Blank text documents -- what could be causing this?

This morning I discovered over half my novel is missing. A bunch of text documents within the novel’s folder are blank. Index cards and note files associated with them are also blank in many cases. I was not able to recover them via the backups either, which may be because I shut down and restarted my computer after discovering the missing documents.

As far as I know my Scrivener files aren’t synced to a second computer.

What’s really weird is that even my saves of the project from two days ago, when I could see all the documents, are missing documents now. I really don’t understand this. Does it mean Scrivener lost my document when I was saving them two days ago, even though I was able to see and access them on the screen at the time?

I’m anxious to get to the bottom of what could be causing this. I lost the most recent revisions of over 60,000 words of my novel. This only a week after purchasing Scrivener for Windows. Needless to say, if I can’t find a way to fix this issue, I will not be using it in the future. :cry:

I’m so very sorry that you’ve lost work. There are a few things to try for restoring the project (copied and slightly modified from another post where a user had a sync problem, but these suggestions still apply in your case):

  • Automatic backups–You said you had a backup that was blank, possibly due to the computer restart, but I wanted to mention these in case you were referring to a separate backup you’d made. With the default settings, Scrivener saves up to five backups of your project (created when the project is closed), so if you haven’t checked these, that’s the first go-to. You can access the backups folder via the button in the Backup tab of Tools > Options. I’d copy out all the backups for each of the two projects and put them in another location to keep them safe while you go through them to see if any are worth restoring, to prevent the older ones rolling off from opening and closing the project and its backups of the same name. (You can exclude projects from the backup routine using File > Back Up > Exclude from Automatic Backups, so if you’re just opening and closing backup projects to check them out, set that before closing.)

  • On Vista and up, Windows has its own file versioning system which may let you restore an earlier version of the Scrivener project folder and its contents (or some of the files individually, though the whole folder is probably easier), so it’s another potential option. Microsoft’s support page on this for Vista is here; you can easily search for the appropriate OS version there. I’d make a copy of your project folder first before restoring an earlier version; that way if you have newer work in there you will be able to drag it back into the restored project or otherwise use it as a reference to bring the restored version up to speed.

I’d also take a look into your project folder’s Files\Docs folder and check whether it contains a bunch of numbered text documents. If these are missing, or if they are otherwise named, that could help determine what caused the problem and, potentially, another way to fix it.

Moving your project while it’s open can cause this sort of problem; in that case, you’d likely have two versions of the project saved on your computer, one at the new location and one at the old, with some files in each. You can try using the Windows search to look for the project name or the project folder’s “.scriv” extension to find all the Scrivener projects on your computer and see if there are any duplicates. If this has happened, we can work to merge the files back into a single project.

Along those lines, I’d also suggest upgrading to 1.5.3 if you haven’t already. In addition to other enhancements, the new version better detects if project files are open in Scrivener to help prevent accidentally moving it in Windows Explorer.