Dropbox project size change

I have a Dropbox account with 2.75 gig space, and I use it to sync my Scriv projects (plus some other non-Scriv stuff as well).

I had one of the semi-regular warnings from Dropbox that it was getting close to full, whereupon I usually have a sort out and move some things to get it back to not-full.

I’ve been thinking the last few days about what to do this time, and this morning I decided to take the plunge.

When I opened Dropbox in my browser, though, I had a shock.

The other day, when I had the warning, my main Scriv project was taking up 2.46 gig. Today, it shows as 63.7 MB (!). Nothing has changed. It’s still the big project it’s always been, slowly expanding as I work.

Anyone know what’s going on?

Have you verified against the actual project on the disk, via Get Info?

Yes, but actually I gave the Finder figure in my post. So, in the Finder the size shows as 63.7 MB; clicking Get Info on it there shows 66.5 MB; and at Dropbox in my browser it’s 60.75 MB.

If it is too small on the disk but not the website then you may be suffering from Dropbox’s recent “improvements” with regards to deleting your local work in order to “save space”.

It’s dramatically smaller than it was a few days ago according to both the disk and the website.

All right, well I can think of nothing obvious that would explain it in that case. Going through the Dropbox activity logs might reveal something, but it sounds like rolling back to the last good backup is what you need to do now.

How are you even seeing the size of your project via the Dropbox web interface (i.e. via your web browser)? Your Scrivener project is not represented there as a single object at all. Are you interrogating a zipped project rather than a live one?

You say you determined the other day that your project was 2.46 GB. How was that determination made? Just via the Dropbox web interface, I suspect.

I’ll look at the activity logs as you suggest. The thing is, it’s all working as normal, as far as I can tell. I did some work first thing this morning, before I knew about all this, and saved and closed the project successfully, as usual. And I’ve just done a quick open and look, and everything appears fine. I wonder if I should just consider it OK as is? Though my inclination is to be concerned.

Looking at the Dropbox web interface, if I highlight my Scrivener folder in the sidebar on the left, then hover over the relevant [Title].scriv project in the centre space, an ellipsis symbol appears to its right, and clicking that gives a dropdown that offers a “Calculate size” option. Assuming you have or have made a Size column, the result appears there. In this case 60.75 MB, as I reported.

None of these files, local disk or website interface, are showing as zipped, and I don’t think they are.

I can’t remember for sure where I looked the other day and saw this project as 2.46 gig, but I’m pretty certain it was local disk. It’s been that size or approaching that (as I work more) for as long as I can remember.

It’s probably a stupid question, but… aside from those numbers — is anything actually missing? Like content, research files, etc.

Amber, nothing stands out in the activity logs. Do you still think I need to roll back to backup? As I mentioned, everything seems still to be working fine.

November_Sierra, not stupid at all, but no, nothing missing. I’ve looked everywhere for signs of anything amiss. Mystifying, to be honest.

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2.46 GB is a lot. If the project were actually that large, you’d know why: you’d have a significant amount of research material, or image files, or something big enough for it to be obvious if it was missing.

So there are a few possibilities:

  • You were mistaken, somehow, say because you were checking the entire Dropbox folder rather than just the project, and it was never that big.

  • There were “ghost” files in the project, not reflected in the Binder. For example, sometimes people manage to drag large image libraries directly into the .scriv folder. Scrivener has never “seen” them, but they’re there on the disk. If this were the case, though, you probably would have seen an error message of some kind, followed by Scrivener asking to incorporate them into the Binder. (Scrivener 3 has better checks against this sort of thing than Scrivener 2 did.)

  • The data really was there, but in some non-obvious place, like the project Trash, or lots (and lots) of Snapshots. Then you emptied the Trash or cleared out old Snapshots, or something.

One way to check what’s going on would be to look for a backup taken before the shrinkage. Scrivener’s automatic backups should go back that far. Check Scrivener → Preferences → Backups to find them. If the backups are large, you can uncompress one of them–in a different location from the main project! – and have a look inside.

I mean, if it’s all there, it’s all there. But personally I’d be concerned if Finder was reporting a tiny fraction of the size it should be. At the very least I’d restore a parallel copy from backup to another folder entirely, and run a side-by-side comparison. It might not be the most fun thing to do, going through each binder item, but 2gb is a lot of stuff to lose to backups rolling off, and Dropbox delete history eventually expiring on stuff you didn’t think to check.

It is large, indeed. There’s no big research material—some pdfs here and there, but no images, and my interview recordings only stay there for as long as I need them and then are promptly saved elsewhere, away from Scriv. Most of it is text. A bloody lot of text, but still only text.

I’m definitely looking at this project, not the whole folder. No ghost files. Nothing in Trash, and very few Snapshots.

Backups exist, of course (!). I will investigate further. As Amber suggests I’ll do a side-by-side cf when I have time sur le weekend.

One question: is there a way to search the project by file size? If there is, I might at least be able to identify any big files that have slipped my attention and caused the bloat.

And a note to say what terrific help is available here at the forum. I know it’s been said many times, but that’s no reason not to say it again. Invaluable.

2.6 GB of text is approaching 2 million pages. That’s … a big number.

You can’t do it in Scrivener itself, but you can in Finder: Locate the project, right-click, and choose the option to Show Package Contents. Items that Scrivener knows about will be in the Files/Data sub-folder. “Ghost” files could be anywhere.


PDFs can be very large, of course.

Then you mentioned backups as if they could theoretically be the problem … but they can’t, unless (a) they’re saved inside the project or (b) the huge file size includes things that are not in the project at all.

Option (a) can happen in a couple ways, but it would be an odd thing to do.

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Once you get into the Files/Data subfolder of the project package, hit ⌘J to bring up view settings on this folder and make the following changes:

  • Sort by: “Size”, toward the top.
  • Add the size column.
  • Tick Calculate all sizes, toward the very bottom.

Thanks all. I looked in the Files/Data folder—the folder itself is only 52.2 MB—and there are a few pdfs, the biggest of which is 11.6 MB. So it ain’t that.

If you copy the entire project into a new project in Dropbox folder, does it show the same size?

OK, I’ve found what it is/was.

Just to clarify: I’d always seen this project as a very large size, but suddenly this week it tumbled from about 2.4 GB to about 63 MB. That’s what had me worried.

So… having checked the Files/Data folder for the current state of the project (the c.63 meg), as I reported just now: nothing big in there. Of course.

Now I’ve just checked my last backup (the c.2.4 gig) in the same way. And there are the culprits in the Files/Data folder! Five interview recordings totalling not far short of 2 gig.

So when I said earlier in the thread that I only have those in my project while I transcribe them and then move them elsewhere, well… evidently I’m not as thorough as I thought. I recall now (!) having a clear-out earlier this week and spotting those old recordings—and moving them out. Which I promptly forgot about. Doh! I certainly will try to be more efficient with this in future.

So, again, thanks to all. Sincerely.