Cannot open project

Yesterday I, like usually, closed my scrivener project and today I tried to open it on another computer. I got a message, that the project is either open on another computer, or sis not shut down properly. The other computer was off at that time. Since then I cannot open the project on both computers, as Scrivener crashes when I try to. Cannot even create a new project and import this one - Scrivener crashes. Never got any error message. Tried to create a copy and open it.
The only solution I found on internet was to delete duplicite scriv files, but I have none.
The last backup cannot be opened as well. The other one does not contain my work from weekend.
How to solve this?

Depending on your backup settings, Scrivener may be deleting your oldest backup every time you try to open your project. You should copy all of your backups from the backup folder into some other folder immediately, then see if any of them have your work from the weekend. (Since you are working on multiple PCs, do this on both of them.)

Are you leaving Scrivener open for days at a time? If so, this is not best practice, as Scrivener default is to only take a backup when you close the program.

Because you mentioned multiple PCs, sounds like you are working off a cloud service. Which one?

There is one and it crashes Scrivener when I try to open it.

I don’t, since I switch between computers every day.

The service is owncloud (institutional). Moving the project to Dropbox did not help, and other projects worked perfectly when stored on owncloud.

I am not sure how you can have only one Scrivener backup, as the minimum retention setting in Scrivener is three. Are you sure that you are looking in the correct folder? You would know the backup folder by going to Tools > Options > Backup > Backup Location. You may want to open one of your other projects that works and check this setting, as it applies to all projects under the same Windows User. Please check on both PCs.

Do you have any version of your problem project that will open, even if it is old? If not, and you don’t have any working backups–even old ones–then you are officially in “try to salvage the entire project” mode.

(Although you did write “The other one does not contain my work from weekend.” I hope this means you have a working backup of the project, even if it doesn’t contain your work from the weekend.)

Read Appendix G in the manual, that will tell you the folder where your writing is actually stored, within Scrivener’s project folders. Look through the .rtf files in your corrupted project’s folders and see if you can find your missing work. Again, do this on both PCs. Hopefully you can find your writing. If you do, then one approach to recover it is to create a new project and then copy the text from the rtf files into docs in the new Scrivener project.

You may also want to email the Scrivener Windows support team directly, to see if they have any ideas.

Going forward, you should definitely educate yourself on how Scrivener’s backups work. Have a look at sections 6.3 “Saving and making copies” and 6.11 “Backing Up Your Work” and Appendix B9 “Backup” in the Scrivener manual. With Scrivener, “Backup” and “Saving” are completely different things. You really should understand how Scrivener works so you can best leverage the built-in backup process, so next time disaster strikes you don’t lose your valuable writing.

My other going forward recommendation is to use Dropbox for syncing. I am not familiar with owncloud, but Dropbox is the only cloud service “approved” for storing live Scrivener projects by Lit&Latte. You are free to you use other services, but understand that you are taking a big risk in doing so–the risk being that sometimes the sync will work, but sometimes it will not. It is highly likely that the problem you are experiencing is due to an incomplete sync. If you are against Dropbox, than it would be better for you–lower risk–NOT to use a cloud service at all, and instead, manually use your zipped backups to share projects between PCs, for example by emailing the zipped backups back and forth.

I hope you recover your work. Please let me know how it goes.


That is simple - the project was created a month ago, I opened it on Sunday, worked on it and closed it. There cannot be any more backups from last four weeks. There are some older on my other computer, but they contain only the abstract. Is it my work and not leisure writing, therefore this situation is rather uncommon, I often close and open project to create a backup during work, or create backups on my newer work computer in case something happens with the other one.

Thanks for all your advice. I posted this only after checking manual (that I read before use:) and research this problem on internet. (Nothing worked.) The owncloud service is not a free service, is it paid, but I often do backups of backups of backups, therefore I backup the project on every closing and store 5 backups on each computer and on external drive (not in the cloud; some projects have hundreds of MB and keep syncing for days).

After you mentioned the rtf files, I realized I did check only the backups, that are empty, and not the project files itself. The research is there! Thanks! I will create the project again and import it.

Since I posted this query the system on my home computer crashed two times (some problem with graphics, it often happens when I use VLC and Chrome at the same time, computer is 6 years old) - can this happen when Windows crash on saving the project and backup?

Oh, I see - makes sense!

I am so happy to hear that you didn’t lose your work. :slight_smile:

I myself have experienced and have also read posts from other users where a Windows crash has corrupted a Scrivener project. As you have found, in many instances the textual data remains intact in the .rtf files, but the main Scrivener file which contains the pointers to the various project files has lost track of some or all of them. (My non-technical explanation!)

But you had a backup that was also corrupted. If the Windows crash had occurred while you were working in Scrivener, then I wouldn’t expect Scrivener to have been able to create a backup. I could understand a corrupted backup if the sequence of events was 1) you are working in the Scrivener project and Windows crashes, 2) You reopen the Scrivener project, which is now corrupted, and 3) You close the corrupted Scrivener project and a corrupted backup is created.

One thing I wanted to point out is there is a “Backup Up Now” feature, in case you weren’t aware of it, so you don’t actually have to close Scrivener to create a backup. Depending on how unstable you feel your PC is, you may want to do that every few hours. Also, you can change Scrivener options to retain more than 5 backups at a time.

Best of luck!


the crash occured when I was not at the computer. I closed the project and went out. Windows might have crashed when it was saving the project and backups. It was a real coincidence, that I not have more backups. I mostly work at the newer computer, but it was Easter and I left it at work…