In 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:
- the Zotero data (i.e., the database with all bibliographic information, tags, and notes)
- 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:
- You have a very large number of attachments or some very large attachments.
- You have already subscribed to a service like the popular Dropbox, and would rather avoid paying for an additional cloud storage service.
- You have a very slow or expensive internet connection, but have your computers connected via a local area network.
- 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: