Opened Scrivener this morning - first time since Friday and all text is missing. Had this problem a few months back and was told I was writing inside the Tutorial and when you upgrade, all the text in the Tutorial files you’ve created will be lost (seems odd that the file isn’t deleted along with the text). Fortunately the old file was in the trash - no harm no foul.
Today, I did not do an upgrad and there is nothing in the trash to retrieve and the files are all still blank. Worse yet, it appears that Scrivener is the only software I have that isn’t backing up on my hard drive (I use Time Machine as the backup software). Could it be that I’m still unknowingly writing inside the Tutorial (I thought we fixed this) and that the backup software isn’t seeing any new activity so it doesn’t backup the files? I hope desperately that this is not the case. Otherwise I’ve lost many months worth of work on three books, one that is a few weeks from completion.
Although your level of panic is appropriate to the amount of the (possibly) lost work you should try to calm down at first.
This forum and ahead of all Keith himself is very responsive so there is no need to post your cry for help in various sub-forums. Contrary to your intention this way you might find helpful answers scattered all over the forum instead of bundled in one thread.
I’d love to write now something like “Just press that button and your texts will be back” but unfortunately I can’t. I can do no more than just come up with a few questions which at best light a little bit up the dark we’re stabbing in:
What does “Could it be that I’m still unknowingly writing inside the Tutorial” mean? Do you know the difference between projects and texts inside of the tutorial or don’t you? Projects are files (actually file packages) that are shown in the Finder, they are listed in Scrivener’s Recent Projects. Texts/documents of a project can only be seen in Scrivener’s binder.
When you had that problem with the overwritten tutorial some weeks ago you were told that your way of backing up was not really backing up at all. Did that lead you to change something? For example, did you use Scrivener’s project backup function?
Can you name exactly the date and hour after which your Scrivener files were empty? If so, write it down!
Do you have at least basic knowledge of how Time Machine works? Are you aware that it does not save file after file every hour but also does combine these backups after longer time units, see “Timing is everything” on apple.com/macosx/features/timemachine.html. I’m asking because I suspect this might have something to do with the fact that most of the loss reports mention that there is a certain date from which on all data is gone.
Are you computer-savvy enough and do you have the money at hand to buy another hard drive, do a clone of your main hard drive, put the new backup drive to a safe place, and try a full system recovery from your Time Machine hard drive (with a date pre Data loss)?
1. What does “Could it be that I’m still unknowingly writing inside the Tutorial” mean? Do you know the difference between projects and texts inside of the tutorial or don’t you? Projects are files (actually file packages) that are shown in the Finder, they are listed in Scrivener’s Recent Projects. Texts/documents of a project can only be seen in Scrivener’s binder.
After losing everything a month or so ago because it was all inside the Tutorial, I set up a project (again,so I thought) into which I was doing all my writing. What shows up now is exactly the same empty couple dozen files that were empty a few months ago - inside the Tutorial.
2. When you had that problem with the overwritten tutorial some weeks ago you were told that your way of backing up was not really backing up at all. Did that lead you to change something? For example, did you use Scrivener’s project backup function?
The backup was working fine before the upgrade I did with Scrivener and we never changed any of the backup process via Time Machine from before the upgrade to today.
3. Can you name exactly the date and hour after which your Scrivener files were empty? If so, write it down!
I do not know exactly when it happened. I did quite a bit of work in Scrivner on Friday and opened the Scrivener application this morning to the empty files.
4. Do you have at least basic knowledge of how Time Machine works? Are you aware that it does not save file after file every hour but also does combine these backups after longer time units, see “Timing is everything” on apple.com/macosx/features/timemachine.html. I’m asking because I suspect this might have something to do with the fact that most of the loss reports mention that there is a certain date from which on all data is gone.
I had a Mac expert set up Time Machine and I understand it is not an hour after hour save. The last save was a few days ago (I work on a MacBook Pro that is only connected to the backup drive every few days overnight.)
5. Are you computer-savvy enough and do you have the money at hand to buy another hard drive, do a clone of your main hard drive, put the new backup drive to a safe place, and try a full system recovery from your Time Machine hard drive (with a date pre Data loss)?
Time machine isn’t really a back-up. It takes snapshots of your entire machine so you can go “back” in time to locate deleted files. If you inadvertently click on the wrong button in time machine, you will overwrite your current file with the old one. This sounds like a time machine issue and not a scrivener issue. It sounds like you accidentally overwrote the later material with the earlier version of your file. (I could be wrong.)
If you are not using Scrivener itself to back-up your files, you are NOT backing up your files.
If you do not go to the File pulldown menu and click on “Back up project to” and produce a .zip file on some other location (back up drive, flash drive, online), then you are NOT backing up. Time machine cannot overwrite a file located someplace else.
As a side note: if there is a power fluctuation during a time machine save, you can lose both the original and the snapshot. That is why you must ALWAYS have a real BACKUP not a snapshot. You may have fallen victim to a misunderstanding of what Time Machine does.
If this sounds like a possibility, not all may be lost. Go back into Time machine and check EACH snapshot in time and check for when your file had all its parts (or at least more than now) and COPY it. Then, make a real back-up and locate that someplace else. A cd is a good choice because you can’t overwrite those if you get a straight cd.
I paid someone to hook up Time Machine last year, and to try to unravel this problem today.
As a quick aside - Time Machine runs silently in the background via a wireless terminal and updates on a regular basis without me touching anything. So the likelihood of me having hit the wrong button is nil - I don’t have any buttons to hit in Time Machine.
The tech told me that it appeared since the update from 1.0 to 1.5, that nothing was being copied from Scrivener - an awful lot of lost work (80% of one book). He surmised that since I was apparently doing all my work inside the Tutorial (which is EXACTLY what the instructions lead you to - see Importing - Step 3 and how it has you import without setting up a New Project - clearly makes you assume that the software is setting that up for you.) - that Time Machine was not detecting a file being changed, and did not update Scrivener.
I followed the Tutorial instructions exactly and as a result, ended up importing all my work into what I now know is the Tutorial, and what I now know is not a file, and what I now know, is a place where all your work will be lost. Seems like something of this should have been shared in the Tutorial. The concept of a New Project doesn’t even show up in the Tutorial - not even the phrase “new project.” I guess I’m stupid enough to think the application set that up for me as it took me through the import process. How stupid of me for reading and following the directions. From what everyone is telling me, I should have known better and just jumped in a followed my intuition. Turns out that route of chaos would have made more sense.
What’s with the snark and the multiple posting in different threads?
I understand your situation but you’re blaming the program for something YOU did. And even if you did follow the tutorial to the letter (and continued to work within it), there’s NO way you would have missed this:
[i]What’s with the snark and the multiple posting in different threads?
I understand your situation but you’re blaming the program for something YOU did. And even if you did follow the tutorial to the letter (and continued to work within it), there’s NO way you would have missed this:
Backup To... (available from the File menu) is your friend... Use it frequently to save copies of your project (you can save copies as archived .zip files, too) to ensure that your work is always backed up.[/i]
I’m being very composed and professional considering what has happened. I wouldn’t judge me until you’ve lost an entire month of work as well and see how it settles. The irony here is that a piece of software that is supposed to help writers write turns out to have put me more at risk of losing everything than any common word processor out there. No word processor would open to the Tutorial, then have the Tutorial tell you save your files inside the Tutorial (which wasn’t clear that this was what was happening), then not tell you that everything you just saved there will be lost along with all future writing.
And I did not miss the “backup to…” message, which is why I paid someone to come in and set up Time Machine and an external hard drive.
Yes, I did this. I followed the Tutorial exactly as it was written, and ended up with all my files inside the Tutorial. No question I did that. If I had ignored the Tutorial and just jumped in and rummaged around in the header I clearly would have been better off - would have used my intuition to start a “New Project” and off I’d go. But had I done that and lost all my material because I hadn’t read the Tutorial, I’m sure you would be telling me I should have followed the instructions.
I’ve lost years of work before, when a hard drive crashed. Ironically, the drive was supposed to be newer and better than the one I replaced it with. These days, I keep back-ups sprayed all over the globe. I frankly don’t worry about data loss, but I do know exactly (probably even more so) what it is like to lose a lot of work. But I didn’t blame the software or the computer, these things happen and I changed my behaviour to account for that. This happened almost a decade ago, and since then I have only lost a few things and then by complete negligence (I overwrote an MMD folder once and lost one special file I’d made).
Yes, you lost stuff, yes that sucks, but what happened was not a situation that anyone could have reasonably anticipated. The developer had no idea that people were writing whole multiple books in a single help file. It’s just not one of those things you plan for, obviously. Steps have been taken to avoid this in the future, and that is the most you can do as a provider of software. The tutorial might benefit from having a final stage explaining the role of projects and how to make a new one. Scrivener isn’t like DEVONthink, you are encouraged to make new projects for every large project. At least in the future, if someone doesn’t get that, their Tutorial file will stay untouched in the Documents folder.
I still find it hard to understand why all of your files – ever – are missing. That doesn’t seem logical, given that Time Machine has been “backing up” files regularly.
At some point, if you were ever able to open Scrivener and start working where you left off, then there were files on your hard drive, and TM should have written those to the external. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but TM doesn’t differentiate between file types when backing up – it just copies ones and zeros to the external – so the idea that Scrivener is somehow immune to a Time Machine backup seems unlikely.
@anyone who knows better than I, as I don’t use TM: Are there certain files that TM never backs up? I seem to remember that it doesn’t back up certain critical OS files. If so, is it possible that the missing work was saved in one of these locations by accident? And if so, might they still be there?
Also, a second (probably ignorant) thought: Is this a corrupted hard drive issue? And if so, is there any repair/recovery app that might save the work?
Well, a tutorial is supposed to be what the name implies: just a tutorial, and not the place where you are writing your book.
I understand many Scrivener users, while being good writers, are not as technical-savvy as others might be. But I invite everybody to just use some common sense when using any software, and do what one would do in real-life: put your user guide and training materials aside, take a new notebook, and start writing your work there.
The Help is very clear in how to deal with projects. Reading just the Getting Started section is really a great help for people who don’t want to become a computer expert, but just learn all the basics of Scrivener.
I have replied to the op via e-mail, as he e-mailed me for support too. Although he initially placed work in the tutorial, which was the cause of his problems a couple of weeks ago, it is my understanding that in this instance the work was placed in a new project somewhere on his hard drive, so that shouldn’t be the issue in this case. It sounds like a Time Machine issue, but I don’t use Time Machine either. It is also similar to a couple of other threads that came up recently, all of which are still a mystery, unfortunately. So I’m waiting for more information about what might have happened in this particular case.
All the best,
Just sent you lengthy responses to each of your questions - thank you for asking them. Also sent you a zip file of what I could recover.
Sean Coffee - to your question: “I still find it hard to understand why all of your files – ever – are missing. That doesn’t seem logical, given that Time Machine has been “backing up” files regularly.”
According to the Mac tech I hired to come in and try to assess/fix this situation, he guessed that since the project was being created inside the Tutorial, that Time Machine would never had seen it because it was not its own file, but “hidden” inside the Scrivener application.
I was able to recover one file from the time I had the original problem when I upgraded from 1.0 to 1.5 - Time Machine would have seen the change in the program from 1.0 to 1.5, and done an update. But since then the “file” didn’t exist outside the application and Time Machine had nothing to copy. All this is pure conjecture on the part of the tech, but makes more sense than anything I can come up with.
As far as “a Tutorial being a Tutorial” (someone else in this thread added this), and the accompanying implication that I should have known better, please read Steps 1-4, and particularly the first step that tells someone how to set things up - Step 3 - Importing. If you follow steps 1-4 exactly, you will end up with all of your files imported directly below Steps 1-4. I originally thought I must be inside the Tutorial, but when the program guided me to import all my files right below Steps 1-4 to get started, I (fairly I believe) assumed that the file had either been converted from a Tutorial to a live project, or that the Tutorial was just Steps 1-4 and my information was imported BELOW the tutorial as a New Project.
Having read and re-read the Tutorial, I believe ANYONE who was not reading into these instructions and adding their own spin to them would have done exactly what I did and ended up with all their files “below” the Tutorial (which of course I now know is “in” the Tutorial.) FYI - the phrase “New Project” and/or the concept of a New Project is never addressed anywhere in the Tutorial - another reason I believe it was fair to believe that Scrivener had set this up for me when it guided me through Setup (Steps 3-4).
My fatal mistake was actually following the instructions instead of charging off half-cocked and winging it through setup like I always have with every other application I’ve used. Had I ignored the Tutorial, I almost certainly would have seen “New Project”, set one up, and avoided this whole issue.
Scrivener isn’t like DEVONthink, you are encouraged to make new projects for every large project.
Not sure what you’re saying here. If you’re saying Scrivener encourages me to make new projects for every large project, can you show me where that is encouraged (I couldn’t find the phrase “new project” or even the concept of new projects in the Tutorial anywhere.)?
And as for losing your information because you had done nothing to prevent it, I’m not sure how that relates. Maybe I got this wrong, but it appears you were irresponsible and did nothing to prevent a problem (no backup system at all), vs. doing exactly what you were told by experts to do to prevent problems. If you ignore the experts I would agree you have no one to question but yourself and serendipity, but if you followed the directions to the T and those directions turned out to lead you over the cliff, seems like a fair thing to come back and ask some hard questions.
You may want to have a different tech look at your applications settings. Anyone who would do this “semi-professionally” should have recognized your skill level and set TM to do the full system monitoring. This would have included your Applications folder and hence Scrivener. And if you say that scrivener isn’t in your applications folder then you clearly have a problem with your TM set up. Scrivener DOES get recognized by TM on my system. I just checked and it is there for several runs.
So either TM is simply set up wrong, or you have a larger system level issue going on here. If the former then you need to get the guy back on site to fix or refund. If the later I would go to apple and ask them to run full diagnostics.
There are huge, bold-faced declarations in the “Getting Started” section of the user guide. I quote:
Again, I can see how you came to the conclusion you did. I did not myself follow that particular route of understanding, though I can see how one might get to that point. But saying that “Scrivener” doesn’t explain the notion of projects is not true. There is a whole section on it linked off of this big warning.
Well, I got into computers in a virtual vacuum. I had to largely train myself everything and learn from experience. The Internet was rather unheard of outside of Universities and such, tech books expensive. All I had was a piece of equipment, a huge stack of Debian disks, and a bunch of spare time. There were no “experts” to ignore. If I needed to figure out how to get my video card working, I had to practically learn about all of the details that go into video cards from the ground up, in libraries. Until I did that, all I had was “virtual 1983” in big black and courier. Making a backup, back then, was hardly in the same realm as today. You had to research tar strategies, come up with device solutions and the types of media you can use. Most people just spent hours with big stacks of floppy disks, or hideously slow CD burners if they had the cash. Extra drives were too expensive to be consider a valid backup media. Could I have done better, sure, but it happened in a certain moment of computing history where drive size was outpacing cheap backup media size and for a while I didn’t have a good plan.
My point was, even if we follow directions (in either a fuzzy or highly strict manner), there is a certain threshold beyond which the directions cannot address in a reasonable fashion. The tutorial was not designed to be the entire book spelling out each and every detail and philosophy of Scrivener, but a self-contained quick-start guide; a supplement to the user’s guide. Evidently this wasn’t clear enough for some people; all of our minds work in different ways.
I suppose the “To the T” part was never part of its operating assumption. A playground, not a 747 engine startup checklist.
Any chance you were running Scrivener from the mounted disk image, rather than having it installed in the Applications folder. That might describe why the first time you were able to recover your file off Time Machine (it being properly installed), while in the latter situation it was being run off the disk image, which Time Machine will will not back up.
Great idea! I don’t think you could save the changes on the dmg though as it should be read only. If you managed to change the DMG to rw then you did some not so tough advanced stuff (meaning not hard, but requiring a bit more than passing knowledge of *nix).
I like the thought though. It raises another question: is an encrypted disk being used?
Thanks for showing me the huge, bold-faced declarations in the “Getting Started” section of the user guide. I quote: Clearly see them now. Unfortunately I didn’t start there, though.
When I got Scrivener it sent me first to the Tutorial (or I chose that, not remembering what 1.0 did), and then I followed the Tutorial slavishly (again, big mistake). So while I see now that the Getting Started pull-down clearly says I should set up a new project, there isn’t a single mention of even the concept of a New Project in the entire Tutorial. While the Getting Started pull-down says the first thing I should do is start a New Project, the Tutorial says the first thing I should do is import my files (Step 3 - Importing), which pulls the files in directly below the Tutorial Steps 1-4, and right or wrong, made me think the program had set up a file for me (thought process - “it doesn’t even mention New Project setup, must have done that for me”.)
Get the Getting Started pull-down and the Tutorial to give you the same first step - setting up a New Project.
Make sure the instructions tell you to import your files to some file other than the Tutorial (program automatically imports them to the Tutorial). I think the interactive Tutorial is great - it’s just that the default import should be to a New Project and you should have to CHOOSE to import to the Tutorial. Right now the default is the other way around - the default is to the Tutorial and you have to choose otherwise.
Make it clear when you import something to the Tutorial (at least the first time you do it), that anything writtin in the Tutorial is likely to be overwritten without warning.
That would have kept me from making all the bad assumptions I made as to how the program works, or at least removed all my excuses for bad assumptions.
Great question Jaysen - Any chance you were running Scrivener from the mounted disk image, rather than having it installed in the Applications folder. That might describe why the first time you were able to recover your file off Time Machine (it being properly installed), while in the latter situation it was being run off the disk image, which Time Machine will will not back up.
No, it was definitely installed in the applications folder. When we went back and found the month+ old file on the external backup drive and pulled it into the existing Scrivener application, it began to back up just fine (and we hadn’t messed with the Scrivener installation, which I have confirmed was and is in the application folder).
Thanks, though for continuing to think about this head-scratcher.