Data Recovery Options for Lost .scriv File

OK, Keith. Here I am, yet another Scrivener user who has lost a file. The whole file. The kind of loss where - based on everything that I, fellow mac users, in-store mac geniuses, etc. can find - it appears that the file never even existed. I have tried everything I can think of to recover this file short of employing data recovery software. Which actually leads me to my question: has anyone reported attempting to retrieve their lost .scriv files using data recovery software and, if so, what has been the success rate?

Also, any other suggestions? I have tried the following:

  • Multiple Spotlight searches for the file name, .scriv extension, .rtf & .rtfd extensions, etc.
  • Terminal command searches including “find” and “grep”
  • Going through every file on my hard drive with or without a .scriv extension on the off chance that the file might have somehow been saved under some random file naming protocol

And, no, I did not back up my files and feel like enough of a bonehead already so let’s just leave it at that, ok?

I don’t know if anyone has tried data recovery, I’m afraid. I should also hasten to add - although I understand your desperation - that “yet another Scrivener user who has lost a file” is a bit strong - there have been very few reported cases of this, no cause has ever been found to relate to the program itself (there is nothing malicious in the code itself that could wipe a whole file) and I have looked and looked and double-checked and triple-checked to see if there could be any cause in Scrivener itself - obviously if anything were there, I would be working night and day to fix it. And if you can help me find something that does turn out to be Scrivener, I will happily give you a refund and be very grateful to you. Thousands of users use Scrivener every day with no data loss.

I have to say all that just so that new users browsing these forums don’t panic, of course, so please don’t be offended. Now let’s work on your problem… It seems that there must be some very specific event that could cause this. Could you please provide me with as much information about what happened in the run up to you losing this file as possible, no matter how trivial it seems? Including the following:

• How did you realise the file was missing?
• When did you realise it was missing? i.e. When you went to open Scrivener after a few days of using it, after waking from sleep etc.
• Was Scrivener open or closed when the file went missing?
• Were there any errors or crashes in Scrivener or on your computer between the last time you used the file and it going missing?
• Was the file saved locally or externally?
• What have you tried to find it - exactly? (Have you tried a Spotlight search on text contained inside the project as well as the title etc?)
• What other things have you done on your computer in the time period in which the file must have gone missing?
• Do you have any services running in the background?
• Have you installed anything else, moved or deleted any files or folders?
• How large was the project?
• Did you try to use the Backup feature at any time? (I know you said that you didn’t make backups, but I’m just wondering if you tried the File > Backup To feature which used to have the only known bug that could wipe a project.)
• Is there any other information you can think of that may be relevant?

Thanks and all the best,


To address your questions one by one:

  • I found the file was missing three days ago when I opened Scrivener for the first time in three weeks. The file did not automatically open when I opened Scrivener, as it had previously done, which is when I checked the recent files listing and discovered the file was not there. I then checked the directory to which the file had been saved, same result.
  • Scrivener was closed when the file went missing
  • I have had no computer or Scrivener crashes since the file went missing
  • The file was saved locally
  • As I mentioned in my original message (please refer to this message for specifics) I have tried a number of things to recover this file, including using spotlight to search for text within the file as well as the file name itself and .scriv, .rtf, & .rtfd extensions.
  • My cat was recently diagnosed with cancer and has been recovering from surgery for the past month which is why I hadn’t been on Scrivener for so long in the first place. The only things I’ve been doing on my computer in the meantime are playing solitaire (purchased and installed when I originally bought my computer) and checking MSN for news updates.
  • I do not have any services running in the background
  • I have not installed or deleted any files but I have moved some to the trash. They are all still there. My missing file is not among them.
  • I’m not sure exactly how large the file was; I can tell you that it contained 28 character sketches which, if printed out, would probably total about 150 pages, 28 pictures representing those characters, and a number of research docs. All told this represents nearly the entire planning phase of my novel.
  • I did not attempt to use the Scrivener Backup feature.

That’s really it. I can’t think of anything else to share with you that could explain this file loss. If I had a corrupted file, I suppose I could zip it up and send it to you but I have nothing to send. If you could do some more digging around and find out if anyone has tried data recovery I would appreciate it. I would prefer not to open the $100 software I just purchased and have to buy an external hard drive in order to perform the data recovery if there is no point.