How could one go on writing while Scrivener backs up?

When I manually back up (STRG+S) a project it takes about 1, 2, 3 minutes. In that time I cannot go on using Scrivener. How could one go on writing while Scrivener backs up?

  1. how big is your project?
  2. Are you zipping your backups, this takes longer I hear.
  3. What are you backing up to?

My backups are so fast I can’t even see that they happened and I zip them.

I backup to my internal SSD drive. Then late at night the system backs up to an external usb drive and also to the cloud.

… and why backup while you are writing? Scriv is continuously saving the current project in the background, so why not do the backups when you take a short break for some reason?

The straight answer is you can’t modify a project while Scrivener is creating a backup. But as noted, Scrivener automatically saves your work when you pause for a few seconds, so there’s no need to create backups while you’re in the middle of composing or editing. Wait until you need to take a short break, then invoke the backup manually, if you feel that you need to.

Many thanks!

622 MB.


To an external USB hard disk.

For example because I think of it and / or I think it is necessary now and such.

Yes, I mean I want to back up the project, not just save it.

For example because I will forget it and / or the period is to big / I want do back ups in a shorter time and see above…

Yes, it really does look like that. But since the option to automatically back up when saving the project (STRG+S) is available there might be a chance a back up can be done while Scrivener backs up, otherwise such an option would be senseless (for me).

I would say saving a project (a file) and doing a back up have different reasons. I just want to back up at each time I feel it is good. Sorry, I do not understand, when the project files or one of them get corrupt.

I would say for me the need to back up depends on a period / an amount of changes / new files, not of (kind of) work one does.

That is not the way I would like to do it (see reasons above). I want a back up independently of my feeling but automatically be done (e.g. by pressing STRG+S)

Many thanks again

It sounds like some of the bottleneck, at least, is because you’re backing up to an external USB hard disk, which can be slow.

One workaround for this, which would definitely speed things up, would be to back up your manual backups to a folder on your internal disk while you are working on the project, then at the end of every session manually transfer the backups to the external drive. That’ll will be a slower process afterwards because you’ll be transferring the data all at once, but your actual work on the project itself will be quicker.

On the Mac there are many ways to automate this second transferring of the backups to the external drive – I’m sure there are for Windows but I don’t actually know what they are, sorry.

Perhaps try backing up to the external USB drive but not enable the ZIP archive option and see if that drops the time factor significantly – figure out if the bottleneck is the file saving, the ZIP, or both (which points to the drive as the issue).

If this works, then the backups can be ZIP by hand at a later time.

Yes, yes, that’s very right I would think, there are many ways to back up / handle back ups with many programs and else, I would like to use the easiest / most convenient one when using Scrivener without having to remember doing back ups and such. Since Scrivener offers those options I would actually like to use them in a useful manner. I had have the same problem with Word but the latest versions now back up while writing / using Word.

Yes, without zipping its faster but too slow. Even if it would take 10, 20 seconds it would be too long. I do not want to pause / wait each time I press STRG+S. It has happened some times that the project / a file of it has become corrupt so I haven’t had any access to it anymore, that is why I make (or would make) back ups very often (with Scrivener) generally.

If you really want to speed up Scrivener backups, write them to your computer’s internal storage drive. Then make use of some other kind of backup or cloud storage to monitor your Scrivener backups folder and let it copy your Scrivener backups to another drive/the cloud.

You may not be able to get it down to less than 20 seconds though, unless your internal hard drive is very, very fast (as with solid state drives). There’s a limit to how fast 600MB worth of files & folders can be copied (which is all Scrivener backups are).

Alternately, if you’re just worried about the changes you’re going to make to a single file in the binder (and you’re not re-arranging items in the binder), then consider using snapshots when you’re about to start editing a document. Snapshots are orders of magnitude faster than a project backup.

Where are you saving your live projects? Dropbox?

I have had Scrivener for four years and have lots of projects, including two books, and so far none of the projects, not one single file, has become corrupt. I have all my live projects on Dropbox, of those the 3-4 I currently work on reside in the folder that is connected to iOS Scrivener. I alternate between three Macs and two (sometimes three) iOS devices and so far not a single problem. Two of the Macs have SSD:s and the third has Fusion Drive (a combination of SSD and traditional HDD).

But then again, none of my projects are over 100 Mb i size. I prefer to keep scientific articles in the reference program and only my annotations and the summary is saved within the project. And large images are kept outside the project.


It seems the challenge is that your project is too big to back up quickly on your current hardware.

I’m not sure that upgrading your hardware will get you to where you want to be, so what can you do to make your project smaller?

Why is it so big? What is more important to you: keeping everything in one project, or faster backups?


I would also suggest figuring out what is happening to cause file corruption. Scrivener is extremely stable and trustworthy for most people. If it isn’t for you, there might be something about your work habits that’s contributing to the issue.

Because Scrivener “freezes” the project while it is backing up, you will never be able to make backing up completely “invisible” with a project that large.


Yes, but before I do something like that I could use a back up program or something lilke that without using Scrivener to back up.

No, on an external UDB hard disk.

Yes, yes, that sounds very good, hope it will go on like that. I wished I could have it as well. I have Win not a Mac, Win is extremely instable / trash, so back ups are much more important, I would say, than being on a Mac.

Well, well, I would not think the hardware is too slow (but it is very slow) for such kind of back up, if Scrivener would back up while I am using it, it would work, I assume.

Yes, I would think so, too. The hesitation - may be a shorter one - would occur as well.

I do not have any idea. But I would say, there is nothing I could to.

Well, do not know, the text, images, pdfs / files. All together. No idea, sorry.

Being able to properly use Scrivener, I would think (if there would be that third option). I didn’t know at alll that there is an option like splitting the project. How could one do such usefullly? The back ups do not need to be faster but being done while I use Scrivener.

Yes, Win generally, I would say.

Yes, a very big drawback.

Here are some suggestions for decreasing the size of your project.

  • Save large high resolution images in your project to a lower resolution. Or store them outside your project.
  • You don’t by any chance have video files stored in your project? If so, they are huge - get them out and link to them instead.
  • Move large pdfs/files out of your project and link to them instead.

Biff, I am on Win 1.9.7. I sync between Win PC, iPhone, and iPad. My experience is similar to Lunk’s, in that I have NEVER had project corruption working with this configuration. There is something in your workflow or your setup that is causing instability. It’s not Scrivener.

This is not a drawback, this is a desirable trait, for me at least. I want to know clearly what Scrivener is backing up. When I press Ctrl+S to backup, I want to know that Scrivener is backing up everything that I’ve written prior to that point. If I can continue writing, is Scrivener backing that up? How would I know?

Yes, no videos.

Alright, thank you very much, Jim!

I use external hard drives & memory sticks extensively with no speed problems.
But the hard drives are SSDs and all of them are fast and USB 3.
Depending on what you are using you may be hitting a bandwidth problem transferring information back and forth.

I’m not sure I see how that does the same thing for you at all. A Scrivener backup is a complete copy of the project as it existed, one that you create at precisely the point in your writing or editing that you want to preserve. An automated system backup that includes the version of your project that you’re editing doesn’t make any distinction between an important stage in your writing, and that hour you spent typing and deleting the word “The” over and over again.

By having an automated backup (or cloud sync) of the Scrivener backups you create by hitting the “save” keyboard combo, you get a redundant copy of that backup off of your main hard drive while also getting the fastest possible backup, one that gets out of your way at the highest speed your computer can muster. The system backup software/cloud sync then runs in the background while you write.

… and don’t save your active, live projects on an external HD. That could be one of the reasons you end up with corrupted files. Keep it on your internal HD.

Alright, I understand, thank you very much!

This is Scrivener working properly, where “properly” means “as designed.” The problem is your expectations. If you have configured Scrivener to create a backup every time you manually hit Save, then you are literally interrupting your workflow to give Scrivener permission to perform those backups – and freeze access for as long as it takes – by hitting the Save key combo.

You can’t remove that gap in time. You can, however, try to reduce it, if you’re willing to do some troubleshooting and spend some money on faster hard drives. (You might also find that replacing your drives makes for a more reliable experience all around – slower, cheaper drives are usually less reliable, and there’s a good chance your corruption problems might be a sign that your current drives/configuration aren’t healthy.)

The only software I am aware of that can make backups of the data while the data is being worked on without impacting the ability to write the data at the same time are server applications like Microsoft Exchange, that rely on a feature in Windows Server specifically designed to make that happen (or that use an expensive SAN storage solution that again relies on features specifically designed for that use case). And then the software has to be written to be aware of it.

The cost of developing and maintaining such a solution on a workstation is usually not worth the benefit it gives, precisely because it is dependent on specific classes of hardware and faster storage. You could probably use something like OpenNAS to build a storage device that you present to Windows as a network drive and store your projects on that, then have OpenNAS take snapshots at a specific instance, but you’d have to roll your code to signal OpenNAS to take those snapshots and then roll your own backup scripts to back up those snapshots. It’s a lot of time and work.