Zotero 1.5 Beta and Live Mesh – Take 2
23 March 2009 1 Comment
I commented on my initial efforts to share the Zotero database and storage files across several machines using the Live Mesh sync service. This worked very well with the Zotero files captured in the ‘storage’ folder, as once created these files and their folders did not change across machines. The downside occurred with the zotero.sqlite database file and its extra backup file copy zotero.sqlite.bak which is updated when the last Firefox browser window is closed.
On many occasions I became lazy and left Firefox browser windows open on two or more machines. These machines are left running so the Live Mesh sync service can keep them up to date on the many other folders of documents that I use. It is not surprising that Live Mesh, which starts syncing as soon as a change is detected, can cause file update conflicts when the same Zotero database file is being updated over the same time period on different machines. Later versions of Live Mesh detect this and append the machine name to the file when in conflict. While safe this leads to a plethora of different Zotero database files which have to be managed manually – somewhat of a pain.
At the beginning of February I must have transgressed and installed a virgin copy of Zotero 1.0 with a totally empty ‘storage’ folder. This caused Live Mesh to sync and delete all files in the ‘storage’ folder, about 75 MB of vital PDF files and web page pieces used to create the Zotero page snapshots. Disaster! Fortunately I have a Windows Home Server and was eventually able to recover a consistent copy of the Zotero database and files, having lost about 2 weeks of reference collection – better than nothing, but a new approach was needed.
I turned to the beta of Zotero 1.5 that offers online syncing of the database across different machines. This solves the zotero.sqlite file problem and also keeps a free online backup copy on the Zotero Sync Server. However the ‘storage’ folder requires you to use your own WebDAV file storage server:
Not having easy access to a WebDAV server I thought once again to give Live Mesh a try. This time I only sync the ‘storage’ folder, and after about a month of usage no problems of any kind have been encountered. I thus now offer up this recommendation for others to try, and will be interested in the experience of others.