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EndNote 21:  Backing up Library

Manage your references and create in-text citations and reference list

Backing Up Your Library and Documents

Backing Up Your Library and Documents 


It is essential to regularly make a back up copy of your EndNote library, so that if something goes wrong you will always have a working copy of your library. Ensure you re-name the backup library (e.g., add the date of backup to the file name such as EN backup 2024-04-05).

There are a number of ways to create a back up:

  • Copy and paste the relevant files (the EndNote library and the .DATA folder) to a different location

Use Windows Explorer to navigate to where your files are stored. Copy your EndNote library (.enl file), AND its associated Data (.Data) folder, then Paste to a different folder on your computer, and/or to a USB drive or other portable storage device.  

  • Create a compressed library within EndNote: File > Compress Library (.enlx)

Open your EndNote library, select File | Compress Library (.enlx), and choose the option to Create | With File Attachments. This creates a single compressed file. Save this to a different folder on your computer, and/or to a USB drive or other portable storage device.

  • Email a compressed library within EndNote: File > Compress Library (.enlx)

Use the File | Compress Library (.enlx) | Create & Email command to send a copy of your EndNote library via email to yourself or a colleague (be aware of the size limit of the email system). 

  • Save an exact copy of your library within EndNote: File > Save a Copy

Use the File | Save a Copy… command to save an exact copy of the library to a different folder on your computer, and/or to a USB drive or other portable storage device. This will save a copy of your library, plus its associated Data folder. 

  • Sync within EndNote Desktop to EndNote Web for backing up and sharing your library


Please Note: EndNote is not compatible with cloud-based services such as Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, OneDrive, SharePoint, etc. There are synchronisation issues with these services that can corrupt your library if you access/update it directly from the cloud.

It is also advisable to save backup copies of any Word documents which include links to your library. 

EndNote Disaster Recovery  


It is possible to reconstruct at least part of your EndNote Library if you have:  

  • just the EndNote Library (minus the DATA folder)  
  • just the DATA folder (minus the EndNote Library)  
  • documents which include references inserted from the EndNote Library.  
  • a damaged or corrupted library

NOTE: All of the methods described below will not reconstruct the EndNote Library exactly as the original - a good backup schedule is essential for all of your research files. 


Creating EndNote records when just the EndNote Library file is available  

  • Open EndNote, then click File > Open Library.  
  • Select the EndNote Library file.  
  • A message will appear confirming whether you would like to continue opening the EndNote Library without the associated Data Folder.  
  • Click OK.  

The Library will now open and a new DATA folder created. Using this method:  

  • any groups that were present in the original Library will not be recreated  
  • all file attachments present in the original Library will be lost  


Creating the EndNote library when just the DATA folder is available  

  • Open Notepad, then click File> Save As.  
  • Do not enter any text in the file - save in same place as the data folder, with the same file name as the data folder with an .enl extension.  
  • Open EndNote, then open the .enl file just created.  


Creating an EndNote library with records from Word documents via Traveling Library 

It is possible to create an EndNote library with records from references included in a Word document, if those references were inserted via EndNote. This is a very useful way of retrieving records if your EndNote Library and the .data folder are both lost. This process is also useful if a collaborator has sent you a document with many references that you would like included in your own EndNote Library.  

  • With the Word document open click the EndNote 20 tab, then Export to EndNote > Export Traveling Library  
  • Choose either to import into a new library, or to an existing target library.  

This method creates EndNote records that include just the bibliographic data, as included in the Reference List entries. Additional fields, such as abstracts, plus notes, and attachments will not be created. 


Repair a Damaged EndNote Library Using the Recover Library Feature

Depending on your situation, you may consider the following solutions:

  • If you have a recent back up copy of your library, you may use the backup copy.
  • If you have synced your library with EndNote Online recently and the online library is still intact, you may create a new local blank library and synchronize from the online library
  • If the two methods above are not applicable to you, you may use the Recover Library command to repair the damaged file. This command will recover references from your damaged library and save them into a new library named after the damaged library with a suffix '-saved' by default.

To repair a damaged EndNote library

  1. Close the damaged library if it is currently open
  2. From the Library menu, select Recover Library. Read the information about the Recover Library command, and click OK
  3. As prompted, select the damaged library and choose the name and location where you want to save it, then click Open
  4. Open and check the new library for any issues, and use the new library in the place of the original damaged library from now on.