Empty files!

I haven’t worked on my novel since 2021. I tried to pull it up in Scrivener today and the chapter, scene, characters, everything is empty. Undeterred, I pulled up the backup file and it doesn’t work. The .scriv file does nothing and when I try clicking on the files folder, that doesn’t work either. I am not computer savvy, really. I tried reading other folks’ threads with similar issues but couldn’t figure out how to make it fit my own problem. I have the novel saved as a text file, too, so all is not totally lost, but I want my character files and extensive notes, etc. I don’t remember it all because it’s been so long since I’ve worked on it. I’m near tears here. Will somebody please take pity and walk me through this?

Your issue is probably due to a cloud service. (OneDrive, likely, if you didn’t even know you were using a cloud.)
Check this thread linked below.
If that is your case, worry not, your files are more than likely not lost. Only misplaced.

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Okay, even if that’s so, I still don’t know how to fix the problem. This thread refers to things I don’t know how to access.
First: “They appear empty, but the good news is: Once you download / make them available offline again, their content should show up again.” If downloading them from the file folder on my computer doesn’t work because they’re empty, I’ve no idea where to even access the real files.
Second: “If indeed your issue comes from a cloud service that snatched the files off of your hard drive, you should be able to salvage the whole of your project by toggling the files in the cloud to be available offline…Those files will then download back to your hard drive.” How do I do that? Toggle what where?
I really have no idea what half of this stuff means. :sob:

Okay, I found the zipped file in OneDrive. I downloaded that and extracted the files and I can’t figure out how to open it into Scrivener.

If there is a file with Scrivener’s icon in that folder once unzipped, simply double-click it.

I did. Nothing happens.

How did you extract (unzip) the files ?
If you double-clicked the zipped folder, what you see is only a preview of the content.

You need to right-click on it, then in the menu go for “extract all”.

If I do it from the file folder, it opens up Scrivener, so it’s clearly having some effect, but no text is in the file in Scrivener.

I extracted it first. I’m double clicking on the .scriv file

I am not sure I can really be this useful, I have trashed OneDrive a good while ago (don’t do this at this point or you’ll lose everything) and so it’d be all from memory.
I am not even sure the file you have to retrieve should be zipped once downloaded.

All I’ll say for now is : look around your OneDrive for a folder (not zipped) that has the title of your project for a name, then report back.

I’ll let (as in “encourage”) someone else (to) take over, now.

If the project is in OneDrive, I recommend setting OneDrive to have that project available offline. This Microsoft Support page explains their protocols for changing those settings.

If you’re still using either Dropbox or Google Drive for this project’s ZIP backup, you’ll need to follow the steps outlined by the support team for that particular cloud-syncing service to have the materials using their equivalent to “available offline.”

For Dropbox, that this webpage.

For Google Drive, their information is here.

That will give Scrivener the best chance to successfully open and display your text.

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Okay, I figured out a way around it. I remembered I also saved it to a flash drive, so after many issues accessing the files in that, I was able to resurrect the lost novel. Thank you both for your help.


Ok good.
Now, as you will transfer the file from your flash drive to your hard-disk, make sure that you put it somewhere outside of OneDrive’s range.
Else, it may all happen again at some random given time.

None of it was/is really your fault, by the way.

Vincent_Vincent, how do you get rid of OneDrive? It is AWFUL and I hate it. I would happily get everything saved elsewhere and get rid of it but when I tried to–that’s what started this whole debacle, actually.

Create a folder on your C:\ → (NOT ON YOUR DESKTOP) ← and name it something like “Recovery OneDrive”.

Then, in File Explorer, you should see OneDrive in the quick access on the left.
Drag everything from it (the first level of files and folders once you click on it) to that new folder of yours. (Use two File Explorer windows.)

Once the download has completed and you confirm you’ve got all of your files, just uninstall OneDrive from Start/Settings/Apps.

Awesome, thank you for that!

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After I finish on working on a project (sometimes several times a day, and sometimes several different projects), I ‘manually’ (Ctrl-Shift-J) create a back-up, and then ‘manually’ put that back-up in the following places:

  1. OneDrive
  2. Google Drive
  3. My Flash Drive 1
  4. My Flash Drive 2

On 7 or 8 occasions over the past couple of years, I have had to download the back-up (i.e., the .zip folder containing the .scriv file) from OneDrive, extracted that, and it has always opened and worked fine.

Now, it may be that if one sets OneDrive to automatically back-up to OneDrive (i.e., synching), there are subsequently problems with those back-ups, and I have chosen to go the manual route because I have read about those problems when using the synched method with OneDrive.

But my experience tells me that OneDrive will not inherently cause problems with Scrivener back-ups, and restorations of those back-ups.


Okay, thank you. Good info!

Microsoft 365 will from time to time offer to backup your hard drive. A small menu overlay pops up with on-off switches for their various products and the Documents folder. Obviously, they’d want you to backup to their product, OneDrive, and upsell you a subscription based on “limited” space.
If you feel you don’t want to take up the suggestion, keep all switches off.
The popup comes back periodically, probably with the monthly software build update.
That’s significantly less irritating that Google offering to be your default browser every day.
Dropbox also suggests you upgrade to a paid subscription. They too are less persistent.
It’s hardly an inconvenience, and I’d never be fooled into buying something just to make a pesky advert go away.

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