Back Up File Names, Also List of All Projects

Some more questions about minor functions which I have as a newcomer.

This is about back up names and location of a main project file.

  1. Scrivener is now backing up several copies to projects (and I am able to open the Zip back ups), but each time it backs up, it extends the name of the file with a long and hard for a US citizen to understand date stamp. So now all my titles have these long strings of numbers . . .
    It’s very hard to decipher and grows longer for each back up. I’m not even sure our file managers could support such a long file name.
    But if there is not a date added automatically (when in auto back up mode), how then are writers keeping track of their back up versions?

  2. When I go into Scrivener and I want to find my projects, I can only see the last 5 projects (under recents). Is there a list of Scrivener projects somewhere on the program?
    Also where is the main project stored? Is it the latest back up?

Thank you. I’m looking forward to the tech people coming back from vacation. :slight_smile:


US dates sort horribly, which is why we are using the more sort-friendly ISO 8601 standard of year-month-day. That aside, I have no idea why your backup files are appending dates upon dates upon dates. Maybe your .zip extraction software is adding that? If I just use Explorer to view the contents of the .zip, the top level folder is the project, and it has the original (non-date stamped) name. So if I drag it out to restore the backup and start working on it, I end up with the same project name I had originally.

So I don’t know how that is happening. Posting the steps you take in precise order might help, going from a new blank project called “Test” to a project called “Test blahblahblah” with a bunch of date stamps on it.

I’m not sure how others do it, but frankly I don’t. I let Scrivener handle the automatic backups in its own fashion and largely forget it exists until I need it, which is fairly rare. Now I make my own backups as well, using File/Back Up/Back Up To..., and stash those in a separate location from the rotating backup. I keep track of those in my own way though with my own filename conventions.

I would not consider the rotating automatic backup as your real backup. That’s more like a heavy duty undo button. Since older projects are rolled off and deleted, it’s not good for archival under its default settings. You could set it to never delete old backups if you wanted, that would help.

No, that’s not the kind of program it is. It’s more like Photoshop or Word. You keep track of the data and use the software to open it when you need it. If you want a list of all your projects, searching in Windows for folders with “.scriv” in them should suffice.

There is no concept of a “main project”, you must mean whatever you were working on last? Under default settings it will open the last project you were working on, but that’s all it is. It will be wherever you saved the project when you created it.

Hi Amber,
Your advice to do one’s own back up and not rely on the automatic back ups makes sense. (I just posted about one investigation). The way I solved the long dates was that I just unchecked the date option in preferences. It’s not necessary, I discovered, as Scrivener will still number the files in a shorter fashion.

I’m just trying to learn my way here as back ups are, of course, really important. It was nice this evening as I was making the dummy folder with my imported files that just before I deleted my files (I had about 50 short pieces of writing) I saw all of this writing organized in outline view and I saw how helpful Scrivener can be for a writer’s process.
It is different from even some of the best file management systems (such as Opus). It offers many more possibilities which connect with the way writers think and work with their material.


I happen to use the date stamp, because I’m used to it, but you can also select View > Details (on Windows Vista and up, this may be more easily accessed from the icon button on the right of the toolbar) and click the “Date modified” column header to sort your backups chronologically.

It sounds like you’ve got backups more worked out now, so this may not be any issue any longer, but your description of how the file name was growing, appending additional date stamps, sounds a bit like you may be working in a backup file and then creating a new backup from that. I’ve seen a couple cases where users did this and got pretty nasty files names. Names aside, though, you want to avoid this since working in a backup means you no longer have a pristine backup to revert to if necessary and, in the case of automatic backups, it’s conceivable you could get yourself in a situation where you’re working in a backup that gets rolled off the list (should you end up opening another copy of the project with the same title and then get backups from that pushing off your other version). I hasten to say it’s rather complicated to get into a problem like that, but you can avoid it entirely by always being sure to copy your backup file from the Backups folder before opening it in Scrivener. If you’re backing up as zip files, you can open the zip in place and then drag the contained project .scriv folder to a new location (e.g. in your Documents folder), since that act of extracting the project is essentially making a copy; you can’t edit the zipped version.

Also, to answer your question about the “main project”, in case Ioa’s answer didn’t cover it, when you first create a project, you choose a location to save it. By default this is in your user Documents folder, but you can choose somewhere else. Whenever you open and work in the project, then, you’re editing that copy of the project; all changes are saved there, etc. Backups that you make, whether manual or automatic, are copies saved in other locations but aren’t touched again by Scrivener unless you go and access that backup to open it specifically. This is different from using Save As, which, as in other programs, saves a new copy of the project and also makes that new copy the new working version. So there, you’re working in project A and choose File > Save As and create a new copy Project B, you are now working in Project B and all further changes are saved to Project B. In the case of backups, if you’re in project A and back it up as Project Backup, you’re still working in the original Project A.

I hope that helps a bit! (I’m about to fall asleep on the keyboard, so if that actually just muddled everything further, I sincerely apologise…)