Managing Your Files

  • Cloud storage allows you to sync your Zotero library across multiple devices so that you can access your Zotero library anywhere you have Internet access.
  • When you import PDFs automatically with the Zotero browser extension, Zotero will store the PDFs in its own file storage system on your hard drive. However, you can choose to manually link to your files rather than use Zotero's file storage system. 
  • Keep in mind that cloud storage is not a replacement for backing up your files
  • After you leave Harvard, you may need to make changes to your storage plan. 

Using Zotero Cloud Storage

At Harvard

If you register for your account with your Harvard email address you receive free unlimited storage from Zotero. This means

  • no limit to the number of items that you can add to your Zotero Library
  • no limit to the amount of PDFs you can add

After Harvard

At some point after graduation, Zotero cloud storage will revert back to the free amount (300 MB). You will not lose any data or files, but you will not be able to sync any content that exceeds the 300MB free limit unless you pay for additional storage through the Zotero website. Prior to graduation, Harvard affiliates should add a personal email address to their Zotero account.

  1. Login in to your account and click on Settings.
  2. Click on Account and scroll to the last option Add Email.
  3. Add a personal email address and click Update Emails to save.

Back Up Your Zotero Data

Backing up your Zotero Library to an external hard drive or other backup software ensures you won't lose data if something happens to your computer. Zotero developers don't recommend relying solely on a synced version to the Zotero cloud, as the data could be lost via automatic syncing.

When you install Zotero, a folder is created to store metadata, notes, and attachments locally on your computer. To find your Zotero file storage folder:

  1.  Go to the Advanced tab of your Zotero preferences.
  2. Select "Files and Folders". 
  3. Click "Show Data Directory." This will show you where that folder is located on your computer. Be sure to include it in your computer backups!

Location of Files and Folders under Zotero Preferences

Manually Link to Files

If you already have a good file management setup on your computer and would like to manage your files outside of Zotero, go the General tab of Zotero Preferences and uncheck Automatically attach associated PDFs and other files when saving items. 

If you uncheck this, as you conduct your research, you will be required to download and manage all PDFs and other files on your own.

Location of box to uncheck the automatic downloading of pdfs

One way that you can manually associate files to Zotero items is by using the option of linking to a file.

  1. Right-click on the item and select Add Attachment.
  2. Select Attach Link to File.
  3. Navigate to the location where the file is stored and select it. The item in your Zotero library will now have a link out to the storage location of the file on your computer. 

Menus for Add Attachment and Attach Link to Files