AutoSave to Two Locations Simultaneously

Hi, KB and others. I’m old to writing, but new to Scrivener (and love it so far).

With most people saving both to a cloud (ICloud, Dropbox, etc.) AND a hard source (flash drive, computer hard drive, etc), it would be nice if the AutoSave would allow TWO simultaneous choices, so that it saved automatically each time to each location (rather than selecting one location, and having to remember to manually change it to later save to the other location).

Perhaps there is a method to AutoSave to two distinct locations (without changing Save As locations manually) currently that I am unaware of. With the advent of clouds, I think most authors save to both cloud and hardware.

Thanks, all. Sven. :slight_smile:

If you have the Dropbox desktop application, then your Dropbox cloud information is duplicated in a folder on your hard drive, so that you have both a local copy of every file, and a cloud copy. Any changes to either location is automatically updated in the other location. So, if you choose to have your project located somewhere in your Dropbox folder on your computer’s hard drive, every time you change the project locally the changes will automatically update in the cloud.

A few points (I’m going to prognosticate that KB won’t want to add this feature based on previous answers to the same request) that will hopefully help you out with keeping multiple backups.

1: Files you save to Dropbox & other cloud storage solutions (with the… kind of… exception of in-browswer documents) are already on your hard drive. Dropbox & it’s ilk monitor a folder on your hard drive for changes, and upload those changes to “the cloud” as well as applying any changes from the cloud back to that folder. So saving a backup to your Dropbox folder is already putting the file in two places (your hard drive, and DB servers on the internet).

2: You have automatic backups that can be located wherever you like, and triggered by various actions (closing the project, opening the project, pressing CMD-S or going to File->Save). Visit the Backup tab in the Preferences/Options window for those settings.

3: File->Back Up->Back Up To… lets you create an alternative backup that can go to another location from the automatic backups location. I don’t know if it will remember that location over many sessions, but it’s definitely an option.

4: Save As is sometimes risky if you aren’t paying close attention. When you invoke that command, it creates a copy, closes the original*, and the opens the copy* in Scrivener (this happens in other programs too, btw). This means if you’re not careful, you can end up editing a backup, and then come back to the original that lacks your recent changes. This, I believe, is how a lot of people end up with “lost work” in Scrivener; that work is in a backup instead of the original version, but they don’t realize it. For that reason, I recommend against do this.

  • Technically, this doesn’t happen as I describe, but the end result is the same.

Thank you, Sanguinius and Robert.

I did not know that an open Dropbox automatically updates changes that I make directly to my Hard Drive. Thank you both for that education.

Robert, are the autobackups (your #2 comment) .zips by default?

Most importantly, from what you have explained to me on the Tech thread, and now here, (the potential downsides to Save As), shouldn’t one just plain Back Up To (.zip) every single time? Should that not be the “method” for a Scrivener user? Why would one ever use Save As (i.e. many disadvantages, but are there any advantages to Save As)?

This is helpful because I may change my entire way of Scrivener saving (I used to use .zip only once in a while) forever (not to put any pressure on you or anything…lol). I bet this is a common subject, so I appreciate your patience for this newbie, Robert et al.


Edit: To save Robert and others time in typing a reply, I found this blog article:
Author’s very specific take on it: … ndows.html

But, it still does not answer my question as to whether all stores should be Backup.zips rather than Save As’ (with the potential issues mentioned by Robert). I can see if I was changing a project title or something, but assuming just want a stable copy, .zip every time?

Should I open my project the following workday (whether from FD, Cloud, whatever) from a .zip backup, every time, esp. if using different computer?

Thanks so much.

Yes, but that’s just a matter of a check-box in the backup preference pane. I like .zip because it takes the underlying files & folders that Mac OS X hides from me and creates one file (for really real) out of that mess. Makes it possible to email, and prevents the project from being accidentally opened up (see my diatribe against Save As for backups below).

As far as I’m concerned, Save As is not a good backup tool. It’s a way to create a copy that will change in ways that you won’t want to apply to the original. For instance, let’s say you’ve spent quite a lot of time creating document templates, keywords, statuses, etc… and want to use that work as a starting point for future projects. You do a Save As and name it “My Novel Template”. Then, in that copy, you go about deleting all of the actual novel, research files, character sketches, and other files specific to your main project. Once done, you can then turn it into a permanent template by visiting File->Save As Template… Or maybe you’re about to do some major restructuring of a work, and want to try it out in a copy, so that it’s convenient to throw out the changes simply by closing the Save As copy and going back to the previous version.

We’ve been trained to make “backups” using Save As because for the majority of time that personal computers have existed, there was no convenient, reliable way to do make backups of our work. Now backing up your computer and versions of your files is built into the OS (especially on Macs) and some individual programs, but there’s this vestigial “Save As” function that still has its uses, and we are still adjusting to the way things have been done for decades. (See also: using the Tab key for indenting paragraphs, two spaces after terminating punctuation…).

This is my opinion only, mind you, but I think I’ve made a decent case for it.

That’ll teach me to read all the way down before responding… :stuck_out_tongue:

That’s a question of how cautious you are with your sync regime. In the manual, there’s a section called “Scrivener Everywhere”. Follow the advice there to the letter, and you can keep an un-zipped “live” (non-backup) copy of your project on Dropbox without issues. But deviate even a little, or have network issues you don’t notice, and you can unknowingly cause internal file sync conflicts. Note that iCloud is not supported, SkyDrive and Google Drive seem to cause issues no matter how careful you are, and others are less frequently used so that it’s hard to know if Scrivener will have issues with them. Dropbox is the only service I know FOR SURE can handle Scrivener’s methods for autosaving (not the backups, but saving every change when you pause).

If you don’t use dropbox, or if you are uneasy about all this syncing business, then I’d use .zip backups as my source for syncing projects, and edit un-compressed copies outside of the sync folders.

For the record, I edit my projects directly in my Dropbox folder, and have had 2 issues with sync conflicts, one of which I didn’t notice until months later. Turned out not to have been a significant enough problem to affect me.

Gosh, that’s so helpful, Robert. I read your kind reply once, slowly, and plan to read it again now. Each sentence has a point. Thanks so much for taking the time to help me, a new Scrivner user.

As I am taking Gwen’s online course in two weeks, when this saving subject comes up, I will be able to speak intelligently about it and ask appropriate questions. I do have Scrivener For Dummies by Ms. Hernandez, and while a great resource, it truly does slight over (IMHO) this crucial distinction of backup/save functions. It’s there, just not in any detail. Of course, if I find out any major tips from her, I will post here and PM you, as such.

No further questions: the student puts down hand, satisfied with answer from professor. :slight_smile:

Shout out to you in St. Louis, btw, from me about 35 miles west of Chicago. Warmer weather coming next week, Robert.

Thank you, all. Sven … -organised

Just when I think I understand it all, I read something like this stickie from KB, and everything I learned just goes out the window like a lost canary.

The section on Organizing Live Projects, and then the section on Backups (esp. between two computers) appears to say that working from automatically dated (by Scrivener) .zip files seem not to be advised, and, should one want to use the .zip, they’ll not only have to rename it (take off the date, or else every day’s new work will have this old date), but they’ll have to move it to a new location to open it.

From KB: No matter where you store your working projects (as opposed to the backups of those projects), you can employ a routine to help keep confusion at bay. I have three rules that I follow:
Keep backups stored in a separate location from the working files
If a project file doesn’t have a datestamp, then it is a working project.
I never open a dated project unless the main working project needs to be restored from a backup

In addition, the answers given to my original question above was acceptable, but totally dependent on third-party DropBox. Not ideal. The scenarios mentioned in forum threads seem inordinately dependent on a cloud storage when, in reality, many like to work from hardware (e.g flash) and use the clouds only as a “dump” backup in wi-fi zones.

Okay, revise my initial question on this thread: can there be any means to make this entire jumbled storage scenario–both one computer or for those that work between two or more computers, .zip files, .scriv files, etc.–easier and more streamlined. There has to be a way to automatically user set, once and for all, a method that will just BackUp a storage file, and Save and Re-open a Working File, with or without Dropbox, with little or no thought or effort, right?

This would seem particularly important given that Scrivener will soon be on iPad and other remote devices, so one may be working from remote device, plus a computer at home, plus a computer at work, plus a laptop used at the park where there’s no wi-fi, etc.

I think Robert’s point about all the people with “lost work” (several threads complaining of it on this Forum alone) being from inappropriate Saves/BackUps and Working Files is accurate. So, this is a common issue.

KB, others, please help. :laughing: :smiley: :slight_smile:

Frustrated Sven

Hi Frustrated Sven,

Of course, nothing’s perfect. But I think an answer that is more or less automatic and that gives reasonable protection is pretty simple:

  • keep the working copy of your project on your computer: Scrivener should automatically save your work frequently and regularly - I think the default (set in Scrivener’s Preferences) is every two minutes.

  • direct your zipped back-ups to the Dropbox folder on your computer (again set in Scrivener’s Preferences). Back-up automatically on closure - and close your project at the end of sessions.

  • keep a local, external back-up of everything on your computer: I keep two, a ‘versioned’ copy via Time Machine and a clone of my hard-disk via SuperDuper, both automatic and both on partitions of an external hard disk which I rotate to another location every six weeks or so. (From either of these, your work in Scrivener could be retrieved.)

Very easy, and, if you have items of high financial and/or sentimental value on your computer, worthwhile in cost/benefit terms.

I guess you could drop Dropbox from the package - there are other more or less similar services that could replace it, although beware those that L&L warns against - but with a set-up something like the one above you would be pretty well protected.

Thank, Hugh.

Question: how do you open a working file from a second computer? (KB’s advice is to NOT work from a .zip file).

Thanks, Sven

I maintain that the BackUp and Save As process needs to be refined, simplified, and made more transparent. This is evident, based on research on this topic that I did just today. From Scrivener for Dummies author, Gwen Hernandez’s own website, where (now that I see it), even she emphasizes that one make a second backup, which must be done manually, and this is important. Her exact words (in link below):

– If you want to back up to two locations (something I highly recommend), you’ll have to do one of them manually. Or use another automated service like Time Machine, Carbonite, or CrashPlan.

So, my original notion of this thread, an autobackup/autosave to two locations seems to be a good one, and one without resolution yet in Scrivener (especially if one eliminates any cloud from the equation). An autobackup to a flashdrive and the computer’s hard drive, simultaneously, for instance, would be welcome. … vener-2-x/

I will add that, reviewing the Comments to the Hernandez post above (and I suggest anyone who has questions about the Backup and Save process do read them), there remains mass confusion about Backups versus Saves, where they are located, etc. People opening backups to find empty folder, etc. Even Mrs. Hernandez’s reply uses, based on this Forum, mixed nomenclature. Mrs. Hernandez:

[i]Auto-save means that changes you make to your project (e.g. typing text, applying a Label value, importing a research file, renaming a document) are saved. We’re just talking about saving your work in the original project file. So if the power goes out or your laptop battery dies, you won’t lose all of your hard work.

A backup is a copy of the original (working) file. So, it’s a separate copy of your project that reflects everything you had done up until the backup was made. This is the file that should be saved somewhere different from the original project (like a flash drive, external drive, online drive), so that if your original is lost, destroyed, or goofed up by you somehow, you have a backup copy to provide you with a starting point. [/i]

Very confusing use of the words “working file”, “original file”, “project”, “separate copy”, etc. Not a fault of Mrs. Hernandez (who may be using the terminology properly and most on this Forum are using it incorrectly), but of the complexity of Scrivener in this regard.

So, my wish is: The nomenclature becomes better defined in both Automatic and Manual Backup/Save Systems within Scrivener. The Save, Backup and Retrieval system should be easier to conceptualize, less prone to user error, allow autosaves in more than one location, and be more reliably user-friendly for the moderately-computer savvy author.

–Sven 8)

One suggestion, since to most computer users, Backup and Saves mean the same thing: call them Core copy (the entire core project, zipped and secure) and Working copy (the working copy for the day), and make it clear which one a writer is using. (might avoid the lost work dilemma that is common on this forum and blog comment threads, like Gwens).