Syncing Zotero with Dropbox and Between Several Computers

Zotero-Dropbox-Sync-Remember-Everything-OrgIn this post I want to shed some light on how you can sync your Zotero library between different computers, and between your computer and Dropbox, a popular cloud storage service. Due to the nature of the matter, what follows is somewhat technical, but don’t let that deter you. Once setup, the synchronization works automatically in the background, without any further effort.

In a previous post, I introduced Zotero, a popular free research tool by the Roy Rosenberg Center for History and New Media of George Mason University. As a brief recap: Zotero allows you to organize all your research sources and create a complete digital library with the click of a few buttons. To learn more about this fantastic tool and why every knowledge worker should consider using it, please check this post.

Recommended approach for syncing Zotero between different computers.

Zotero allows you to synchronize everything via its own cloud storage service, Zotero Storage. “Everything” includes:

  1. the Zotero data (i.e., the database with all bibliographic information, tags, and notes)
  2. the Zotero files (i.e. attachments, such as PDF documents, videos, books, and webpage snapshots)

The basic plan (upto 300 MB) is free. 2GB will cost you $1.67 per month ($20 per year), and 6 GB set you back $5 per month ($60 per year). IMO, Zotero Storage should be your first consideration as it is very easy to setup and manage, it is affordable, and your payments support the up-keeping of the infrastructure.

There are, however, some good reasons why you might want to employ a different method to sync your Zotero files:

  1. You have a very large number of attachments or some very large attachments.
  2. You have already subscribed to a service like the popular Dropbox, and would rather avoid paying for an additional cloud storage service.
  3. You have a very slow or expensive internet connection, but have your computers connected via a local area network.
  4. You are looking for a solution to create a local backup for your files (and database).

(The database is usually below the free storage limit and should always be synchronized via Zotero’s cloud service.)

Here then are some alternative solutions you can employ: Continue reading

How to Really Keep all Files in Sync between Your Androids and PCs

With many people now owning a PC, a tablet, and a smartphone, Dropbox has become a very popular service to keep files in sync. You place your files, folders and subfolders in your PC’s Dropbox folder, and they should in principle be available in the cloud and on every other device with an installed Dropbox app.

Unfortunately, unlike the Windows app, Dropbox for Android phones and tablets doesn’t quite work this way. Only files you have marked as “Favorites” are downloaded to your local tablet or smartphone and thus available offline. All other files in your Android’s Dropbox are only accessible if you have a network connection, so for example not on a plane, not when you are on an expensive mobile network in a foreign country, and so on. What’s more, you can only mark files, not complete folders as favorites, and if a particular program doesn’t directly support Dropbox, you are out of luck as well. In a nutshell, Dropbox on Android is missing the sync.

As you can imagine, I was quite disappointed when I tried to sync my first Android phone. Are we in the 21st century, or what?

What I needed and wanted, was a real sync:

Continue reading