help! scrivener deleting my work?

Hi there
I’ve been using scrivener for over a year without any problems. Today, I was working happily on a project. I finished changes to one scene an wanted to open another scene. I opened that scene from the binder and it was blank. I tried opening another scene and that was blank, too. Although, in the binder, the icon showed them both as not blank.
Let me close this and start again, I thought. Fine, except it automatically saves my ‘changes’. So now it has wiped two of my scenes and I am scared to open anything else as it’s wiping them all.
Can anyone help? This is miserable. I have a whole morning to write - which is unusual with work and two small kids - and so far I have not only lost the work Idid today, but two other major scenes.
Before anyone asks - yes, the old scenes were backed up elsewhere - but even when I open old versions, the same thing happens.
Please help!
I have emailed for support but can’t imagine that will happen soon.

I’ve just opened an old backup from my computer that was made from ‘compile’ in scrivener into a word document. It doesn’t have the deleted sections in either.How can this be?

I’ve just done a compile from what’s there now and it’s down to 65,000 words from 89,000 before.

I have previously been saving in dropbox and on time machine to an external hard drive but the same scenes turn blank on scrivener when I click on them. I won’t click on any more.

I’m not at all technically minded so if you have ideas to help please speak slowly and clearly. Am panicking now.

What version of Scrivener do you have? There was a known data loss bug a couple of versions ago, so make sure you have the latest, 2.5.

Barring that, the most common cause of this sort of problem is damage to the project, usually resulting from a Dropbox synchronization conflict. In general terms, the project metadata is damaged, so while your missing data is probably still there, Scrivener can’t find it.

There’s a detailed procedure for recovering from synchronization errors here:


Hi there
thanks for replying - and for emailing.
I have tried all of your suggestions with my extremely technically literate friend.
I have the latest version of Scrivener -2.5. I have checked for dropbox synchronisation errors/ conflicted copies. There are none.
Any other suggestions? To be honest it’s utterly terrifying. I’m afraid to click on any scene in case it deletes it. I have cobbled together a compiled version of my project from newer and older backups and because of the deleted scenes, I have lost at least 12,000 words and lots of edits to what I do have. I have opened several older versions and they all do the same thing when I click on the scenes.
I feel quite let down as I started using scrivener as it seemed to be a safer, easier way to work and save my larger projects.
Now I feel like it’s not safe to use.

Ow. That does sound like a mess.

The first thing I would suggest at this point is to backup what you have to something like a USB drive, disconnect the USB drive from your computer, and put it in a safe place. That way, at least you can guarantee that things won’t get worse.

In addition to Dropbox synchronization errors, we’ve seen cases where third-party backup and cleanup software “helpfully” removes files that it considers to be “duplicates,” thereby wreaking havoc. There was even one case where the third-party backup was fine, but the local copy on the user’s disk was missing material. You only mentioned Dropbox and Time Machine in your email, but you should definitely be wary of any other backup or disk cleanup utilities that might be running on your system.

Regarding your work itself, the most likely possibility is that the actual writing is still there, but Scrivener’s metadata is damaged and therefore it can’t find it. Here is what I would do to recover:

(Do all of the following either with Dropbox synchronization paused, or in an area outside of your Dropbox folder. Also turn off any backup or cleanup utilities you might be running, other than Time Machine.)

  • Start with a brand new, blank project. Put it in a new “clean” folder: not your backup folder and not the same folder as your existing projects. I’m going to call it Recovery.scriv for ease of reference; you can call it whatever you like, but be sure to give it a unique name.

  • Using the File -> Import -> Scrivener Project command, import the best version of your original project that you have. Scrivener itself will do its best to recover any “disconnected” files in the project, labeling them with something like “Recovered Files.” Go through any such files, and put them in the appropriate locations in Recovery.scriv’s Binder.

  • Backup Recovery.scriv, using the File -> Backup -> Backup To command. You’ll be making several of these backups, and I would suggest putting them in a brand new folder (not the same one you created above) with a distinctive name. The idea is to save your work after each step, so that if something goes wrong, you can get back to the last step that worked.

  • Close the new project, open it again, and confirm that all your work is still there.

  • Find your next-best copy of the original project in Finder. Right-click on it, and select the option to Show Package Contents. Browse to the Files/Docs subfolder. You can either drag and drop the entire contents of this folder into the Binder of Recovery.scriv, or use QuickLook with Finder’s search tool to identify the files that correspond to missing material and just drag those. Either way, slot them into the appropriate locations in the Binder.

  • Make another backup, as above. Close and re-open the project, again confirming that everything is still there.

  • Do the same with your third-best copy, and so on until you either recover everything or quit finding additional material. Take a backup after each step.

Once you’ve given up on recovering anything more on the local system, make another USB backup – ideally to a separate USB drive – disconnect the drive, and put it in a safe place.

Make sure Recovery.scriv is NOT in your Dropbox folder, and turn Dropbox back on. Because you’ve already been through the Dropbox recovery procedure, there probably won’t be much new material in the remote store, but it doesn’t hurt to check. Proceed as above, again backing up after each step.

At the end of this long and tedious process, you’ll have as much of your work back as it is possible to recover. What you won’t have, however, is an explanation. Unfortunately, as I said, this kind of behavior is usually due to other utilities running on your system, so it’s difficult to say what might have happened without additional information.