3 Ways to Increase Your Zotero Cloud Storage

The Zotero “personal research assistant” now comes with 300 MB of cloud storage free for attachments in each account. This is a good amount, but it can go quickly, especially if you start storing larger PDFs in your Zotero library.

AltYellow Photo by Darwin Vegher

For instance, the Bavarian State Library has made available PDF scans of Gabriel Vasquez’s entire 4-volume Commentariorum ac disputationum in primam partem Sancti Tomæ. But, if you download volume 4, the smallest, and want to store it in your Zotero library, you’ll need 372 MB of storage space.

So, what happens when you use all your Zotero cloud storage but still want to synchronize attachments between multiple computers or just back them up to the cloud? Here are three options.

1. Subscribe to a paid Zotero storage plan.

For users who require additional cloud storage, Zotero offers three paid plans, ranging from 2 GB for $20 per year to unlimited for $120 per year.1 This option is probably the most straightforward. It may also make it easier for you to access your stored attachments via some mobile applications like PaperShip. But, this solution requires paying for an additional cloud storage service.

2. Use your own WebDav service.

In addition to synchronizing attachment files to Zotero storage, Zotero also supports using the WebDav protocol.2 The Zotero documentation provides a list of providers whose WebDav service is known to work with Zotero.

Each of these WebDav providers makes available 2–15 GB of free storage. But, some also have lower limitations for individual attachment file sizes.

Certainly the most generous of these options is 4shared. 4shared’s maximum WebDav file size is 2 GB for their free plan. This is large enough to accommodate pretty well all the files I currently have stored in Zotero.

But, of course, larger attachments will eat away at 4shared’s 15 GB free allotment comparatively more quickly. At that point, a 4shared “premium” subscription would be necessary at $77.95 per year in order to allow up to 100 GB of attachments to be stored with no lower limitation imposed on the size of individual files.

So, synchronizing attachments via an alternative WebDav service may be more economical than doing so via Zotero storage. But, unless you already use 4shared or a comparable provider, it would still require an using additional cloud storage service.

3. Change where Zotero saves your attachments.

In this option, you can use cloud storage you already have to store Zotero attachments. When doing so, it’s important to note that you should not allow a generic cloud storage service like Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive to touch your Zotero database.

From the “Files and Folders” tab of the Zotero Preferences dialog box,3 you can change the directory where Zotero saves all its files, including its main database. For a while, I changed this directory so that it would synchronize via Dropbox. But, as the Zotero documentation warns, I ended up corrupting my database and having to restore an earlier copy repeatedly.

Instead, a better method of implementing this option is to go ahead and synchronize your Zotero database via Zotero’s own protocol. This will help keep it from being corrupted. But, you can then move where Zotero stores the attachments.

For Windows users, this can be accomplished via a “symbolic link.” This isn’t the same as a “shortcut.” Instead, a “symbolic link” allows access to a file or folder via two different paths. To use a symbolic link to change the location of your Zotero storage directory, take the following steps.

a. Open your Zotero directory.

By default in Windows 10, Zotero saves all its files under C:\Users\{username}\Zotero. Before proceeding to the other steps, you may want to back up this directory to a safe place, just in case something goes amiss.

b. Move the “storage” folder.

Inside the Zotero directory, you should find a folder named “storage.” Make sure Zotero is closed, and move this folder to the cloud storage folder of your choice. You can also rename the folder if you’d like for ease of reference.

So, for instance, I have a directory D:\OneDrive\Research\Zotero. This directory contains all the sub-folders and files Zotero looks for in “storage.”

c. Create the symbolic link to your new Zotero storage location.

To create the symbolic link:

  1. Open the Windows menu.
  2. Search for “cmd” or “Command Prompt.”
  3. Right-click this program, and choose “Run as administrator.”
  4. If you are asked whether you want to allow this app to make changes to your device, choose “Yes.”
  5. Enter cd C:\Users\{username}\Zotero. You’ll need to replace {username} with your username as it appears in the file path under step (a) above.
  6. Type mklink /d “storage” {file path where you moved the Zotero “storage” folder}. You’ll need to replace {file path where you moved the Zotero “storage” folder} with the actual file path. This would be D:\OneDrive\Research\Zotero in my example above.
  7. Press Enter.

You should now be able to go back to C:\Users\{username}\Zotero (or wherever your main Zotero folder is) and find there a symbolic link named “storage.” If you click this link, it should take you to the directory where you moved your Zotero storage folder.

Next, reopen Zotero, and test opening a few attachments. If they open properly, everything went well. If the attachments don’t open, delete the “storage” symbolic link, and try creating it again via the steps indicated here.

Storing with or without Stores

Whether you use one of the paid or one of the free options, these steps should give you some additional options to manage your Zotero storage. In the end, of course, what matters is having the space you need to save your research and avoid needing to _re-_search for what you’ve previously found.

In what other ways have you increased your Zotero cloud storage? Linux- and Mac-using friends, what processes do you go through that correspond to (3) above?

  1. Zotero also offers special storage plans for laboratory and institution-wide deployments
  2. According to Microsoft, “Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) is an extension to Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) that defines how basic file functions such as copy, move, delete, and create are performed by using HTTP.” 
  3. To access this tab, open Zotero, and click Edit > Advanced > Files and Folders. 

Citing Electronic Journals with Individually Paginated Articles

There are several good online journals that publish articles that are paginated separately from each other, rather than running the pagination continuously through a given issue (or volume). Just a couple are the HTS Teologiese Studies and Scriptura (at least in recent volumes).

AltTypewriter by Pereanu Sebastian

I’ve tended to treat these as though they all appeared at the beginning of a given issue (all starting with page “1”). But, SBL Press has clarified that this isn’t their most preferred way to treat this situation.

For articles in online journals that aren’t paginated in series, the preferred note form for the first reference to this type of article is:

[Author name], “[Title],” [Journal] [Journal volume] ([Journal volume year]): art. [Article number in the journal volume], [“p.” or “pp.” according to whether one or multiple pages is cited] [Page number], [Full DOI URL as a live link].

Thus, one example would be:

Ntozakhe Simon Cezula, “Waiting for the Lord: The Fulfilment of the Promise of Land in the Old Testament as a Source of Hope,” Scr.(S) 116 (2017): art. 3, pp. 1–15, http://dx.doi.org/10.7833/116-1-1304.

Subsequent references are constructed in the same way as they would be for any continuously paginated journal article.

To get the initial citation above from this bibliographic record, I had to adjust the default Zotero output for the SBL style by: (a) making “.3” into “art. 3,”—although this article isn’t in an “issue,” this seemed the best way to store it in the database—(b) adding “pp.” before the page references, and (c) adding “, http://dx.doi.org/10.7833/116-1-1304” after the page reference.

The corresponding bibliography format would be:

Cezula, Ntozakhe Simon. “Waiting for the Lord: The Fulfilment of the Promise of Land in the Old Testament as a Source of Hope.” Scr.(S) 116 (2017): art. 3, pp. 1–15. http://dx.doi.org/10.7833/116-1-1304.

For additional information, see both Electronic Journals with Individually Paginated Articles and HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies on the SBL Handbook of Style blog.

I wonder if there may need to be a new item or data type created in Zotero to support constructing this type of citation without this additional massaging.

Or, do you other Zotero users have other insights about ways of getting closer to output above with the software and the SBL style as they stand?

Update: Brenton Wiernik suggested the following excellent workaround via Twitter.



In the Twitter discussion above, the URL I mention should be the DOI URL. But, Twitter has presented a shortened version automatically.

Discussion of this citation situation is also now pending in the Zotero forums.

Publication Year Ranges in Zotero

At present, Zotero’s “date” field doesn’t properly handle publications made over a range of years (e.g., 1950–1960). Instead of including the full range in the corresponding note or bibliography entry, only the first year of the range would be presented (e.g., 1950).

There is, however, a workaround that depends on entering the following syntax in an item’s “extra” field:

issued: [first year]/[last year]

Thus, for example, if the extra field has

issued: 1950/1960

Zotero would properly output a range of publication dates “1950–1960.” According to the Zotero forums, “better support for various date formats in the Date field itself is planned,” but there hasn’t been any indication of when this might be forthcoming. Until then, this workaround should prove immensely useful for these kinds of situations.

For other discussion of Zotero, see these posts.