Computer crashed, Autosave on, 2+ days of work gone

Hi, I recently installed Scrivener 3 and started using it for a book project. It is set to autosave after 2 seconds of inactivity. Apparently the last time I closed the program and did a full backup was 7/1, but I stayed in the entire holiday weekend and wrote. On Monday, my computer battery was low and I plugged it in, but it turns out I plugged it into an unpowered receptacle and the computer died. No worries; I powered it back on–only to find that everything I had worked on on Monday and Sunday (and possibly Saturday, but I think at least part of Saturday is there) is gone. It was a new text file of several thousand words, one that I had closed and reopened it several times over those days as I moved between files and documents, all without issue.

On reopening, Scrivener created a file that it called “recovered,” but the file was empty. I looked at RTF files in my Scrivener folder, but I couldn’t find the document. I am currently with a family member who does forensic computer work for a living, and he mirrored my hard drive but couldn’t find it either. I wrote to Scrivener and got what I think was a bot reply–I’ve tried to engage several times but haven’t heard back.

Needless to say, all of this was a major gut-punch and a real problem given the tight timeline that I am on. But now I am wondering if I should be using Scrivener at all, or only use it for file management, not writing. (Which would be a huge bummer, because I really like the composition mode.) I have only been using Scrivener 3 for a few weeks and it’s already set me back days on my project (due in a month, so not insignificant). Has anyone found a way to belt-and-suspenders the program’s obviously inadequate autosave function so that your work is actually saved–something that doesn’t require pausing to do a full backup every few minutes? Is this a known bug on the Windows software that can be fixed?

Thanks for any advice.

I have this same problem. It has been autosaving ever two secs, but then the past 10k words were gone when I opened it this morning. My deadline is next week and recreating those 30 pages will probably push me back to MS Word.

I found my text, and I hope you can do the same. I am super tech-stupid, so I can’t fathom how this worked, but it seems like Scrivener was pulling the project from the backup file, not the auto-saved files. I don’t know, I’m only guessing, because when i found the autosaved files, my last few days of work was there.

I found this help at TYPICAL URL LINK PREFACE HERE mombehindthecurtain. COM/where-does-scrivener-save-files/

Designating Where Scrivener for Windows Saves Your Working Copies

  1. From the toolbar choose File > New Project… > Blank (or Fiction, etc.)

  2. To the right of “Where:” choose “Browse” and find where you want to save your Scrivener projects.

By following those two tips, I found where the files were being saved, opened the folder, went into the docs, sorted them by date, and POOF, my last few days’ work were all there!

Best of luck, hope this helps!

I don’t have a clever idea to find the missing file, but I have some ideas that might help in the future.
It sounds like you don’t close Scrivener very often. A way to force additional fall-back backups (those .zips in the backup folder) is to turn on “Back up with each manual save.” I’d increase retain backup files to 10 most recent. Lastly, use CTRL-S every time you walk away from the computer. This will force scrivener to create backups with each CTRL-S (in addition to saving whats changed in memory to disk.) Scrivener’s “autosave” is just forcing a write to disk whats changed in the computer’s memory whenver you pause every 2 seconds, which is fine as long as nothing goes wrong at the OS level. This “autosave” goes back to the same file where the text is normally stored. This can be cold comfort if that is the file that gets corrupted at the OS level (which can happen at a power loss.) I also use additional retention with dropbox and onedrive which also keep versioning of all of scrivener’s files, but since decoding a project inside the .scriv folder can be painful for a big project, I prefer to force extra backup files.


I’ve also been reminded that Scrivener has a File → Backup → Backup Now command which will manually trigger the backup system to make a copy. Trigger this every thousand words might also be an alternative safety procedure.

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Thanks, all. So I was able to locate what I’m pretty sure is the RTF file, but it’s a series of boxes that goes on for 7 pages. I do have the option to convert it–it asks me to “select the coding that makes the document readable.” Any ideas what that would be? Or is it fried?

If you can open the file correctly in Wordpad (installed by default with most windows systems) your file is probably Ok. If you’re seeing endless boxes and other junk symbols, that’s a sign of a corrupt file.

It’s most likely the .scrivx (XML) Binder file that went missing, not the text you wrote.

If you created a new document in Scrivener and wrote a ton of text into it, that RTF document should still be there in the project’s internal file structure, which you can explore until you find it. When you do, drag it into the Binder of the project after restoring from a recent backup from before the glitch. Dragging it into the Binder reestablishes it as a part of the project.