All Work Lost (with Screenshot)

I posted about this before and the reply was to ‘restore from backup.’ Fair enough, but it’s not normal for Scrivener to be eating entire documents and leaving them blank. This is really important and program-breaking.

In short, my computer occasionally restarts. For that reason, I have been saving every couple paragraphs I type like clockwork. In fact, I did a save just two minutes before my computer restarted itself.

When the computer restarted, I re-opened my document to come back to this.

A completely blank document with the cursor in the very first character space… which also somehow has 254 characters.

This is obviously a bug on Scrivener’s part, and I hope someone notices and pays attention or researches into it this time. While I CAN restore from backup, the last time I closed the program was at 2:54 pm. I lost six hours of work. I have now set the program to backup on save, but I hope people realize that this isn’t a fix… It’s not even much of a solution. Please look into this.

I bought the program, and I really like its organizational capabilities. Plus, if I just stop using it, it’s kind of a waste of money, isn’t it? Is there a refund policy?

It is really not fair to blame Scrivener for faulty hardware. Every program you use may experience the same issues on a computer like that. Maybe you should fix that first.

If you yank your power cord out of the wall, any words that have not yet been written to the disk will be lost. That’s true with any program, not just Scrivener: the computer’s memory goes blank when it loses power.

A spontaneous restart is pretty much the same situation. Scrivener is going along, minding its own business, and the floor drops out from under it.

It’s not normal for a system to spontaneously restart on a regular basis. Until you fix that, no software will be trustworthy.


I think y’all missed the part where I said I’d saved just a couple minutes prior to the crash.

A crash should not delete the saved data. That is a Scrivener problem. It’s the very definition of a bug.

Edit: Also, let’s focus on the problem instead of deflecting to my computer, please? No one can answer the restart problem, either, and I have been on the line with Origin many times about the issue. If you can figure out why my computer restarts every few days, please feel free to PM me and provide whatever assistance you can.

Edit 2: To clarify.

When I opened the file in the afternoon, there were already 3K words in the chapter. Those were typed days ago and saved. When I opened the program, they were there. After the crash? The whole thing was gone. The saved words included.

Now, even if you still believe I should fix the problem with my computer that no one seems to be able to fix, you have to admit that’s not normal for any program.

Can you reproduce the problem in the absence of a hardware crash?

As long as the data loss and the hardware restart are correlated, it is impossible to disentangle the two. Whatever is causing the restarts – CPU failure? Low level disk failure? Flakey power supply? – could easily affect data integrity as well.

Complaining about supposed Scrivener bugs when your computer is spontaneously restarting is something like complaining that the radio doesn’t work when your car’s wheels are falling off.


Edit to add: If it were my computer, I’d look at the cooling fan and the CPU temperature.

I really am trying to be patient here, because I know you don’t know the extent I’ve gone to to repair the problem.

No, I can’t re-create the problem, unfortunately. It only happens on a crash. And nothing is causing the computer to crash according to Windows itself, because there’s nothing specific in the event viewer besides the usual ‘unexpected shutdown’ warning. If the computer was crashing because of overheating, it would warn me 15 seconds before shutdown, and would also show in the event viewer. It also doesn’t show a CPU or power supply problem. It just shuts off.

I’ve tried pretty much everything, though, just to double check myself:

In order, I replaced both fans, reapplied thermal paste to both the graphics card and the CPU, and bought a 7,000RPM HDD so I could move any unnecessary files off my OS SSD in order to see if the problem was caused by not enough space being present on the disk. When that didn’t work, I backed up and replaced the SSD itself, which alleviated the problem for a few months? The time between crashes in the event viewer states that the time between crashes was January to May.

Unfortunately, I can’t keep purchasing a new SSD every time my computer decides to pull this restart thing again. Origin had me test the power supply, and that was apparently working fine, according to the tech on the phone. In fact, the tech said that nothing appears to be wrong at all.

And it only restarts if I’m using the keyboard. The computer will stay on for days and days as long as I don’t type anything. I know it’s about to crash because, while the computer doesn’t freeze, the system will abruptly stop inputting from the keyboard.

When I realized that, I installed a new keyboard. (It’s a laptop.)

I really wish I could just buy a new computer and get rid of the problem, but I can’t. I’ve put roughly $500 into trying to fix this one, because when it’s working, it works really well.

And… I realize at this point that I’ve really been using the wrong word. It doesn’t ‘restart’ as in actually rebooting, it just shuts completely down. Sudden black screen, etc. IDK if that helps any. For some reason, I’ve had the word ‘restart’ in my head.

I still think a computer crash shouldn’t erase data that you have already saved, leaving you with a blank file with invisible 254 characters in it (and no words). This doesn’t happen in Word.

To keep this on topic, if anyone wants to take a look at the file, I’ll be glad to send the backup. Adults only though, please. It’s a romance novel.

I think that for once Scrivener’s automatic save system may be part of the problem.

in Word, saving every now and then makes sure that you only lose a few words if the computer freezes. All you have to do is to open the file you last saved.

Scrivener automatically saves your work every time you stop writing for a few seconds, so you never have to do any manual saves. And the way a Scrivener project is set up, it’s only the sub-document you are working on that needs to be saved, not the whole project.

But if there is a hardware failure when Scrivener is saving, that sub-document might be destroyed. The entry in the binder-file could be correct, there just isn’t any file with text in the project folder for that specific sub-folder.

Solution? First, activate Backup on Save so you always have a recent backup. Secondly, maybe you should increase the idle time to trigger the automatic backups from a few seconds to several minutes, essentially stopping the built in automatic saves? Or maybe an even simpler solution is to break up your text in much smaller pieces. Instead of having binder documents with 2000 words, never have more than a few hundred in them. That way, the most you can lose is those few hundred, not several thousands.

Thanks–I activated backup-on-save earlier, so that should help with some of the frustration. I’ll increase the auto-save times, too. I didn’t realize that that could be part of the problem.

Do you think there’s any way to recover the 254-character blank file at this point, or is that a lost cause?

I also made the decision (spontaneously, about five minutes ago) that I’ll have to save up for a new computer. This one’s only three years old, but I can’t fix the problem.

Win PCs often start getting serious problems when they are three years old. Sometimes starting all over, format the disk and install a fresh up-to-date copy of Windows and all your other software, might make things better for a while, but PCs have a rather short active life span.

PCs are cheaper than Macs, but in a sense you get what you pay for. A decent Mac costs 2-3 times more than a cheap PC from the nearest computer dealer, but you can use the Mac 2-3 times longer without problems. At work, those with Macs get a new one every 5-7 years, whereas active PC users change every 2-3 years. One consequence is that PhD students often have to get a new PC when approaching their final year because the old one is slowing down too much.

One thought that comes to mind – depending on your hardware, you might be running into a problem with your storage controller and some sort of write caching being in play. It’s a common tactic to cache disk writes into memory instead, to take advantage of the speed difference (even with SSDs). The storage controller driver reports back “yes, this has been written to disk” and the application doing the write can go back to doing what it is doing. Then it’s up to the OS and the storage driver to actually write the blocks to disk.

If there is a problem in the driver somewhere, that actual write to disk may not have happened, and that could be why you’re losing data you thought you’d saved.

On server-level hardware where the performance boost for doing this is important but the data preservation is also critical, the storage controller is backed up by a small battery – so even if the system loses power it can still push those final writes out to disk.

First thing I would do is go into Device Manager and see if there are any options in my disks or storage controllers about write caching, see if they’re on, and if so, turn them off. This might result in a bit of a performance loss depending on how much you write to your disks. Then I would investigate the driver versions, device firmware versions, and BIOS/UEFI configuration to see if there are updates or configuration options there.

Sorry, Lunk, but this is poppycock. With care, there’s nothing intrinsic to Windows or PCs that would cause this to be true. And without care, the poor PC gets serious issues far sooner than three years, but that’s a user education issue.

It’s a general observation based on a number of years watching what is happening with both my own and colleagues’ computers. Starting takes longer and longer, sudden freezes become more common, etc. Intrinsic or not, a 4-5 year old Win PC is usually not very fun to work with. The explanation probably lies in your words “with care”. People in general only use their computers, they don’t “care” for them…

You’d need to do a teardown comparison to know for sure, but I’m wondering how much of the “Apple Premium” goes to Apple shareholders, and how much of it goes to system design, components, and build quality, all of which would contribute to long term reliability.


Sorry to hear you’ve been having this problem. I just advised another poster on backups and saving in the (extremely lengthy) post below. Skip the parts having to do with syncing:

[url]Label Colours Not Working]

One thing to be clear on: In Windows Scrivener, the option ‘Backup with each manual save’ will only make a backup when you press Ctl-S to do a manual save. With this setting, you can consider Ctl-S as similar to what you would do in MS Office, and save frequently, due to your temperamental PC. You’ll end up with a lot of zipped backups. A zipped backup in Scrivener is a copy/snapshot of your entire project, and is what you’ll want to restore from when a Windows crash botches your project. You’ll want to change the setting “Number of backups to retain” to something high, best case being that you change it to Keep All, and delete them yourself after a writing session.
Best of luck,

My Dell laptop will be 4 years old in Oct and still runs great. I’d love to keep it for a couple more years. Win 7 has been very good to me, not looking forward to moving on to the next MS OS.

I did… Lots of work last night and today on the computer. Well, not a lot of work so much as a lot of searching and figuring. I haven’t responded yet, because I don’t know if the crash problem has been solved but… Well, let’s talk about Scrivener first.

I have been ctrl-s saving a LOT since the crash problem started. Like I said, every paragraph or two. So I’m in the habit of doing that already, thankfully. I still think it’s worth looking into bug-wise, if that’s a possibility. Computers may crash once in a while, and a person who’s been diligently saving shouldn’t lose whole sections if it happens.

On the subject of the computer crashing–and I still don’t know if this has fixed the problem, but I’m hopeful. Comparing my program installs to my event viewer (which I hadn’t done before because I thought it was a hardware issue) I noticed that Microsoft OneDrive installed itself on 4/30/18, and my first crash came less than 24 hours later.

I didn’t even know what it did, honestly. I didn’t choose to install it. But apparently it syncs files and settings, and it was, it turns out, the cause of another problem I was having with the window I was typing in occasionally just going inactive. Since I uninstalled OneDrive, I haven’t had the problem.

It seems a little too coincidental that the crashes started immediately after installing it. We’ll see.

Anyway, I’ll update.

I hope you’ve found your problem.

One thing I want to make sure you understand, so my apolgies if you already get this, but Ctl-S saving by itself in Scrivener for Windows* will not save you, as you’ve already learned.

If you’re used to how MS Office saves, where, for example, if you save your open Word doc and keep working, you can be confident that the data since your last save is recoverable in the event there is a crash, understand that Scrivener’s save process does not work the same way. Despite Scrivener’s auto-save or your Ctl-S, if a crash occurs the open project may become corrupted and/or data may be lost.

This is what you’ve experienced. I have experienced it myself, back when Windows Scrivener was more prone to crashing.

Only a zipped backup will give you something to restore from.

That’s why in my earlier post I recommended setting “Backup with Manual Save”, so you get a zipped backup with each Ctl-S. Ctl-S without generating a zipped backup gains you nothing.

Again, my apologies if you aready know this.

*In Scrivener for Mac, saving may have more of an impact on project recovery.

The general observation is just that - an observation. I have an IBM windows laptop, purchased back in 2002, that still works like a charm. I have another HP laptop from 2009 that is still working. My daughter has HP from 2010, same thing. My point is Macs are not better or worse than Windows machines.

Maybe. Two places to look.

  1. Wherever you store your scriv files. Scriv documents have a structure, and it’s pretty clear if you poke around in there. It looks like Scriv lost an index (which is perfectly reasonable for it to do in a crash, honestly. It had the file, and during the crash it updates it with god only knows what). But the RTF files should all still be there, just not indexed. Inside the project folder will be a .scrivx file (that’s an XML file, and if you’ve got the right tools, you can parse it for yourself. Or edit it with Notepad. Not a great idea, but you can). There’s also a Files folder. Inside that folder is a Docs folder, and inside that are RTF files. Which may, or may not, contain your disappeared text. They’re numbered, without names (at least, mine don’t have names). You can open them with OpenOffice, Word, or Scrivener.

  2. %APPDATA%/Local/Scrivener/Scrivener/Backups (or whatever else you’ve designated as your backup location) should contain a set of zipped backups of your project. I rotate through 5 backup files; you may have had it set differently right before the crash.

Those two places are where the data is stored, and you may – MAY – be able to recover your lost text there.

I’m with ChaosKirin on this one and I appreciate your frustration because I’ve had this happen multiple times. I’ve also posted in the forum and contacted customer support. I’ve set up the auto-save and done as many of the suggestions that I could to fix this problem. But the pure simple fact is this: 1. Not all of us are as computer savvy as people who post here. 2. As customers of Scrivener, we shouldn’t have to deal with this issue.

It is clearly, at least in part, a software issue, so despite what anyone says, whether you represent Scrivener or not, Scrivener DOES BEAR SOME RESPONSIBILITY for this issue. They are not absolved by pushing this off as a hardware issue, or an incompatibility with other programs issue, or a virus, or user error, or whatever excuse is en vogue that week. As much as I despite Microsoft sometimes, at least this sort of thing would NEVER happen with Word. So, my advice to Scivener is this: consult the Microsoft model and set up your saving mechanism so it’s similar to Word. Because if your program is branded as unreliable, you’re going to lose more customers and not get new ones. And we all know what happens then.