MSVU logo

Find Resources
Library Services
About the Library

RefWorks: guides, instructions, tutorials

Important 'Restore' Function Notice

The benefits of using the backup/restore option rather than using the import/export feature are::
  • Your folders remains the same
  • Your attachments are included
  • The RefID numbers required for re-formatting already existing Word documents remain the same


When you restore an account, anything already in the account
will be overwritten

Backing Up Your RefWorks Account

We recommend regularly backing up your RefWorks account. This prevents data from being lost should an error arise with your account.

Backing up your account saves your RefWorks database as a .RWB file on your computer. In addition to being a safety precaution, the backup function is also useful for transferring your RefWorks database to a new account, if necessary (for example, you attended the University of Toronto for your undergraduate degree, but are now attending Mount Saint Vincent University for your graduate degree).

To perform a backup of your RefWorks account, select "Backup & Restore" from the Tools drop-down menu.


A new window will pop up, and you can select which items you'd like to backup, including references, attachments, RSS feeds, and modified output styles (we recommend backing up all of these items). Once you've made your selections, hit the Perform Backup button.


If you are backing up a lot of references, this may take a minute. When the backup is done, you will be prompted to save the file. Give the file a name that is meaningful to you (for example, RW September2015 Backup.rwb), and save it to a location on your computer that you will easily remember. Your backup is now complete.


Restoring Your RefWorks Account

Regularly backing up your account is a good way to ensure that your RefWorks database remains in good working order (as discussed above). Sometimes, it may be necessary to put a backup file into use by using the Restore function.

For example, let's say you performed a backup of your RefWorks account, then shortly thereafter you decided to make a lot of changes to the way your references were organized. But after awhile, you find that this new way of organizing references isn't really to your liking. Instead of taking time to try to undo all the changes you made, you can simply use the most recent backup file saved to your computer to restore your account to its previous state.

NOTE: Using the restore function will permanently overwrite everything in your account (including RSS feeds, modified output styles, and attachments). Your account will be modified to the exact configurations in the backup file — you can't pick and choose aspects of your account to restore, while retaining other aspects currently present. If you're looking to modify certain aspects of your account, use the Export/Import feature (see the Exporting References and Importing References tabs for more information).

To use the Restore feature, you must first have a RefWorks backup file saved to your computer in order to restore it (see above box). Once you have this file, select "Backup & Restore" from the Tools drop-down menu.


A new window will pop up. Select the Restore link, then select which features you'd like RefWorks to restore (if all features were backed up, we suggest restoring all features). Browse for the file you have saved to your computer and then click the Perform Restore button. Your account has now been overwritten with all the references and settings present in the backup file.

Large Databases

If your RefWorks account is very large (i.e., tens of thousands of references) you might encounter difficulties in backing up or restoring your account. This is because it takes more time to backup or restore large accounts, and your Internet connection may time out.

If this happens, you can try exporting your RefWorks references one folder at a time using the Export function in RefWorks Tagged Format 

This guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial License.
Creative Commons License

You may copy the guide for noncommercial purposes as long as credit is included. Please be aware that the guide may contain links to subscription based services for which access is restricted. We encourage you to license your derivative works under Creative Commons as well to encourage sharing and reuse of educational materials.