Content Disappearing

Some of the sections in a project I have been working on have unaccountably disappeared. When I open the project the binder section icons to the left indicate there is content, but when I click on the section there is nothing there (and then the writing on the icons disappear.)

I use dropbox so I thought there might be a synchronization problem, but when I opened an older project not linked to dropbox some of the sections in that project had also disappeared. I tried to open the project on another computer with Scrivener but get a “could not be opened” message that says no binder.scrivproj file could be found. Please, any advice??

What you are describing does sound as though the original source files were removed without Scrivener’s knowledge. The icon graphic is determined based on the search index for reasons of performance. Scrivener doesn’t open and close every single item in the project when you load it (that would take a long time in some projects), but rather depends upon a central search index to rapidly locate which files have content and of what types. This index is updated whenever you click on something, loading it from the disk. So in this case, if the source file was renamed or removed, Scrivener would go looking for it, find nothing, and update the index accordingly, “fixing” the icon.

So that’s roughly what is happening, not really an answer to how it got that way in the first place. Synchronisation errors are usually what cause problems like this, but there are rare cases where other systems are at fault. Software that purports the keep your Mac “clean” has been known to damage projects by moving old pieces out of it.

If you right-click on the project in Finder (with the project closed) and choose “Show Package Contents”, do you see evidence of Dropbox conflicts in any of the projects?

Usually the easiest thing to do is roll back to the previous backup. Hopefully there is a recent one in the automatic backup folder. There are instructions for restoration in 7.8.4 (pg. 67–9) in the user manual. If this problem has been around for a while though, the older backups may also present this problem. Do you use Time Machine? If the missing sections are all quite old, you could perhaps resurrect an old version of the project and merge the missing sections back in.

That mainly means there isn’t enough of the project left for Scrivener to successfully open it. I’m curious what was used to transfer the project from one computer to another. You wouldn’t ordinarily see one machine fail to open a project while another opens it fine. Are both computers up to date? Are the projects stored on a volatile medium like Flash thumb drives?

Thanks for the reply. But this is distressing, as I had just done an extensive edit to my project that was backed up other than in drop box. But drop box has now backed-up the corrupted document.

I don’t use any clean-up software, so that’s not at fault. I wasn’t using Scrivener at the time. My project was fine yesterday and today when I opened it I found that content had disappeared from several of my projects (even a closed one I haven’t used for a year).

To open the document on another computer I simply used drop box. Both computers are up-to-date.

Do you recommend other steps I might take with Scrivener? Beyond my lost content, I can’t use Scrivener again until I know that content won’t suddenly disappear without explanation.

There isn’t going to be much you can do from within Scrivener, if that is what you mean. Generally speaking, if files have vanished for whatever reason, client software isn’t going to help you here. A comparison you can think of is if a .docx file goes missing, you wouldn’t be able to much about that from within Word.

Of course I’m not ruling out that Scrivener is the culprit, but it would be very unusual if that is what happened, and I would wary of just not using Scrivener as a solution, as the source for the problem could very well remain unresolved. In your shoes, if I suddenly had files vanishing like this, my first reaction would be to immediately perform a full hard drive mirror backup and then proceed with diagnostic and repair steps, and if extensive problems are found, I may even reformat and restore using a Time Machine backup (doing another diagnostic sweep afterwards to make sure the problem did not replicate).

That you are using Dropbox may in fact be of benefit, because it stores deleted files as well as recent changes. Fully restoring a Scrivener project this way, through the Dropbox website, is a tedious task, but if it does have the only record of that data, it would be worth it.

Thanks for this advice, I really appreciate it! May have found a way to recover some of my material from dropbox.