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Learn how to use the reference management software Zotero.

Back up and restore your Zotero library

Although you can back up your Zotero library with Zotero Online, things can sometimes go wrong with cloud based storage. Similarly, other errors could also happen to your Zotero library stored on your computer. So, it is important to back up your Zotero library regularly. Try the following steps to save a backup library on an external device.

Copy your Zotero directory

  • Open your Zotero Standalone, click Edit > Preferences, and then Advanced. 
  • Click Files and Folders, then click Show Data Directory bar 


  • The Zotero directory on your computer (e.g.C drive for Windows) will pop-up (see next image).
  • Close your Zotero Standalone before you copy, delete or move files.  
  • On the Zotero directory box, highlight all files and right click to Copy these files



Save your Zotero directory to an external device

  • Go to your backup location, e.g. a USB stick, create a new folder and name it as Zotero. Now right click on this Zotero folder to select Paste. The files you copied from your C drive will be transferred to this Zotero folder on your USB, as a backup.


  • Including a date in the name of the saved Zotero backup folder is always a good idea, e.g. Zotero 5 Oct 2015.


You should back up your Zotero library regularly.

Find more details about Zotero directory location on the Zotero website.

If there is a problem with your Zotero library, it is possible to restore your library from an earlier back up copy. Follow these steps: 

  • On your Zotero Standalone, click Edit > Preferences, and then Advanced.
  • Click Files and Folders, then Show Data Directory.


  • The Zotero data directory will pop up.
  • Create a temporary folder on your desktop.
  • Move Zotero.sqlite and Storage from the Zotero data directory to the temporary folder:


  • Open the backup Zotero folder on your USB (or other external device where you save your backup Zotero library data), Copy Zotero.sqlite and Storage from this folder.
  • Go back to your C drive Zotero folder, Paste these two files into this folder. Your Zotero library should be restored.
  • The temporary folder on your desk top can be deleted now.
  • If you were using syncing, any changes you made to your local Zotero library will be synced to your online library.


Find more restoring options on Zotero's website.