zotero folder (not the backup folder) to zotero.sqlite.2.bak.
    4.a Rename the file zotero.sqlite.1.bak (the file Zotero created as a backup) to zotero.sqlite

    5.) Open your web browser and go immediately to Zotero.
    5.b This should show the deleted items and collections.
    5.c Quickly rename the affected collections to <Deleted Collection Somethingorother>. I say quickly because you need to do this step before Zotero has time to sync up with the server.

    This should restore the index to your items and collections. Click on one or more to verify. The next time Zotero syncs it will probably show the affected collection(s) before renaming as well as the renamed collection (that is, if you deleted items rather than the whole collection). You may then consolidated or undo the renaming of the collection(s) as it suits you.
  • Thanks @4GPro, it works!!
  • Thank you it worked for me @4GPro even after 7 years :D
  • Thanks@4GPro. It worked for me. You saved me.
  • edited April 1, 2018
    wow thank you @4GPro! Saved months of collecting!!
  • Hi, I can't see any of my collections online (only my main library folder). Any tips for that situation to recover a collection? It's a collection in a shared library as well.
  • do you see them locally?
  • I wasn't fast enough to rename it and it disappeared. Any other way to do it, @4GPro ? Grrrr, it's the folder for my last 4 years! I also have it on my Ipad, which is not connected. Do I still have any chance to recover it from there??
  • You can restore from the last automatic backup to recover a collection.

    I'm going to close this thread, since it's many years old and a simpler process is covered in the linked instructions. If you're still having trouble, please start a new thread.
This discussion has been closed.