Citavi reports that my project is damaged and needs to be repaired


When opening a project, Citavi warns that "The project file is damaged" and offers to repair the project.


Later versions of Citavi know how to identify and repair damage that went unnoticed in earlier versions. Allowing Citavi to repair the damage prevents worse problems in the future.

Damage can occur for many reasons. Some of them you have control over.

  • Incorrect shutdown: If your computer is not shut down properly, such as following a crash or power loss, data loss can occur. Be sure to always shut down the computer using the Start menu.
  • Hardware problems: Hardware failure, such as failing hard disks or USB flash drives, can result in errors when writing and reading.
  • Fake USB flash drives: Rarely, very inexpensive USB flash drives sold online from disreputable vendors are in fact counterfeit, and do not have the advertised capacity (for example, it might be advertised as 8GB, and appears as 8GB in Windows Explorer, but the true capacity might be only 2GB). Attempting to use more than the true capacity results in data loss. There are various testing programs available for free that you can use to test your USB flash drive.
  • Disconnecting removable media prematurely: Always use the Eject command in Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media in the notification area of the Taskbar to eject removable media, such as USB flash drives and hard disks. If your Citavi project is on removable media and is removed before using Eject, the project may be damaged.
  • Unreliable network shares: One cause of problems is unstable network connections, such as caused by a loose wire or a crushed cable. Another is Linux file servers using the Samba software, which does not always properly block open files.

Technical Notes

Citavi project files are SQLite databases, a common format used by countless programs. Citavi projects can be damaged on two levels:

  1. Damage to the database itself (that is, damage to the SQLite "container")
  2. Damage to the data itself (that is, damage to the data inside the container)

For the first case, we use SQLite's own repair capabilities, which create a fresh container to which the contents are copied. For the second case, Citavi checks for inconsistencies and repairs them if possible. If an item inside a project is lost, Citavi will save it if possible. For example, if a reference is lost, the quotations it contained will be retained and reassigned to a "dummy" reference called "!!Citavi Project Repair".

Steps You Can Take

  • Save additional backups to another disk.
  • Increase the number of backups Citavi creates automatically. You can increase it to 10 backups or more. For example, if you set it to 30 backups, the oldest backup will be purged only once Citavi has been exited 31 times.
  • Choose quality hardware, especially USB flash drives. Check reputable review websites for comparisons.
  • Use your USB flash drive (or an online disk) only for transport, but not to work from. That is, copy the project from the USB flash drive to the hard disk, open it from the hard disk, then copy it back when you're done. 
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