All Work Lost (with Screenshot)

Having personally lost a significant amount of data with Word, I’m skeptical of this claim.


Unless you have activated “bacup on manual save” doing a manual save with ctrl-s doesn’t do much good because Scrivener automatically saves every time you stop writing for a few seconds. A better way to make sure you don’t lose big chunks of text in case of a crash is to split the text up in smaller pieces, more sub-documents. If you get a crash exactly while Scrivener is saving, then you only lose that small sub-document.

And you are right to be so. I’ve dealt with Word for nearly two decades now, in all its incarnations, including on a Microsoft corporate machine with a Microsoft corporate IT-maintained image, and Word STILL lost data because of third-party software, bad luck with power, hardware failures, etc. I’ve written two technical books and contributed to half a dozen more, scores of white papers, and countless more technical documents where Word was the only choice. Hell, I’ve lost data with Notepad, Notepad++, and any other editor anyone can think of.

Scrivener for Windows is where I have lost the least amount of data. I have had to retrieve data out of the component RTF files, so I have had to be a bit more educated about what the file formats are, but it’s done a remarkably good job at preserving my work somewhere (unlike even more modern versions of Word, which are MUCH better about the whole thing than Word 2000-2003 ever thought of being).

This attitude is akin to “I drive the car, I don’t have to know how to maintain it.” Well, no, you don’t need to know how to perform the tune ups and oil changes and tire checks, but you should probably know when to make the appropriate appointments, or at least pay for your choice of automobile roadside service so when the inevitably entropic events occur, somebody can bail you out. Same for software.

I haven’t followed this thread, so I may be missing the point. But it seems to me that precisely what makes Scrivener able to do things that Microsoft Word cannot and will likely never do is that it uses an entirely different data structure that is not amenable to “the Microsoft model.” A Word document is a discrete, self-contained file. A document in Scrivener is part of a project composed of multiple files, and the project has to have an indexing structure to relate the files/documents properly to one another. (And I’m probably oversimplifying even this.) A power outage between saves could corrupt the necessarily-open project index, and thus make even the most recently saved versions of documents unavailable. Hence the repeated suggestions in this thread to create backups as well as saves, since the backups would preserve the index structure.

Only the old .DOC files were a single file – a very crappy proprietary binary format that was easily corrupted, no matter how many thousands of man-hours they threw at trying to idiot-proof Word.

The .DOCX format looks like a single file, but if you rename that .DOCX to .ZIP, you can browse inside it and see that it’s actually a collection of various files, mostly XML and known binary formats (like PNG, GIF, JPG for the pictures you add). So Microsoft increased the reliability of Word by moving to the exact same sort of file format that Scrivener uses. They just rely on the hidden ZIP archive trick to compress the final size down, because you’re not going to place the large research files into a Word document that you would into a Scrivener project.

Thanks, Devin. Something was itching at the back of my mind about .docx files actually being composite, but I didn’t really know. Always appreciate it when actual knowledge shows up!

And a PS: For any and all good that MS Office’s .???X files do for the world, one more tip of the hat to the late, lamented Phil Katz, who made the product of his labors public domain as the ZIP file format. (Enlighten me further if I’ve got any of that wrong!)

I appreciate everyone’s suggestions about making sure your work is backed up, but will users really back up data every paragraph to make sure that new material is constantly saved in the event of program shutdown or power outages? The point here is that we shouldn’t have to. I don’t care about the program file structure. I only care if the program does what I want it to. I don’t know all the intricacies of my car. I just know that if it doesn’t get me from point A to point B, I’m going to either get it fixed or buy a different car.

Well, setting up a backup system on your computer is in analogy with filling up gas in your car. Will you change car when you run out of gas?

If my car refused to start on a regular basis, I’d get it fixed or get a new one, too. But if a defect in the car was causing the battery to fail at regular intervals, I wouldn’t be surprised if I kept having to reprogram the presets on the radio.


FWIW, the OP hasn’t reported any further problems since de-installing OneDrive back on June 22.