Help! Losing data

I may be guilty of using Scrivener in a way it is not intended – to create a series of “folders” used to house technical information about different aspects of winemaking. Each folder has subfolders. For three months I have been logging in information, only to see today that all the folders and related files are empty! All I have is the material I just added today!

The word count of these empty folders that have names is zero! Why are they disappearing?

I just did a search for .scrivx and found an old version dated a month ago, but the file that had ALL the data I’ve been collecting for three months is filled with files that have titles, but are empty and have word counts of 0, while other files (just added in the last 48 hours) have the recent information. How would I be able to get these empty folders with titles back?!

Where did you store your live project?

maybe this is it … I did not store it! I NEVER have any problem on the Mac yet the Scrivener file is “anchored” on my PC … every day for three months I added hours of data to it!!!

So it was not stored. I am hoping Tech Support at L and L can help me with this as there is no reason the files should all suddenly be empty.

Your file is always stored somewhere - it’s saved automatically when you close the program.

Maybe I should have been more specific in my question.

When you created the project, Scrivener requires that you save it somewhere. Did you put it on you hard drive, or in a Google Drive folder, in the OneDrive folder, etc?

Where is the project saved?

Thanks. It is “stored” on my desktop (I think) … the Scrivener program is “anchored” to my desktop on my office PC. I have a strong feeling that the “old” files must be there, as the the same thing happened to a different fiction project a few months ago.

Suddenly, it all reappeared - though I had not been that worried about it as I only lost a half day’s work.

But this is three months! And it is curious why the “new entries” added on Sunday show up, while all of the old data I’ve been adding has the correct file folder names but zero word count inside them.

I suppose that some corruption could have happened but the office tech team (they are clueless about this program) keeps everything updated and running well.

Thoughts on how this can be fixed?

The .scrivx file is to a Scrivener project as a library’s card catalog is to a library’s bookshelves. So if for some reason, you moved just the .scrivx file, then all you have is the “card catalog” which contains titles and a few other bits of info, but doesn’t contain the actual “book” associated with each title (in this metaphor, the text in your editor = a book on a library shelf).

So what could have happened is that you or someone else mistakenly moved/copied the .scrivx file somewhere and opened that, and Scrivener dutifully recreated the (now empty) folder structure to contain text, leaving behind the old folders that contain computer files with the text you typed in previously.

Do a search across your entire hard drive for all folders ending in “.scriv”, ignoring any “.scrivx” files that it finds. It’s possible you’ve been recently editing the partly-empty copy created from a bare .scrivx file, and then you found that original one with your old text in it using your search.

Thanks! This seems logical! I make a habit of “cleaning” my desktop so it’s likely I swept it into the trash. but when I look into my deleted items folder I see a bunch of deleted scrivener files with names like “settings” and “snapshots…”

Doing a search of my hard drive comes up with a million results related to scrivener

Hi Marisa,

More questions:

Are you working on the same projects on a Mac and also on a Windows PC? (Sounds like you might have a Mac at home and a PC at work?)

Do you use Dropbox or OneDrive or some cloud service to store your projects? (And for sharing across devices in the first question.)

Do you leave Scrivener up for days at a time or do you start it and end it each working session?



Are you working on the same projects on a Mac and also on a Windows PC? (Sounds like you might have a Mac at home and a PC at work?) I learned the hard way not to share the same project even between the two, but I wish I could

Do you use Dropbox or OneDrive or some cloud service to store your projects? (And for sharing across devices in the first question.)
No - I store it locally – that is likely the issue, not sure if the core file is on my desktop … the project is always “up” on my desktop, readu for entering data.

Do you leave Scrivener up for days at a time or do you start it and end it each working session?
I leave Scrivener up for days at a time and never close it which is likely the problem. This past Sunday in my backup folders (under tools) I saw there were two backups, one at 4pm after adding a lot of data and one at 10pm when I left work for home.

Typically on Monday morning I try to get rid of as much “junk” on my desktop as possible, and this is when I realized my old files were gone. I really feel I might be able to find the hard entered data. This happened several months ago to a fiction project — the titles were there but data gone. I did not freak as I had another copy on my Mac, but in this case I do not have that resource


Jim do you have any other suggestions? My IT person came by. He is not familiar with the program but we did a search for .scriv and only found .scrivx. The file must be somewhere but where?

If you found backups, have you tried to restore from them?

Be very careful with those backups! If you have the default Scrivener settings, you will probably erase them after opening the project five times.

Next thing you should do is copy the backups somewhere outside of the backup folder designated in your settings.


Jim thank you VERY MUCH for your words of wisdom. I totally had the “all is lost” moment but then I remembered that my old fiction file was restored (still a mystery) so I had hope.

The backups were useless, as (as you said) they took on the same file name with the same empty files.

Then - I remembered SWEEPING the “junk” off my desktop. But it was not in the trash. I had somehow tucked the file called “2017” files into “writing related.”

It did not occur to me to peek inside there, but after IT came by I looked in my files.

And as you said, that whole library thing!

Very grateful to your help. My computer has a lot of protection b/c it is a company computer (I can not put files on a zip drive, download to Dropbox) but if you can help me think of ways this would never happen again.

For example, what do you think my settings should be in backups? backup on start and finish? 5 or 10?

Then, I APPRECIATE what you said about keeping another back up in another folder AWAY from the back up folder. I will do this and maybe email a zip file to myself.

I should probably take the precaution of writing down when I move/add/rename any scrivener project in my print diary, and also email a record of activity to myself.

That’s all that I can think of an I am still out of breath. That said, VERY grateful for your help.

Most of all, you must remember that a Scrivener project isn’t a file. It’s a folder with loads of subfolders and files in it. If you want to keep it on the desktop, fine, do so, but remember not to touch anything inside the folders at all. Ever!

Do minimize the risk of doing something stupid I would have ONE folder on the desktop called ‘Scrivener projects’ and then keep all the individual project folders inside it, so when you clean the desktop, everything related to your Scrivener projects would always be secure inside that mother folder.

Thanks Jim. It is a struggle to keep my trigger finger off that Scrivener 2017 folder on my desktop, but I’m trying. Today for some reason my file did not open automatically but when I went to the file directly it did.

Now a backup question: after filling in data for the day I am now backing up. It backs up though to my computer, and I’ve already developed a long distracting string of the same project updated with different titles reflecting their dates …

As a computer consultant, I tell all my clients that a backup to your own computer is not a backup. Furthermore, requiring you to rename files etc. is asking for trouble.

My standard recommendations are:

  1. buy a $60 or so USB drive and connect to your computer.
  • I recommend secondcopy ( as a backup program. It will make backups and keep any number of previous versions in an archive folder ($30) - This is a Windows program. I don’t know what to use for Mac.
  1. Get an online backup - I recommend SpideroakOne which will backup at any frequency you want off-site and keep all previous versions. It has both Mac and Windows versions.

Both of these are setup automatically but I recommend checking that they are working.

Apple has their own backup solution, built into every Mac - Time Machine. Buy a Time Capsule. It works as a router and backup HD, and makes backups in the background every now and then. I have my different kinds of data files in Dropbox, Box, iCloud drive and Mega (depending on software etc), and the corresponding folders on my Mac are also backed up to my Time Capsule, plus an additional HD at work, also using Time Machine.
So I never do anything, but automatically have every file on my Mac, on a cloud service and on two Time Machine backups at different locations.