Corrupt scriveners won't open on new hard drive

Hi there.

Really hope someone out there can help me. A few days ago, my hard drive crashed while I had Scrivener opened. I did everything I could to retrieve anything off of it, but Drive Savers couldn’t even help me. I plugged my external hard drive in to load everything back onto my laptop, let it do its thing, and then when I redownloaded Scrivener and tried to open my document from the external hard drive, it said the file could not be opened because it might be missing or corrupt.

Can anyone help me figure this out, please? Is there a way to access that file so that I can try to save at least some of my writing?

I’m pretty desperate.

Is it possible that my old hard drive breaking totally destroyed the entire file, even though it was sitting on an external hard drive? Does that poison my entire Scrivener account???

Thanks ahead of time.

Any chance that you have existing backups elsewhere that you could resume with… other drive, USB thumb drive, CD/DVD, cloud service such as DropBox? If not, get into the routine of producing amd testimg such frequently. Be paranoid. You can find discussions of backup strategies here in the forums and elsewhere.

If not…

Short/safe version:

Longer/adventurous version (pursue at your own risk):

First, I would suggest that you:

  • Make sure you create backup copies of the corrupted project before attempting to do anything else with it… Backups produced via backup software and/or manual copies you make, using OS X’s file explorer (Finder?) or other manual copy procedure or tool, rather than made from within Scrivener (as you can’t get the project in question open in order to back it up via Scrivener). If you try any of the following, do so with one of these backup copies, not the original.
  • Email tech support as discussed in

While waiting, the following might help in digging into salvaging the corrupted project…

A Scrivener project is not a single individual file, but rather a folder (name ending in .scriv) that contains subfolders and numerous files. On Mac OS X, this is concealed, with the project folder being treated as a “package”, presented to the user as though it is a single thing, with the internals hidden. On PC Windows, this is not concealed.

The fact that Scrivener cannot open a project tends to be indicative that something within the project folder has been corrupted, rather than that the entire contents have been lost. Hard drive failures, cloud synchronization issues, etc. can cause such situations.

A Scrivener project folder contains, among other things:

  • Many numerically named document .RTF files (down in the Files\Docs subfolder)
  • An index file (name ending in .scrivx, with full name being something like YOURPROJECTNAME.scrivx) in XML text format that ties the meaningful names (Title) documents have in the binder to their actual .RTF files (ID) numerical names.
  • A search index file (down in the Files subfolder) in XML text format that contains Title, ID, and full plain text copy of the text from all the .RTF document files.

The contents of the document .RTF (rich text format) files can be viewed in some word processors and text editors.

The structured contents of the index files (in XML text format) are best viewed in XML-aware text editors. The one I’m familiar with is UltraEdit, available for OS X and Windows, for which a free full featured time limited evaluation copy is available for download. There are likely free XML-aware text editors available.

The files and editors mentioned should provide the ability to poke around (in one of the backup copies) in the corrupted project, get a sense of structure, and extract .RTF files or text with which to salvage or reconstruct the project.

For more on this in general, and how to get at the hidden project package contents on Mac OS X, search the forums (via search field in upper right hand corner) on “salvage package” and “salvage rtf”, and review the threads turned up.

I hope the above is of some assistance, and more help than hurt.

What version of Scrivener was on the defunct drive and what version is on the new one? This can bring up such alerts if the defunct drive didn’t have the latest version.