Desperate...whole novel lost?!

Hi there,

I have been working on a novel on Scrivener for Windows for the past few years (yeah, I know…I’ve had to fit it in around a lot of other stuff…). Today, I tried to launch Scrivener as usual from the shortcut on my desktop and it said that the file could not be found and wouldn’t launch anything but the initial page which allows access to the user manuals or the possibility of a new project. At first there wasn’t even anything in the Existing Projects dropdown or the other dropdown boxes but after I restored my computer to an earlier date this did come back. I was able to get a version of my novel to launch but now its disappeared again and I am at my wit’s end trying to work out what has happened.

I am utterly desperate. I do have a version saved onto a memory stick but I am terrified in case this is lost too! I am not a techie at all and need utterly simple instructions if possible to help me. Please, please tell me all is not lost.

Thanks so much for your time and (hopefully!) your help,


Did you recently run any sort of security or clean up software that would have cleared your Most Recently Used lists? I could see that could potentially causing something like this.

Anyway if you know the file location of where you saved the novel when you created it (My Documents perhaps?) have a look there. But if not, then you’d probably better check the back up folder. Scrivener automatically makes backups every time you close it.

If you don’t know where that folder is, then from within scrivener go to Tools | Options | Backup and there’s a button called Open Backup Folder (or something like that).

In there you’ll hopefully find 5 backups of your novel. Copy those all to another safe location, and then you can open each one to find the most recent version of the novel.


Thanks for your reply. I can’t get Scrivener to launch at all so I can’t check in there for previous versions. I have looked in every document file I can find and can find what appears to be a .scriv file but when I try to open it there are just two files which are called “compile” and “ui”. When I open these they just seem to be reams of what appears to be code. My novel is definitely not there.

I have recently installed some updates but have restored the computer to before the date of them and the Scrivener stuff is still not working. I can’t even get it to launch. Only the initial screen where you can start a new project it there. Every time I try to open anything that seems Scrivener related it just says it can’t be found.

I’ll check back again tomorrow…got to be up stupid-early for work. No idea how I’ll sleep with this on my mind…years of work disappeared.

Thanks again. :neutral_face:

You should also be aware that if Scrivener is not able to find a file that is listed in its Recent queue, it drops it off the list. Is it possible that the project files you’re looking for were moved, or the drive is inaccessible?

I run into this not infrequently. I start Scrivener and there’s nothing in the list cos the drive was not available. After closing Scrivener (that is, not opening anything and dismissing it), and connecting the drive, everything is good.


I hope you find your work. :cry:

From that screen, start a new project - Just use the blank template, or whatever, doesn’t matter. Call it Test, or whatever you like (just NOT whatever your novel was called), and save it on your desktop (or where ever, it doesn’t really matter).

Now Scriv should open and you’ll have access to the menus. Go to Tools | Options | Backup and try that Open Backup Folder button. ← the names are something like that anyway, I’m on the mac and working from memory.

In that folder do you see backups of your work? They may be zipped, maybe not, I forget what the default is. If they’re there, like I said, make a copy of each and put them somewhere safe.

Now close Scriv and if you want you can delete that test project you just made - that was just to get you access to the menus.

Now with the copies of the backups, unzip them if necessary and see if you can open them. The most recent (or possibly second most recent) should have the latest version of the novel.

If you didn’t move or somehow delete all your project folders, try using the file browser’s search function to find all “.scrivx” files–be sure to select your documents folder before starting the search.

These .scrivx files are what you double-click on to open a project, though they may all just be named “project.scrivx”. The folder they are contained in (which ends in “.scriv”) will be named for the project however.

Highly doubtful at this point.

Do what Robert D. Guthrie suggested. If you don’t know what he’s talking about, just say so and one of us will walk you through it step by step.

And above all, do as the Hitchhiker’s Guide said: DON’T PANIC

Your work is still there, it’s just your lack of familiarity with the underpinnings of Windows that makes it hard for you to find it.

Chin up, eh! :smiley: Everything will be sorted out in a few days.

Hi guys,

First of all, thank you so much for your kind help and your time. You’ve made me feel that all is not lost!

I have tried Robert’s search for the .scrivx files but not had success with that. I tried SarsenLintel’s process which has worked in that I can see backup files in Scrivener of my work. I have saved a couple of the most likely candidates to my desktop but unfortunately have been unable to open them.

I’m getting a message box which says “Cannot access (followed by the file name). File is not writable. Access is denied.Auto-save needs write permission to your project.”

I am stuck! Please help, kind masters of Scriv!

Suz :confused:

It’s probably still zipped (compressed). So you need to unzip (extract) the contents.

Right click on the folder and pick Extract All.

More info: … ng-project

:smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Can you tell how happy I am? Thanks so much, SarsenLintel, for all your help. It seems that you have made a dream come true and my novel appears to be restored and accessible in Scrivener! I have also saved it one billion times externally to avoid the merest inkling of a possibility of this happening again. Providing I don’t completely mess things up again, I am looking to publish in the next few months (although some bits will have to be rewritten). You will, of course, be ackowledged as my saviour. (Don’t hold your breath though…we’re hardly talking J K Rowling sales figures!)

Thanks again. You’ve been amazing! :smiley:

Suz xx

Glad you got it sorted. :slight_smile:

One note in case you’re not aware - when you’re saving your billion copies, it’s probably better to use the File | Back Up | Back Up To option rather than File | Save As…

Lots of people have cases of work that’s apparently disappeared when they’ve used Save As. Say you’ve typed 1000 words, then done File | Save As to make a copy. Scrivener makes the copy, but then from that point forth you are working inside the new copy and not in the original project. So then maybe you type another 1000 words and then shut down for the night.

Next day you come back and launch scrivener from the shortcut to the original project on your desktop, and “ARGH, ALL MY NEW WORK"S BEEN LOST!!!” It’s not lost, it’s just inside that copy you made, but now you’re back in the original project.

So the best way to avoid all that is to just ignore the existence of File | Save As, and use File | Back Up | Back Up To. And as a bonus to doing it that you you have the option of having the backup zipped and automatically timestamped.

Also, if you use a cloud service (like Cubby*, Dropbox, Box, Sugarsync, etc) and have Scrivener’s automatic backup feature turned on, then you can set up Scrivener to save the backup to a cloud synced folder. That way, every time you close Scrivener, you not only get an automatic backup, but you also get it saved off-site. :slight_smile:

[size=85]*Personally, I like Cubby and think it is the most user friendly of the bunch (with a few unique features as well). If anyone is considering trialling, feel free to send me a PM and ask for an invitation.
Note: you don’t need an invitation—you can simply go to the website & sign up—but it does earn the person sending the invitation an extra gigabyte of free storage. I keep forgetting to plug this aspect of Cubby (not just for the personal benefit to me, but also because you can invite others also). [/size]

Thanks Nom,

I have thought of something like Dropbox but Cubby sounds good too. I am such a technophobe - more suited to writing with a quill and parchment than a laptop (never mind a tablet). Is Cubby easy to use? Since my recent disaster I am terrified of losing the whole thing again so any offsite storage will have to convince me of its utter simplicity of use as well as its integrity and safety. :confused:

I am still having trouble loading the novel from Scrivener. It’s basically not working properly at all and I have decided, since I’m so close to the end of the work, that I’m just going to work from the version saved to my memory stick and start afresh with Scrivener next time. It means a bit of rewriting but this is my first attempt at a novel and I’m not in a massive rush to finish - I’m just enjoying learning about the process (and unexpectedly learning a little about IT along the way).

I’m interested to learn about Cubby though, if you can spare me a few minutes to explain. :smiley:


Suz x

Ooh, thanks again SarsenLintel.

I have learned more about IT from you in the last few days than I have in the previous 47 years of my life!

I am still terrified and nervous about every save/backup but you are slowly restoring my faith in Scrivener. I am, as I said above, just saving it to my memory stick at present but I am taking on board everything you tell me for future reference.

Thanks again for your time and unending patience. It is so appreciated. :smiley:

Suz x

Hi Suz,

I too would recommend Cubby (Thank you to Nom for putting me onto it a couple of years ago!) and it is very easy to use. From your last comment I presume you and Nom have been PM’ing each other in the meantime, so I hope you’re up and running.

But just to make a point — as much for anyone else who comes to this thread as they have had a similar experience to yours — if I remember rightly, there have been previous threads in which posters have mentioned having problems with SugarSync and Scrivener. I hope I’m wrong, but I do know that both Dropbox and Cubby have been rock-solid for me, with the usual caveats about letting them complete the sync’ing process before shutting down your computer.


Mr X

Cubby is, in my opinion, the easiest of all the cloud services to set up and use. Case in point: It is what my wife and I use to share files. This is important because, although my wife is infinitely more talented than me in almost all things, she hates technology. She loves Cubby.

To use Cubby: sign up on the Cubby website, install the app on your computer (Windows or Mac), start the program and log in. You have now set up Cubby on your computer.

To sync your back up files to the cloud, set up Scrivener to create backups whenever you quit and set the back up folder to be unique (I.e. used only for Scrivener backups). Because I’m not on my computer, I’ll leave others to explain this step by step.

The last step is easiest of all: Drag your Scrivener backup folder into the bottom of the Cubby window. It will now automatically sync online every time you quit Scrivener! :slight_smile:

Note: this is a much safer option than using a USB stick. If you lose the stick, or it gets corrupted, you lose everything! :open_mouth:

Feel to PM me if you want assistance with Cubby, although be aware that my timezone (Australia) might mean there’s a delay before I respond. Having said that, the inestimable Mr X is probably more knowledgeable than I on using Cubby with Scrivener.

Although Scrivener is a complex and powerful program, the heart of it is actually quite simple: binder on the left to show your structure, editor on the right to show your words. It is vastly superior to Word for writing long-form projects like novels. If you describe what you mean by Scrivener “not working properly” then I can almost guarantee that a number of people here will help you sort it out.

Hi Mr X,

Thanks for your advice. I haven’t had chance to get Cubby going yet due to pesky work commitments but I am hoping to have a crack at it this weekend.

I’m so glad I asked the question on this forum though, everyone is so friendly and helpful. It’s like having a Scrivener safety net beneath me as I bumble along.

Thank again. Have a great week.

Suz :smiley: :smiley: