HELP: Entire year worth of work lost. potentially dropbox related

Hey guys, I’m praying someone can help me.

Basically, I ran out of room on my dropbox ages ago - I totally forgot that my file was saved in the dropbox folder, so I’ve been working on it constantly for over a year, 8 hours a day on average .

I usually have a backup device that autosaves my files, but typically, the one time I need it the external drive broke two days prior.

Now, where the fuck up happened - Generally I use Scrivener on my desktop pc, in my home office where I write. I also have a laptop, that is rarely used, that I took on holiday with me, after remembering that my novel was located on dropbox, so I can access it via there and continue working on the move, totally forgetting that dropbox is full.

I loaded up Scrivener, opened the document and… It’s a year out of date. I work out that it’s likely the dropbox file, then go into the dropbox and delete a tonne of images in the hopes that this will free up enough room for the devices to synch (forgetting the fact that im now assuming that the PC wouldn’t have saved to dropbox as it was full). Still nothing. Thinking nothing of it, I tuck the laptop away and forget about it until I return home 6 days later, to find this disaster. My desktop PC has been overwritten with the year old version. Previous versions on dropbox show only the a copy of the year old version that I opened on holiday on the laptop, and the year old version from a year ago. I even bought dropbox pro to rewind the entire folder, and it makes no difference, due to the fact that it appears dropbox never even saved a fucking copy of my work before overwriting it with a previous version.

I then checked my local scriv backups folder, that is set to save automatically, but i’ve just noticed it is only set to save the most recent 5 files… Somehow, there was FIVE backups created, ove every minute for five minutes, on that one day it was overwritten. Is there any way to retreive older backups?

is there ANYTHING I can do?

Sorry, but I’m not clear if the above refers to your Desktop PC or your laptop.

Check the dates on the Scriv backup folder on your desktop PC.

If they are from prior to your vacation, before doing anything else, COPY THOSE ZIPPED FILES OUT OF THE BACKUP FOLDER.

DON’T OPEN SCRIVENER ON YOUR DESKTOP PC until after you’ve done those copies.

Yes, I’m yelling, The zipped backups on your desktop PC are the only thing I can think of to save you.

Although, what’s the story with your external hard drive backup device? Exactly what do you mean by “it broke”?

Good luck,

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Jim’s advice is sound.

If you don’t have Dropbox’s packrat, dropbox support might be able to find an old sync of your account and restore it for you, send them a ticket today. You can also check how dropbox rewind works this lets you wind a folder (like your .scriv folder) back to a point in time. To guard against this in the future, I suggest you compile your manuscript to an RTF once a week and store that away in addition to your othe backup measures. Also, snapshots save in seperate files inside the .scrv foleder for your project, so if you’re a snapshot user, you might have a version captured. Using Save-As to generate a copy on an external drive monthly isn’t a bad idea either. I just append the date to the project name for easier searching. (Yes, I am paranoid–why do you ask?)

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Please don’t use Save As for this. Use the Backup To command.

The reason is that Save As creates a copy of the current project, then continues working in the copy. It is a major cause of “lost” work, when people go back to the original version and find that whatever changes were made in the copy are “gone.”


Sorry, I meant the backup folder on the desktop.

Looks like I’m screwed.

Thanks for all of the advice. Unfortunately dropbox wont be able to help as the previous version never saved to dropbox at all it was just straight up overwritten with the new (old) dated file.

I use a NAS drive that runs 24/7 st to backup the files on my PC. The enclosure failed two days prior to this nightmare, so nothing was backed up.

When you say the enclosure failed, do you mean a controller failure or internal drive.

Depending on the type of NAS and disk setup there MAY be a retrievable copy on there. Best first step, contact support at the NAS mfr. they may be able to advise on whether the drive will be readable on an external plug in caddy (unlikely as most I’ve come across have brand specific formatting), or potentially plugging into a new NAS enclosure of same model.

If it’s a drive failure, a possibility of data recovery at a specialist, though $$$.


Good point. Unlike many programs, Scrivener has a very useful “Backup To” command that saves you from needing to re-open your main working project to continue editing. :smile:

This. @Wrecket Don’t give up on the drive–treat it like gold–as there may be recoverable data on it. It may cost you $, but that’s against whatever a year of work is worth.

Let us know how it goes.


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Unfortunately I mean that the actual enclosure went haywire, not sure if it was a power surge or a hardware failure, but there was smoke, tears, and an extremely corrupt file.

The manufacturer of the enclosure was brilliant though, althought hey couldn’t help restore the files, they sent me a free enclosure due to the manufacturing fault, even thogh i’ve had it for over three years.

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I’m currently looking into seeing if the data on the NAS drive can be salvaged… though it’s not looking good.

Most NAS devices use some form of Linux and use native Linux disk formatting. One possible way to check if there’s salvageable data is to pull the disk(s) from the fried NAS device and put them in another external enclosure. IF they power up you might be able to recover the data. Download a copy of Linux Mint live iso and burn it to a thumbdrive (4 GB or larger). Boot it and once its up pen the “files” you should see the unmounted NAS disks and you should be able to just double-click on them to mount them. (Mint is pretty Windows-like.) There might be salvagable files you can copy to your Windows hard drive (you’ll have to mount it the same way you mount the NAS drives – but it should be obvious which is which.)

Linux Mint iso can be found here: Linux Mint 20.2 "Uma" - Cinnamon (64-bit) - Linux Mint


Each Scrivener backup ZIP file in the automatic backup folder is created new and the old files are deleted. You can try some undelete tool(there are free and paid alternatives) and point it to the Scrivener automatic backup folder. It will probably find lots of files with the same names, but using size and date(if available) you will manage to restore a more recent version of your project.

Scrivener supports automatic backups with date too. I would recommend using this option in the future too.