how big can my file size get and still be stable?

Hi there,

I am writing a dissertation in Scrivener (which is wonderful BTW and making my life so much easier) but as I add folder and files I am wondering if there is a maximum file size for one .scriv document?

There’s no problem backing it up, but I’m just wondering about stability of the document (too many years of working in MSWord I guess).


Stability doesn’t usually become a problem with size, it seems — some people run projects of several GB without problem — as Scrivener only loads into memory the document(s) you are working on or have open at any moment. From that point of view, the more you split your dissertation into small chunks that will then be brought together at compile time, the better.

What does become a problem, it seems, is that if you have many images and other media files in your project, then saving times become longer and longer, to the point that they impinge on the ability to work fluently. For that reason, I believe, the recommendation is to use links to media files stored outside the project, rather than importing them into the project, whether in the research area or embedded in a document.

Just my ha’p’orth … others are more knowledgeable.

Mr X

Having had my own thesis fall victim to a Word stability issue, I fully understand your concern.

Mr. X is right on target, though. Very large projects can be difficult to work with because of the resources they consume, but breaking the internal sub-documents down into reasonably sized chunks largely eliminates that problem.

One thing to be aware of, though, is image size. The final Compile step in particular puts everything in the manuscript into a single file. But modern SLRs can create much larger images than you would necessarily want to include in either print or ebook formats. So you might want to give some thought to your final image resolution early on, before you’ve pulled hundreds of 25-megapixel images into the project and now have to resize them all to get it to Compile successfully.


Thanks, that is all good advice - I think I’ll work with a different scriv file for each large chapter, and the comments on the media files is noted. Cheers! :smiley:

You can do that if you wish, but text is something Scrivener handles in bulk quite nicely. It’s not at all like Word where you have to either cut things down to chapter-sized files to keep the software humming, or risk instability and corruption. You can think of the project as being a bit like a file manager in this regard, because each entry you add to the Binder is a different file, and Scrivener will load and flush them from memory as need be. So in a sense it’s more like having a cohesive interface over dozens of Word files, with only a little more overhead than that. I’d say, don’t worry about it unless you’re running upwards of a million words. :slight_smile: This program is designed to churn through words without any bluster. That will only be more true the more you “outline” your text out into smaller pieces. The whole program is designed to become more beneficial the more topical each individual section is. Keywords work better, labels, searches, indexing, and of course resource management. Stay comfortable for how you prefer to work, but this is a program designed to cut a large document into hundreds, even thousands of pieces without blinking. You can take it way deeper than you would with a word processor, where it would be supremely annoying to have that many files to manage.

At most, I’d suggest having a research project and a dissertation project. Keeping the research separate will keep your dissertation project tidy and easy to back up frequently, or as suggested, use links to research instead of fully importing it in the project, then you get the best of both worlds.