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A short survey on cloud storage services for zotero

Thursday 31 January 2013, by Stéphane Téletchéa

When you come to use multiple computers, zotero offers you to synchronize in a single place all your citations on their own servers with a limited number of storage available, 300 Mb at the time of writing this article.

Since there are many other free and dedicated storage alternatives, it is possible to explore them all for getting the best of zotero still keeping all your library, including pdf files, synchronized.

This article presents a short survey of some popular free storage services accessible to zotero, the library used for tests containts more than 1500 references with pdf files attached, representing more than 2GB of data and 10 years of scientific work in various areas.

Note that recently a dedicated application for mobile phones was released (http://zotero.hypotheses.org/381) so you can even more make use of zotero while traveling.

box.net

box.net offers 5 GB for free. The setup in zotero is:

a) register for an account on http://www.box.net
b) open the zotero preferences window
c) activate the storage using the "webdav protocol"
d) select the "https" protocol in the drop-down list
e) fill in "box.net/dav" in the url form
f) fill-in your identifiers, and verify if the connection works

If the zotero folder does not exist, zotero will create it for you.

When everything is set up properly, then just wait for the auto-synchronization or activate it by clicking ont he green arrow in the zotero main window.

After some tests and while the 5 GB storage seems large enough for a reasonable scientific work over a long period, there are regularly synchronization problems with the storage, independent of the network used for syncing (i.e. it happens on various computers from different places).

This is also what is reported by other zotero users in the forum (http://forums.zotero.org/discussion/26852/webdav-file-sync-error-using-boxcom/), which may be related to some redirections inside the box.net service itself (http://forums.zotero.org/discussion/3987/getting-webdav-syncing-to-work/).

It seems some parts can have a workaround (http://forums.zotero.org/discussion/20351/your-webdav-server-must-be-configured-to-serve-files-without-extensions-and-files-with-prop-extensi/) but without guarantee of success ...

mydisk.com

mydisk.com offers 2 GB for free. To set it up in zotero :

a) register for an account on https://mydisk.com
b) open the zotero preferences window
c) activate the storage using the "webdav protocol"
d) select the "https" protocol in the drop-down list
e) fill in "mydisk.com/" in the url form where is the login used for connecting online to the service
f) fill-in your identifiers, and verify if the connection works

If the zotero folder does not exist, zotero will create it for you.

When everything is set up properly, then just wait for the auto-synchronization or activate it by clicking ont he green arrow in the zotero main window.

The service proved to be robust and fast, the 2GB limitation is the only reason why I quit the offer.

4shared.com

4shared.com offers 15 GB for free!

This service is more famous for the sharing of other types of files, but we will keep the focus on its primary function of file sotring and sharing for your own use.

a) register for an account on https://www.4shared.com
b) open the zotero preferences window
c) activate the storage using the "webdav protocol"
d) select the "https" protocol in the drop-down list
e) fill in "webdav.4shared.com" in the url form
f) fill-in your identifiers, and verify if the connection works, and this fails...

This fails since zotero is not able to create the "zotero" folder inside your own 4shared storage.

To create it, just open the web folder on your computer. Under (Ubuntu-) GNU/Linux systems (for Windows, just read the instructions at http://www.4shared.com/features/access_to_4shared_with_webdav/howto.jsp):

sudo apt-get install davfs2
mkdir -p ~/webdav/4shared
sudo mount -t davfs https://webdav.4shared.com/ ~/webdav/4shared

Please enter the username to authenticate with server
https://webdav.4shared.com/ or hit enter for none.

 Username: <YourUserNameHere>

Please enter the password to authenticate user <YourUserNameHere> with server
https://webdav.4shared.com/ or hit enter for none.

 Password: <YourPasswordHere>

/sbin/mount.davfs: warning: the server does not support locks

Replace "" and "" by the credentials used for connecting initially on the web server.

Once done, you can create the zotero folder:

cd ~/webdav/4shared

sudo mkdir zotero

sudo umount ~/webdav/4shared/

/sbin/umount.davfs: waiting while mount.davfs (pid abcde) synchronizes the cache ..

OK

g) you can now test again if the credentials are accepted by the server, it should be ok this time.

When everything is set up properly, then just wait for the auto-synchronization or activate it by clicking ont he green arrow in the zotero main window.

For now the syncing process is fast and seems reliable, I’ll post an update if this changes in the future!

Some users encountered problems, though (http://forums.zotero.org/discussion/23101/webdav-sync-problem/).

Alternative readings on this subject

The official zotero forum:

Other web sites giving similar advices

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