"Chapters" randomly lost text

In one of my projects, various “chapters” in various folders have lost all their text

Using Scrivener 3 on High Sierra

After a brief panic, restored from backup. But confidence in Scrivener severely dented!

Any ideas?

No, not without more info on exactly what you did, where you save your live projects, what happened, what you mean by “chapters”, etc.

First time in 10 years of using Scrivener of having any problems, let alone losing data

By “Chapters” I mean text files. Saving data in Documents, which means iCloud – Mac OS X High Sierra defaults data stored in Documents folder to iCloud, as I understand

Looking at DevonThink as an alternative

Am using Scrivener to help plan/brainstorm a radio show

Outside of accidentally opening an old version of the project, some form of cloud sync malfunction is the most common cause for problems of this nature. Scrivener looks for file inside of the project package when you click on items in the binder, and if something else (like iCloud) has moved the file or renamed it for whatever reason, then it can’t find anything and the file comes up blank. It’s really no different than if a Word file, say, is accidentally edited without syncing it—you end up with two copies maybe, or iCloud might decide one is better than the other and just replace it. It’s a little more involved with Scrivener since it uses many files instead of just one, but that’s the kind of simple problem we’re talking about here.

We have some best practices posted. Following those steps religously should avoid the kinds of scenarios that would cause the above to happen. If the sync service you use causes problems even though you are following best practices flawlessly, then that would be very good sign to re-evaluate one’s use of the system in that fashion.

And of course, always keeping a good lineage of backups is essential whenever adding the large amount of complexity that sync engines bring to file systems—as you’ve already found! Glad to hear that this safety net worked as intended in your case.

Thanks for this

I’ve chosen to store some files outside of Documents, my local website files for example, so I can access them when internet not available. Maybe need to do this Scrivener

If you have activated Documents on iCloud, the iCloud service decides what should be on your HD and only on the iCloud server. Scrivener needs everything to be in the same location, on your HD.

You need to make sure that you have the whole project, with all its subfolders and files, on your HD. Then deactivate the Documents on iCloud.
… which by the way is not activated by default. You got a question by the OS and answered Yes. That’s what caused the problem.

If you try to create a DEVONthink database in the Documents folder DT will tell you not to do this precisely because of the risk of data loss. The problem is not to do with Scrivener, it is down to the way the Documents folder works.

Unfortunately, it’s not always the case that enabling Desktop & Documents has been done by user decision.There’s numerous reports of this on support forums, and on my machine the feature’s been involuntarily enabled in a user account twice after separate 10.12 point updates. The account where it’s happened is seldom used and had only the stock macOS Apps installed.

So after any update and in each user account, I check at––System Preferences > iCloud > iCloud Drive > Options. Make sure that Desktop & Documents is actually set to your preferred setting.

Although not being discussed in this thread but equally important, I do the same for the Optimize Storage feature at the same path but at the bottom of panel––Optimize Mac Storage.

Thanks for all the comments

Have now deactivated Documents on iCloud. First major problem in nearly a year, but one is enough!

Goodness yes! Optimize Mac Storage is a data debacle waiting to happen.

For the uninitiated, that feature allows Mac OS to “save” disk space by storing data only in the cloud, downloading it to the local system only when needed.

As a general rule, this is idiotic for a desktop machine, because local disk space will always be cheaper and faster than cloud storage. For Scrivener specifically, it’s a disaster, and almost guaranteed to cause exactly the kind of problem you are seeing.


Thanks Katherine. Turned this off too!