Back Up on Scrivener Different from Other Programs?

Okay, this is what my investigation has found.

I set up a dummy project folder which was then backed up via zip format onto an external drive.
I then reopened that project folder, deleted 10 files I had imported to it and then closed that folder.
Now on my back up drive I had several zip folders which said something like Dummy file. bac up 1; Dummy file, bac up 2, etc.
Then I checked the properties for the time the various files were backed up.
What I wanted to find out was if I could pull up the original dummy project folder with the ten files?
What was interesting is that all the back up files even the original were like the very last file that I had worked on (that is absent the ten files). They were all exact clones. So this kind of back up is not going to help if a writer wants to see an earlier version of a project folder.
This is good to know.


How exactly are you creating these backups? Are these the automatic backups created when you close scrivener, or are you using File->Backup->Back up to…? Another method to create copies of your project?

The reason I ask is that if you start with the project having ten documents in the binder, then trigger a backup, and then delete them and trigger a backup, the one before the deletions would contain the ten documents, but some other method might confuse the issue (like using Save As, for instance).

Hi Robert,
It’s been a few days and now I’ve forgotten (how the back ups were generated). But I will research that. I did read later in the manual that the earlier back ups are supposed to be earlier versions (not overwritten files).
I got involved in writing (which is a good thing of course) and set up back ups (besides the automatic) via back up to–a different area on external drive–and so I’m okay for right now.


Hi Melissa,

There are two features of Scrivener that may be getting confused here, so although what you describe doesn’t sound quite right, I want to clarify this first before we delve into it. Scrivener auto-saves regularly while you’re working (every two seconds of inactivity, by default); this is the in-place save that overwrites the previous state of the project. So when you first create your project, let’s say it’s ~\Documents\MyProject.scriv, when you work in the project, Scrivener is constantly saving to that location, just like if you created ~\Documents\WordFile.doc in Word and hit “Save” every time you paused your typing. The auto-save here isn’t any kind of versioning system–it doesn’t create a series of files that document the changes in your project from minute to minute. It’s just like using File > Save, but done automatically so that if something happens–computer crash, battery dies, the screen freezes and you force quit–you’ll rarely lose work since it typically won’t be that long since the project was saved.

Scrivener also has an automatic backup feature which, by default, makes a full, zipped copy of the project each time you close the project; that backup copy is saved to a secret, secure location in your user folder and kept out of the way until you have an emergency and need to restore from a backup, at which point the “Open backup folder” button in the Backup tab of Tools > Options will whisk you there to find your most recent automatic backups. (If I had my way, there would be stealth helicopters involved, too.) The automatic backups work on a rolling cycle, saving the five most recent backups of each project. So that means that at some point, after you’ve opened and closed the project enough, the oldest backup will get overwritten by a newer backup. You can change this, so that fewer or more backups are kept (or even prevent them from rolling off at all), but five is the default since it’s usually enough to give you a chance to realize there’s a horrific problem and you need to restore from a backup but not so many that it’s going to eat up all your hard drive space because you have a couple enormous projects.

Since you’re taking the time to look into all this now, I definitely recommend checking the backup settings in Options and setting it up to something you feel will suit you best. If you have a lot of space or prefer to handle removing old backups manually, bump up the number of backups saved. If you’d rather have the backup created when the project is opened rather than when closed, switch to that. You can also change the location where the backups are saved, change them to not be zip files if you prefer, and set whether the time stamp should be used in the filename. I have mine set to backup to a ScrivenerBackups folder in my Dropbox, which means that without any further work from me, my backups are saved on an external drive and in another physical location, and I zip them (which I prefer anyway because it prevents accidental editing of the backup project but also is definitely the safer way to do it with Dropbox). I also have my backup routine set to run not only when the project is closed but also whenever I manually save–I wouldn’t recommend that if you habitually hit Ctrl-S, but for me it just makes that an easy “backup” shortcut for when I’m working for a long time and have made some significant progress I want to be sure backs up.

So these backups should preserve your project state at the point they were created and shouldn’t be getting altered; however, if the backup routine runs enough times, the older ones will get deleted and be replaced by newer ones, so if you had triggered six automatic backups in the course of working, you might have caused the initial one, pre-file-deletion, to roll off. As Robert indicated, this could have also gotten compounded by working in multiple projects of the same name (for instance if you had a project called “Dummy” in your user Documents folder and another one, also called “Dummy”, on your Desktop). Since Scrivener just uses the project name to identify it when creating the backups, two projects with identical names will end up using the same set of backups. That is, you’d only ever have a combined total of five backups for the two projects rather than up to five for each, and you’d end up with backups of the one project getting pushed out by backups of the other. Key point here: Give your projects unique names, even if they’re saved in different locations.

In addition to the automatic backups, you can, and should, make your own manual backups; it sounds like you’ve already been doing this for your project using File > Back Up > Back Up To… and saving to an external drive, so there’s not much more to be said on that. These are completely separate from the automatic ones, so they don’t roll off or get touched in any way by the automatic backup routine.

Hi Jennifer
Thank you for your very detailed reply–especially clarifying the overwrite feature.
It took me awhile to get back to the forum, but that’s always a good thing as I was in my office which does not have internet access. :slight_smile: