Automatic Backup: similar to auto-save.

I think the current backup function in Scrivener is the best of every program I have used.

Even better would be to add a timed automatic backup option similar to the auto-save function: timed and with date and time added.

The only thing needed is to have “Backup on manual save” and “… on project close” activated as default. If Scrivener made a complete backup every few seconds, like auto-save, peoples hard drives would quickly be filled and everything would slow down as backing up the whole project, which might be several Gb in size, takes much more time than saving the currently edited document.

I want Auto-backup to be configured by time. A very useful user function.

“Project too big?” Then disable this very reasonable feature.

There are numerous software tools that will backup your entire hard drive at regular intervals, and allow you to retrieve backups that fall into a given time window. What is the advantage of duplicating this functionality in Scrivener?


For those on MacOS there is an amazing back up function built in - TimeMachine. For Win there are apparently a number of decent free options though difficult to beat one baked into the OS as with Mac.

As previously stated, why duplicate options already out there that as a side benefit protect all your files, not just those from Scrivener.

I have multiple applications that provide protection hourly and daily. None of these provides the protection of an immediate backup of the current documents’ changes to protect against accidental and deliberate deletion of text and links,…

Programmers and music professionals have forever recommended using SAVE AS only. Saving every few minutes to a new name to protect what has changed. And thereby preserving that which should not have changed.
SAVE is destructive. Auto save is worse.

Scrivener already has the function to create a backup. It already has the function for timed saves.
Very little needs be done to combine the two.

In my experience, “Save As” has caused far more problems than Scrivener’s automatic saves. A significant number of “lost data” issues ultimately trace to a “Save As” command that caused the user to mistakenly open an old version of the project that didn’t have the latest changes.

Scrivener provides two mechanisms to create a “save point” to which you can easily revert: Snapshots, and the “Backup on manual save” preference option. Snapshots, as the name implies, create a second copy of the specific document(s) in your project that you want to preserve. Backup on manual save creates a backup of the full project on demand.

Also in my experience, a short autosave interval can easily cause performance problems. If Scrivener mistakenly believes that the user has paused and tries to save the file they’re working on while they’re still typing, the user may experience “freezing” and typing lag, both of which are obviously undesirable for a writing application. The autosave only captures the most recently edited documents, while a backup captures the entire project – easily hundreds of megabytes, potentially a gigabyte or more. The performance implications of doing that every few minutes, outside of the user’s control, should be obvious.


Early beta/alpha builds of Scrivener had a timer-based option in the automatic backup pane; an option that was removed during testing because it is effectively useless. The problem is that every fifteen minutes or whatever, you’ll be madly typing and doing stuff—and suddenly the software cuts you off with a modal progress bar while the project backs up.

Now if you have one smaller project and a very fast drive, this won’t be a massive inconvenience, just an annoyance as you pick up your writing stride again (which is not to be underestimated, this kind of stuff gets under your skin quickly). But think about this problem on a larger scale. What if you have two projects open? Will they each have their own fifteen minute timer? If so does that mean you’ll be typing merrily along in one project, and suddenly some minimised project in the background triggers a backup—forcing you to wait until its done? What if you have five or six projects open? Will you be stuck staring at a progress bar for 10, 20, even whole minutes at time for large projects, “randomly” and as often as every five minutes, throughout the day?

All right you might say, have it be a hard clock with all eligible open projects are backed up simultaneously. That’s pretty awful as well! Again what if you have five projects open, each of which takes 15 to 30 seconds to back up. That’s a nearly two minute time out every fifteen minutes!

And you can’t do anything like “only the active project” either. You may not do it, but I usually do indeed have around four or five projects open at once, and among those I use about three of them on a very regular basis as I transition to different real-world tasks throughout the day. It might have been ten minutes since I last did anything in the other one. E.g. right now I’m typing into this project I use for communications), but the user manual project in the background is what I was working in before taking a break and reading the forums. So does that now not get backed up because it is in the background—for how long, three hours even if I never come back to it? That’s pretty awful too—now you don’t really have a good sense of when anything is backed up, and stuff you only use now and then may never be, until you trigger one of the other conditions.

As Katherine notes, project backups are whole copies (whole copies that are then zipped, which is even slower than duplication), and can sometimes be an awful lot of material. Obviously someone with gigabytes of data in their open projects would likely avoid any kind of timed backup setting like the plague, they probably do not even use the backup on close/open options—but the problem isn’t really in the extremes. Like I say, all it takes is two or three open projects and a total backup time of 15 seconds every 15 minutes to make you really start hating the feature.

I know, I’ve tried it.

I heartily recommend the manual save backup option. That was the answer to the removal of this setting. There was a need for an easy way to make incremental backups throughout the day, and leaving the decision of when to take a 30 second break should be up to you, and you should use it as frequently as you please.

It is better than Save As, and far easier because all you have to do is hit ⌘S and take a sip of water.

I agree wholeheartedly. Save As is dangerous, especially for less computer-literate users.

I use it with this caution: Save is set to 2 minutes. And a backup is created with every manual save, and I manually SAVE about every paragraph. I have hundreds of backups, on a separate disk. I have lost nothing. Nor have i had to restore.

The backup is a zip and takes about 5 seconds. This project consists of 50+ documents, and about 45k words. This project is used for quick notes for many other projects, and few of the docs are related.

Caveat: I am not doing any compiling, at this point. And therefore not concerned with all the formatting strangeness.

And, even when gold, I will continue to manually save every few minutes until scrivener is equipped with timed auto-backups.

Which is unlikely ever to happen.

Why? Because for a large project, it’s a performance issue. A backup, by definition, is a complete copy of the entire project. A user in another thread was recently talking about 20 GB of text alone, and that much again in research materials.

Personally, I would recommend having either an offsite or an external drive backup (or both) that’s independent of both Scrivener and “cloud” services. Something like this is the ideal tool to use for timed backups as well.


Loony dude has a 20 gb project and the rest of us need to be treated like him?

This is a reasonable feature. Its use should be a USER decision.

It is something you can achieve today. Download AutoHotKey, a free add-on that allows you to make scripts.

Configure your Scrivener projects so that they perform a backup on manual save. Now, any time you press Ctrl-S, Scrivener will back up your project.

Now, create an AutoHotKey script to press Ctrl-S every however many seconds you desire (3600 is one hour, 1800 is 30 minutes, etc.)

Not only do you now have timed automatic backups, you have the ability to manually backup any time you desire – AND you have a very capable scripting and automation engine that can do more.

1 Like

Uh… I have it set to save after two seconds of inactivity…

I looked to see if there was an option for it, because I’ve known how it goes for a while now. You start typing, there’s a * in the title, you stop for a moment, the * goes away. If the power goes out or something like that, you just bring it back up and you haven’t lost anything, unless it’s just a couple of words.

Sure enough, there’s an option. I can only guess that two seconds is the default, because I never touched the setting.

Gothelittle, I think it’s useful to realize he’s talking about backups , which are separate from the auto-saves you are nicely noticing.

  • Scrivener auto-saves whatever you’ve been typing on screen, a few seconds later, yes. That’s what you would hit the Save icon or ctrl-S in Word for, just to get on disk what you’ve typed before something might h appen (power cut, for instance).

  • Backups, Scrivener also does, by default or with your personal setting. Backup means to save a full copy of your entire Scrivener project, its state at the moment. Scrivener does this ‘out-of-the-box’ every time you close the program.

  • Which is one more reason to do it, au contraire to some noted here who ‘leave it up for weeks’. Never a good idea for a PC, or anything on it - closing, shutting down, restart when you use it lets a lot of health meaures take place, which you do want…

Ok, hoping it helps, and best, best Scrivening,

SAVE IS DESTRUCTIVE. And after you close the program ALL UNDO HISTORY IS GONE.

If you had deleted something that you should not have, without a backup, you are shit on a rope. Period!

Regular, and separate, backups are the only way to cover you ass.

I have Scrivener set to BACKUP with EVERY MANUAL SAVE. And I manually save way often. The backups are saved on a separate disk. Another safe-guard. This is how real programmers work. Why should users be treated any differently?

I would prefer to set an auto-backup every 3-4 minutes, or after a specific number of changes, ala Cakewalk DAW.

To tell us that the majority, as in prolly 99% of users, cannot have this feature because there are lunatics that have been so stoopid as to have projects way beyond any sense of human reason, is silly at best. Why should the majority have to suffer for the mental illness of the fewest?

Auto-backups do not have to be enabled by default, as too many windows, and apple, “features” are. They should be USER defined. As are the current settings for save and backup.

I want to be able to auto-backup as I desire. This makes TOTAL sense.

The code already exists. How about providing a few check boxes for users to use it?

Just because a writer’s project is a different size to yours doesn’t make them a lunatic, stoopid (sic), or suffering from mental illness, and insulting them is unlikely to convince anyone of your argument. In fact likely the opposite. Neither is continuing to berate after a member of the L&L team has given you their response.

From the Beta download page

Your request is not a bug, so perhaps post it on the wishlist page as a request, where no doubt it will receive due consideration.

Moderator Note: I have split off this entire tangent back into your original feature request thread, in which this topic was already discussed at length. This has nothing to do with whether or not the beta is a safe platform to work from.

I do not understand the necessity for the hostility and abusive language being used here, it is entirely unnecessary. Large projects like these are in fact well within the design parameters of this program, and a big reason for why it uses a distributed folder architecture for its storage model. A simple single-file XML model would probably have been a better choice if the idea was to not put much into a project other than your words.

That is really neither here nor there however, as projects can be excluded from the automated backup system. The problem with your request (to reiterate) does not have to do with outliers, but rather that it is annoying with “99%” scenarios.

Huh, ok, I stand (or sit) corrected. :slight_smile: I assumed he was talking about saving, because it would not have occurred to me to keep making full backups every few minutes.

If I’m working on a particular section and I think I may want to preserve the way I started it, I usually copy-paste it into the Notes and then delete it when I’m happy.

I never leave my project open for more than one day. When I go to bed, I close all my programs and set my computer to either sleep (less common, for if I need quick PC access in the morning) or shut it down to restart fresh the next morning.

That said, it’s not like I have any problems with someone having a feature request I don’t use.

But I don’t think the autosaving or auto-backup is any different between Scrivener 1.9 and Scrivener 3 Beta,

There’s another option for leveraging the vestigial File->Save shortcut, which is to make Scrivener take snapshots of all of the documents that changed since… the last snapshot of the current writing session, I think. It bloats your project if you use it too frequently*, but it makes it a LOT easier to sort through the changes you’ve made to a given chapter document over the course of a few hours/days.

[size=85]* This feature creates a full copy of the binder item’s text content every time you create a snapshot, so it’s not really worth it to invoke it every few words. But a handful of times per writing session as you start editing gives you a reasonable set of snapshots that you can compare to the current text in the editor.[/size]