Backing up. Not clear or intuitive. Fear of loss. Cognitive dissonance!

With all the usual shame-faced apologies about being a brand new user…

I’m dying to write the book, but until I fully understand and trust the back-up system I just can’t let myself write. It’s cognitive dissonance!

I have read a lot of FAQs , and lots of complicated posts on the Scrivener forums about backing up my work, And yet…

…they are all too advanced! And in fact they they introduce more potential, worrying new pitfalls into my consciousness!

  1. exactly which back-up service is best? Is it iCloud drive? Drop Box?
  2. Why when I open my Scrivener Recent Projects does my draft show up as ‘Book’ and ALSO as ‘Book.scriv’. How on earth do I know which of these two to work on?

I’d just love someone to tell me the total rookie way to approach back up and the .scriv issue, so can let myself write without fear of loss!

With many thanks

Neither of those things is a backup service. A backup is a copy of your files that doesn’t go away when you delete the original. If you delete a file in Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, etc… then all the copies that are in the cloud or on other devices will be deleted too.

So, before I go on about the differences between syncronization services and backups, what are you trying to accomplish: Syncronize a copy of your Scrivener project to the cloud and to other computers/devices, or are you trying to create a backup that provides you copies of your work over time that you can retrieve if something goes wrong with the original?

As for the two different listings for your project in the Recent Projects list; my guess is you created a copy using File->Save As in a different folder from the original. That’s not the best way to create a copy of your project for safe-keeping. Scrivener creates and maintains a number of copies of your projects as dictated by your Scrivener settings (on Mac, look at Scrivener->Preferences->Backup for a list of options for when, where, and how many backup copies to keep).

As rdale says, Scrivener has an easy facility for keeping “backup copies” of your projects. In my case, I have Scriv set to always make a backup copy of my projects when I close them (and I have the zip option turned on, recommended). It keeps five or ten of the latest of these zipped up backup copies tucked away in a folder that I never mess with but which would be there for me in an emergency. There is nothing complicated about this.

With that built-in feature everything to do specifically with backups and Scrivener is done! Your writing will have internal backup copies for safety. And your writing project will be as safe as anything else on yiur computer — as safe as your hard drive is safe.

But I am guessing you are someone who does not backup their computer at all. Backing up your computer has nothing special to do with Scrivener, but if you have anything you care about on your computer’s hard drive (and don’t we all?), you should have a regular practice of backing up your whole hard drive. You shouldn’t put off starting your book until you get a backup strategy in place, that would be silly, but you probably should implement a backup strategy. Perhaps the simplest way to do this is to buy an external hard drive and use it to make Time Machine backups. There is nothing complicated about this either. Apple has made doing this super simple. In fact, if you plug a brand new hard dive into your Mac, first thing it will do is ask if you want to use it as a Time Machine back up drive. Some people have more elaborate backup strategies aimed at preserving their work in the face of Armageddon, but this simple one will protect you against hard drive failure and a few other things, and also give you an extra layer of peace of mind — which actually sounds like what you are in need of most.

Now, stop procrastinating and write something! You know you want to.


P.S. You may have, in your cognitive dissonance, discovered the problem with the Apple’s Recents menu facility. I advise you to use the Favorites menu instead. From the Finder, open what you know to certainly be your actual scriv project. Once it is open, “favorite it”. Now, in future, use the Favorites item on the file menu to open your project, not Recents. That’s just a better way.

I am puzzled as to why you think this is a case of cognitive dissonance, as I can’t identify the cognitions that are in conflict. But on the subject of backup, you might want to investigate Backblaze, a very useful service. And if you want to investigate Festinger and his book “When Prophecy Fails” I highly recommend it. Fascinating:

Thank you very much indeed RDALE, GR and MBBNTU for your speedy and very helpful responses. The part of my brain that refused to trust that my work is saved is now happy! At last I could start writing. And Scrivener really is a game changer! I’ve been too busy writing, and so apologies for not thanking you sooner.

About backups… Your profile says you have a Mac. Get yourself an external HD connected to your WiFi so your Mac can communicate with it, and activate Time Machine in System Settings.


Just had a vid card go on an OOOOOLLLLLLD mac book. Grabbed a spare, fired up time machine, run migration assistant, kill a couple drinks and BACK IN BUSINESS! In my case I lost a couple minutes of data due to the Time Machine sync run. I’m not going to complain.

Two issues, Scrivener backs up based on options you choose windows Tools >Options>Backup then have options when to back up— when close project, when open, how many backup and where to save and whether to use dates and automatic backup. So you can set it to back up easily

Second Issue how to protect files if computer crashes/lose data Could use dropbox, google drive etc. i use carbonite backs up all my files on computer (minus program files) for 69 dollars a year, unlimited amount. This backup is automatic, 24 hours a day. I use for scrivener, my music 120 gigs, my pictures and videos. Look at it as digital insurance. can do back up drive, but if fire in house loose everything.
I pick carbonite lots of similar services, but had computer hard drives crash and corrupt and got it all back from the cloud.