Having trouble syncing mac and dropbox, though (thought I) followed all the directions

Hi, you smart folks. I would love to toss a remedial question at you: I finally started using Scrivener this week, for a book project. I have a new MacBook Air, with Dropbox on it. Am trying to sync them up. But I’m terrible at this stuff, and despite trying to follow the directions, it’s not working. In fact I almost seem like I’ve got 2 copies being made (?).Hoping someone has some advice:

  1. I installed Scrivener. I put a Backups folder in the hard drive’s Library>Applications Support folder, as L&L had advised.
  2. Then, I went to Scrivener Preferences > Backup > Backup location, and changed that to DropBox, as instructed in a L&L video on syncing to the cloud.
  3. Now, though, 2 things happen: I have a Scrivener project folder on my desktop, still. It seems to be an older version of my project.I don’t know what it’s doing there, and I don’t know if it’s being tapped in all this, or what. It looks a little out of date already. But I worry that I’m not ‘writing’ my files to the correct location, and there might be confusion at some point and I’ll start writing onto an older version. So, should this desktop folder be tossed out?

Also, though I CAN see that backups are now going to DropBox… when I open them to verify that they have made it to the cloud, I get a warning from Scrivener, that the file I’ve just opened is in a place it can be overwritten, and that I should move it. Should I just ignore this, since I won’t be working from the dropbox files barring a catastrophe? Or should the files somehow be elsewhere? thank you for any thoughts. I am a writer, not a computer guy, and I have burned hours already.

  1. Not crucial, but notice that 1 and 2 are an odd combination. In 1 you set up a folder to house backups, but then in 2 you told Scrivener to backup your projects elsewhere (in you dbox folder).

  2. Regarding your point 3. All the you have done in 2 is tell Scrivener where to put safety backups of your projects. This is not related to (and does not change) where your active projects happen to be stored.

  3. Do you know where on your hard drive your active projects are? Do you definitely know they are not in that folder on your desktop?

  4. Turn on Scriv’s zip option for its backups — good idea anyway. If that folder on your desktop starts getting zip files in it, then you will know you did not succeed in telling scriv to backup to your Dropbox folder!

  5. Back to your item 1. Is it possible that the Scrivener folder sitting on your desktop is from or was created to go into the Library > Applications Support folder? The application support folder typically has subfolders for each app. It would be unusual to dump an app’s backups loose into the App Support folder rather than a sub(sub)folder of that.

You are making this more difficult than it needs to be.

If you have more than one copy of your project and aren’t sure which is which, figure it out before adding the extra complexity of Dropbox. Then:

  1. Make sure the Dropbox software is installed, running, and logged into your account at dropbox.com.

  2. Make sure Scrivener is closed. Locate the live project, not the backup, in Finder.

  3. Using Finder, drag the live project from its current location to the Dropbox folder (or a subfolder, if you prefer).

  4. Double-click on the project to open it directly in Scrivener (this is to make sure the Recent Projects list points to the right place).

  5. Set Scrivener’s automatic backup folder to anywhere you want except the folder where the live project resides.

(This is the set of steps you would follow if you want to make the live project available to other devices. If you only want backups in the cloud, you only need steps 1 and 5.)

Supplementing @gr and @kewms sage advice, here is where I put stuff for Scrivener:

  • Projects go in the Dropbox folder Apps/Scrivener. I put the project files in a subfolder to segregate them from other App specific files. Dropbox handles the syncing to their servers and then onto other connected devices. Different versions of Dropbox have that folder in different places on your local drives–they are transitioning now. Read Dropbox’s FAQ’s.

  • Backups go into ~/Backups/Scrivener.. I set backups to automatically be created on close, and keep 25 copies. I don’t store them in Dropbox but in a subfolder of my home directory. Dropbox is not a good backup place, IMHO. I don’t want to put Backups onto a sync service. Wastes precious sync disk space, but more importantly any flaw (corruption, deletetion, etc.) in the backup on the local drive or server gets synced and copied all over the place. I rely on routine backups (TimeMachine, Backblaze, et. al.) to backup the backups (and the Scrivener files in Dropbox also get backed up routinely that way also).

As @kewms suggests, keep it simple.

One thing that I see absent from your description is what you intend to do with Dropbox. You are getting a variety of answers thus far, some describing working in a completely opposite fashion from what you initially chose—this is probably why: it isn’t clear what you’re trying to do with Dropbox? Why do you need it? What do you expect to be able to achieve from it?

If all you want is another copy of your backups stored somewhere outside of the house, then you’ve already got everything set up the way it should be, and from what I can tell by your description, it’s working fine.

I don’t think what you describe about there being two backup locations is terribly mysterious. You mention using the default location initially, and then later changing the backup folder location to Dropbox. It’s safe to ignore the old location, just don’t worry about it.

Also, though I CAN see that backups are now going to DropBox… when I open them to verify that they have made it to the cloud, I get a warning from Scrivener, that the file I’ve just opened is in a place it can be overwritten, and that I should move it. Should I just ignore this, since I won’t be working from the dropbox files barring a catastrophe?

The warning is about actively working from inside your backup folder, which is obviously a terrible idea. What we’re talking about here is really as basic is not storing your daily flatware with the heirloom silver, pulling them in and out of the box two or three times a day. That’s it!

Examining backups or verifying their correct functioning is essentially restoring from a backup, excluding the half where you replace your current version with the older one. The first half is still relevant, and the safest procedure for doing so is described in the user manual PDF, under §5.2.3, Restoring from Backups.

That whole 5.2 subsection on backups may be good reading though, if you want to be thorough in your understanding.

Or should the files somehow be elsewhere? thank you for any thoughts. I am a writer, not a computer guy, and I have burned hours already.

I applaud wanting to get this stuff right before really starting! Most people don’t pay any attention to this “chore level” stuff of making sure you have a good backup system in place—and eventually the odds are they’ll find out why they should have.

Ultimately though, it’s quite simple, as has been the refrain in the thread so far:

  • Tell Scrivener where you want your backups.
  • Leave them alone.

Once you’ve verified it’s working, and they are uploading when you close the project (or however you prefer to back up), then just go into out of sight out of mind mode. The less you fiddle with them and open them up and delete copies you’ve extracted, the less chance there is to damage them.

The only thing I’d suggest different is to look into getting a proper backup service rather than using a free sync account to kind of mimic how they work. Something like Backblaze is going to be far safer, more secure, and is built entirely around backing up your work, not syncing it, which is where things get complicated and risky. For how you’re using it, it’s pretty low-risk. Uploading one or two .zip files a day is difficult for anything to get wrong.

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Everyone, thanks for your thoughts on this, the other week. DropBox made me nervous and so I went with Backblaze. But now, still being a computer doofus, I have one more question for all of you smart folks:

Again, I’m setting out on a book project, I want to make absolutely certain I’m backing up in a few places. I paid for Backblaze, and have done the initial backup of the computer. Next, I wanted to test whether it’s working.

A few days ago, I created a Scriv project called “Test for Backblaze” which has two test documents within it.

Now, when I search Backblaze, I indeed can find “Test for Backblaze.scrivx.” It’s fewer than 6kb.

I can download it. However, when I try to open it, I get this message:

**The document “TEST FOR BACKBLAZE.scrivx” could not be opened. It goes on: “TEST FOR BACKBLAZE.scrivx” is the main structure file for a project, but other required files for this project could not be found: the /Files/Data and /Settings folders are missing.

To be honest, I don’t know what that last sentence means, in the error message.

From my limited understanding I am guessing it is related to Scrivener projects being packets of information.

I thought that, when I asked to restore the ‘project name,’ I would restore all of this. But, apparently not.

What do I need to do, then, to recover/restore a Scrivener project from Backblaze, so it’s actually usable ?? Obviously, knowing this is functioning is pretty key to sleeping well at night, going forward. Any precise directions would be grateful.

Thanks for any help. Backblaze Help Desk is of limited assistance.

You need the entire Test for Backblaze.scriv folder. The .scrivx file is just the master index file.

I use BackBlaze myself, so I took a look at the interface. The “Restore” file browser lists Scrivener projects as folders, nested under whatever the parent folder is. Similarly, the sub-folders inside the project will only appear in the “folder” sidebar, not the list of files. You need to restore the whole thing, including all sub-folders.

Do you remember where (exactly what folder) on your local drive (not on Backblaze) you created this project? Is it in a Dropbox folder and is Dropbox still running? And is Dropbox set for “offline”? If “online” and Dropbox still running, you’ll likely see the error you report.

Dropbox and Backblaze are two different things, actually.

Do you need to sync your Scrivener project to another device (another Mac, iPad, etc.)? If not then you probably do not need to use Dropbox at all. Dropbox is to sync files amongst other computers. It’s not an effective backup location.

Backblaze is a terrific service to backup most your computer to offline and offsite storage. You can run Backlaze app on your computer locally and it will inform you of the status, what’s been backed up, links to their website etc.

As you express concern about backups of your Scrivener projects–and to be concerned is a good thing. However, Scrivener backups are relatively easy to setup and allow to run automatically. Have you turned them on in the Scrivener Preferences dialog boxes? The default location proposed by Scrivener is good, but I prefer ~/backups/scrivener and make “zips” (keeping 25 copies, saving on close and open). These locations will be backed up by Backblaze. Check what’s backed up in the Backup App.

PS. even though you now use Backblaze, I urge you also to do routing backups to local resources with TimeMachine (macOS) or equivalent if on Windows. No telling when a full restore is required.