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In this article, we look at how to recover a damaged/corrupted EndNote library.
We recommend saving your EndNote library locally on your computer. Many save their library on a shared network drive, and this is ok if you do not experience any glitches in your network, but if you do experience damaged libraries please save locally instead. Some save to a cloud storage service like DropBox, Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud etc. Cloud storage is not recommended, and this will lead to damaged libraries after a while.
Please see this article about cloud storage and why you should avoid it:
If you need to save your library in a cloud storage service (i.e. for backup purposes), save and open/use your library locally, and copy your library files (.enl and .DATA folder) to cloud storage after closing EndNote. You can also make a backup of your library by opening your library and choosing EndNote: File > Save a copy.
Then if you want to use the library, copy from cloud storage service to your local computer, and then open the library in EndNote.
To make a backup of your library, EndNote: File > Save a copy, to another device. We recommend to year-month-date name it, i.e. "2020-04-20 MyEndNoteLibrary", so you know and can sort your backups by date made.
Please note that you can save a backup/copy of your EndNote library to cloud storage service/folder. As long as you don't open the library, but move it to your local computer before opening and working in the library.
Please note that iCloud syncs the Document and Desktop folders on Mac by default. Do not save your EndNote library in these folders. Save the EndNote library in your Home folder instead.
Please see this article about how to do this:
If you need synchronization of your library between different computers we recommend using EndNoteOnline. With an EndNoteOnline account (free to EndNote users) you can sync your library to your EndNote online account (cloud), and share groups of references or your whole library with other users. You can also access your library (www.myendnoteweb.com) from any computer with an internet connection.
Here is a training session for EndNoteOnline:
What constitutes an EndNote library?
Please note that an EndNote library consists of a file (.enl), and a .DATA folder with the same name as your library file. They are always stored in the same folder on your computer. So if your library is named "My research library", then somewhere on your computer, in the same folder, there should be a file, "My research library.enl" and a folder "My research library.DATA". Both the file and the folder is your library and must be copied/transferred together. The file contains your reference data, while the .DATA folder contains your PDFs and attachments (they are saved in the PDF subfolder inside your .DATA folder), and groups, index, term lists, etc.
By default, EndNote opens your recent library. Choose Tools > Library summary to check where your current open library is saved on your computer (Location field). You can also search your computer for ".enl" files, to find your EndNote library.
A. Methods for recovering a damaged EndNote 64-bit library
(X9.3.3 or later)
The process you generally can use is to go through these steps below, and if the step fails, move to the next step (making sure to have a backup copy):
- Try to convert the library directly by double-clicking/opening your original 32-bit library. All EndNote library files have the file association/ending .enl.
- If you have synced the old library with your EndNote online account. Create a new, empty library, and try to sync with your EndNote online account, EndNote: Tools > Sync.
- Remove the PDF folder from the library DATA folder, and attempt to open and convert.
If it works you can copy the PDF folder from old DATA folder to new DATA folder/library after the conversion.
- Attempt to Recover the library using EndNote X8 (Not available for Catalina).
You can download EndNote X8 from here:
If you install on a computer with EndNote X9 already installed please choose customized installation (step 3), and remove every install option except EndNote X8 program itself. Please note that if you mess up, you can always repair or reinstall your EndNote X9 afterwards.
- Discard and recreate the library ENL file using a blank renamed TXT file, and attempt to Convert. See section B.3 below for more information.
- Attempt to Convert directly from the library ENL file (without the .DATA folder present). This will result in lost Groups. See section B.4 below.
- Attempt to EndNote: File > Import > File, the records using the “EndNote Library” option, into a new blank library. EndNote X9.3.x should be able to import from any generation of EndNote library format. This includes EndNote 7 (prior to the requirement of the .DATA folder), EndNote libraries predating the 64-bit update, as well as current 64-bit libraries.
- Use Word [EndNote]: Export to EndNote > Export travelling library, to export inserted citations from your Word documents. The Traveling Library field coding will also span generations of bibliographical data. So, it’s possible to export say… an EndNote X4 formatted document into an EndNote X9.3.3 64-bit library.
B. Methods for recovering a damaged EndNote 32-bit library
For some of the steps described below you need to see file extensions (.enl, .docx, .pdf, etc.) on your system. You can google: "how to show file extensions on Windows 7/10/Mac" to find instructions on how to do this on your specific system.
1. EndNote: Tools > Recover library
This method is the first you should try. Open/start EndNote (without any libraries), and choose Tools > Recover library, and open your damaged .enl library file.
2. Backup from your EndNoteOnline library
This method only applies to those who have created an EndNoteOnline account and synced the library - before the library got damaged.
- Open EndNote and create a new, empty library. You can name the new library whatever you like. (EndNote: File > New)
- Sync your new, empty library with your EndNoteOnline account. (EndNote: Tools > Sync)
- Hopefully, your new local EndNote library will contain all your previous references and attachments.
3. Create a new .enl file from your .DATA folder
- Create a new, empty folder.
- Copy your (damaged) .DATA folder to this new folder.
- (Windows) Open Notepad, and choose File > Save as, and save a (empty) Notepad file to the new folder, with the same name as your .DATA folder + .enl. Eg. If the name of your .DATA folder is "My research library.DATA", save as "My research library.enl".
- (Mac) Use the Applications / Text Edit program to create a new, blank text file then just save it into the folder you created in step 1. Give it the same name as your .DATA folder, e.g. if the name of your .DATA folder is "My research library.DAT", give the text file the name "My research library". Then navigate to the new folder (via Finder), and click the text file. Press Command+I on your keyboard at the same time, and in the Name & Extension field, rename the text file and extension to the name of the original .enl file, e.g. "My research library.enl". Press OK.
- Start EndNote, and choose Tools > Recover library, and open your newly created text file. Hopefully, EndNote will be able to recreate your EndNote library.
Notice for Mac!
If you've saved your EndNote library as a package file (.enlp extension), you'll need to extract the package library's internal .enl file and Data folder before recovering:
- Quit EndNote.
- Use Finder to navigate to the folder where your .enlp library file exists.
- Hold down the "control" key on your keyboard while clicking the package library file. Choose "Show Package Contents" from the resulting menu.
- Now that you're looking at the contents of your package library, drag and drop the .enl file and .Data folder from this Finder window and place the two library components elsewhere, such as your Desktop.
- Proceed with the library recovery process as listed above by selecting the .enl file that you dragged out of the package library.
4. Create a new .DATA folder from your .enl file
- Create a new, empty folder.
- Copy your library file (.enl) to this new folder.
- Double-click/open the .enl file you copied in the step above. Click OK to have EndNote create a new .DATA folder for this .enl file.
- Close EndNote.
- Copy the PDF folder from your old .DATA folder to your new .DATA folder.
- Open the new library by double-clicking the new .enl file. If you can not open the library/it is also damaged, one or more of your PDFs are corrupted. You should try deleting the latest ones you added to your library before your library got damaged (and probably delete PDFs that are over 100 MB in size). If you can open your new library, proceed to step 7.
- Copy the 3 misc files and the db file from the old .DATA:rdb folder, to you new .DATA:rdb folder.
- Open the new library by double-clicking the new .enl file. Hopefully, your data, attachments, and groups are successfully recovered.
There is a 5th method also. When a library does not recover on a Windows computer, in some cases you can take the same library to a Mac computer with EndNote installed, and it will recover it (and vice versa for Mac). So if you have access to a Mac/Windows computer you could also try that.