Disappearing content!

Please, someone help me. I’m working on a project (that I’ve worked on for years) and suddenly I’m finding files going missing. Scenes going blank. Additionally, I’m getting an error message when I open a project but after clicking OK it opens anyway. The missing scenes are not just ones I’m making new changes to, it seems random. Even my title page went blank! I’m freaking out, please someone tell me it’s not all lost. I’ll try to attach a screenshot of my binder where you can see blank pages in the list of scenes.

Is this happening to anyone else??

Have you opened old-to-recent backups to see if the files within are missing this content?

I don’t know where the backups are even stored. ? I see it ‘creating backup’ whenever I close a project but I don’t see that in the project folder.

Dropbox is my default location but nothing there says “backup” and actually, I didn’t shut the project down until after I noticed content go missing. In dropbox, I tried to restore the file from yesterday and that made it worse. It opened with ALL content gone. And of course the way Scrivener is designed, that copy will save over the previous one if I close it down. And I can’t undo my restore in dropbox. I have a different copy/project that I created in my Documents folder before trying the restore though. I’m also getting template errors when I open some of my projects. This morning I updated Scrivener hoping that would help but it didn’t. Now I have multiple projects with varying differences and am in a big mess, still missing the scenes I originally was. I did compile earlier today before anything else could go missing.

I found a backup in dropbox and opened it. Totally empty.

Restoring a live project from Dropbox’s history can be tricky, because it deals with files individually, and a Scrivener project is made up of potentially hundreds of files and folders that all need to be kept in sync with one another in order to function properly. Not to say it can’t be done–happily, it can be, and Dropbox’s version history has come to the rescue more than once after a weird sync glitch (or a fabulous case of user error I committed once…)–but it can take some work piecing everything back together so that your files are in place and loading properly again.

Scrivener constantly saves some of the project files from the point when the project is opened, in order to keep all the pieces organised and up to date, so to a certain extent the project is already being changed on the disk from open, not just close. On the other hand, files that aren’t touched during the session won’t be saved, since nothing changed in them. If you’re looking at the Dropbox history, for instance, you may have a most recent version of some files that’s much older than others simply because that file hasn’t been edited in a while.

In general though, this where backups come in. Scrivener’s default settings are to make a backup on project close, so if the project is later opened and saves unwanted changes, you can restore from the backup. Section 7.11 of the user manual gives details on the automatic backups and configuring them to best suit your workstyle. Definitely if you’re not closing Scrivener regularly, you’ll want to be manually backing up consistently or set the auto-backup routine to trigger when you use Ctrl+S. I’d also increase the number of backups if you have the drive space.

This knowledge base article gives tips on working with Scrivener and cloud-sync services, including some beginning troubleshooting steps. I saw that Jeff has already helped you out and that you’ve been able to recover most of your work (yay!), but it might still be helpful for moving forward, or if anyone comes across this thread later facing a similar problem.