How to make separate folders for back-up and sync in Dropbox?


I have been using Scrivener on my Mac desktop for a few years. I set it up to make back-ups to Dropbox and I use Time Machine to back up my computer.

This summer I got an iPad and started using Dropbox to sync my projects. I started to have problems with the syncing and the backups, and, after reading around on this form and watching videos, I am realizing that this problem is probably because the projects and the backups are saving in the same folder.

I have read advice that I should move these to be in separate locations and I would like to ask: what’s the best way to do this?

Should I create a separate folder called “live Projects” in my dropbox app on my Mac and drag the project files into that? And do I then need to take steps on the iPad to ensure that it is now syncing to that folder?

Or should I create another folder for the backups and drag all the backups to the new “backups” folder? And then go to the backups setting pane in Scrivener and change the location of automatic backups?

And should that new backups folder be somewhere that is NOT on Dropbox?

thanks for your help!

Moving the backups is probably easier than reconfiguring sync, though neither is particularly difficult. If you do want to change the sync location, tap Edit on the iPad Projects screen, then the gear icon to get the Dropbox Settings option.

Yes, I would recommend using different cloud services for backup and synchronization, so that a problem with one service can’t affect all of your copies.


Thank you so much! Does Scrivener recommend any particular syncing service besides Dropbox?


At this time, Dropbox is the only supported service for use with iOS Scrivener. The reason is that it is the only service that gives developers access to the file-level operations needed to synchronize a Scrivener project.

For backups, on the other hand, all the competing services are fairly comparable, provided you ZIP your backups. That compacts the entire project into a single file, so even services (notably Google Drive) that we don’t recommend for live projects can handle it safely.


Thank you so much for your help! I do have another question, I hope you can help with!

I made another folder in Dropbox in the finder window and dragged all the zip files there, as an initial step to separating the live files from the back ups. (I am thinking I should drag this folder to library/applications/scrivener/backups and then sign up for another cloud backup service.)

But I then noticed something weird. I have 2 projects - one looks mostly normal - I can see three .scriv copies - two of them backup copies that I think I opened when I noticed things going wrong.

The other (older project) has multiple copies of the .scriv file, none of them zip files, but some of them labelled “backup”.

How did I create this and what steps should I take to stop it reoccurring? Here’s a snapshot - thank you so much!

Part of the story is this: I am thinking those files with ‘Backup’ in the title are safety copies of older Scriv projects. For example, when you open in Scriv 3.x a project created with Scriv 2.x, it will first create a safety duplicate (“Backup”) of the project before converting the project to the 3.x format.

Thanks for that! So, should I move those files out of my “live projects” file?

And why do I have so many duplicates going way back?

Just want to be sure I’m not creating more problems for myself going forward. :slight_smile:

Do you use File->Save As to “back up” your project?

Another possible reason you have so many copies is that you may have been opening non-zipped backup projects in the backups folder.

For example: “Take Me Back Scriv” would have backed up to “Take me Back Scriv 1”, and the 2, 3, etc… up to the maximum number of backups that you were keeping. If you went into the backups folder and opened “Take me Back Scriv 3”, made even the tiniest change, and then closed it, Scrivener would then create a numbered backup of “Take me Back Scriv 3”, naming it “Take me Back Scriv 3 1”. As you kept opening those backups, backup names based on those backup names would add another number to the end, as you see in your screen shot.

I suggest you do the following:
You say you moved your backups to a new folder. If it’s solely for backups, then make sure it’s named to reflect that. I have a folder called “Scrivener Backups” so there’s no confusion as to its purpose. If you think you might use your folder for other purposes, create a “Scrivener Backups” sub-folder and move your backups into that.

Then, go to Scrivener->Preferences->Back Up, and choose your “Scrivener Backups” folder. While you’re there, check the box for making them ZIP compressed, and the option to add dates to the backup filenames. That’ll make a lot more sense than the numbering scheme I’m seeing.

Finally, decide what you want to do with all these other copies. Maybe keep them until you’ve generated a number of backups for a project from your new settings, then delete them to de-clutter.

If you ever need to examine a backup file, copy the most recent backup (you’ll be able to tell that by the date in the filename) to someplace else. Maybe near your working copy. Unzip it, and then you can view it alongside the original to do whatever it is you need to do with the backup. Once you’re done, archive that copy (there’s a right-click menu in the finder to compress into a .zip file) and move that backup to your “Scrivener Backups” folder for safe-keeping, and to prevent future confusion about which is the “real” project.

One other thing that’s not Scrivener-specific: If you don’t have one already, get an external usb hard drive that’s at least twice the size of your mac’s internal hard drive. Plug it in and tell your Mac to use it as a Time Machine backup drive. Or sign up for Backblaze. You need backups separate from your Mac for all your files (Scrivener’s own backups included) that aren’t just a reflection of what your files look like right now. Dropbox and other sync services keep current copies of your files–they don’t keep a history of past versions for very long, if at all.

This is so helpful, thank you! I will go ahead and try to carry out these steps.

Two questions:

I had actually made another folder in Dropbox called Scrivener Backups and moved all the zip files there. But I am getting the idea that most people keep their backups in library/application/scrivener/backups Is there an ideal place to put your backups folder?

And, should there only be one copy of each live project inside my Dropbox folder that I use for syncing? This makes me think I should drag these extra copies to another folder for now…

I have my Scrivener Backups folder in another cloud-syncing folder (currently Mega).

My active projects, with all their different versions, I have in a Dropbox folder called Scrivener Projects. In that folder I have two subfolders. One called Active Projects which I sync with iOS Scrivener, and one called Archived Projects, which holds older projects that I most likely won’t need again as far as I know, but sometimes actually open because I might remember that they contain something I suddenly think I need. The projects I want to edit on my iDevices I move to the Active Projects subfolder, and when that phase is over I drag back to the parent folder, so as not to burden my iOS Scrivener with projects I don’t edit on my iPad or phone.

Thanks again! Does Mega just download and appear on your desktop as a folder, the way Dropbox does? Or does it backup your entire computer?

Also, should I only be seeing one scriv file for each project in my live projects folder in Dropbox that syncs? Not multiple versions, right?

I have so many questions! You guys are very kind to help me out. :slight_smile:

Yes. Only one “live” (not-ZIP compressed) project file per project should be kept around at all. Archive all the others, and throw them into your new backups folder.

Mega and Box both work just like Dropbox. You install them, they create a folder which they then start monitoring and syncing with the cloud server.

I do the same thing as Lunk does, except I use OneDrive instead of Mega. Since I have a terabyte of storage there, I have a folder under OneDrive set up to keep an unlimited number of Scrivener backups, and I configure this same folder across all my devices. The backups have the date/time stamped into the filename and are written as .ZIP archives. I have another folder under OneDrive for my archived projects (ones that I do not open with Scrivener). And then my live Scrivener folder is Dropbox\Apps\Scrivener, and that’s where I open my projects from.

This keeps all my active projects accessible from Windows, Mac, and iOS – and I can get to my backups and archives from Windows and Mac. If I need to open an archived project, I drag it from the archive folder to the active folder and wait for Dropbox to sync it up, then open it in Scrivener.

… but unzip it first, I assume.

No, that would be a backed up project under Onedrive\Writing Backups. The archived (non-active) projects go under Onedrive\Writing Archive. :slight_smile:

Ah, you ”archive” like me then, unzipped, as opposed to the backups. :slight_smile:

I do both. If a project is active I place it in the Dropbox folder, and as I open it in Scrivener it has zipped backups being created in the Onedrive backup folder.

If a project is no longer active, I move it to the OneDrive archive folder (so it’s not clogging up the sync to iOS but is still available to my Mac and PC machines).

Both my primary PC and my Mac have local external hard drives that also make file-based backups (Windows 10 backup and Time Machine, respectively). I don’t have a cloud backup service yet because I figure the level of redundancies I have in place are pretty good, and at least one of the machines being synced is my primary laptop that will go with me when I leave the house for anything longer than a couple of hours, so I should have at least a copy of my data available somewhere at all times. Plus, I have kids in college, I need to reduce my monthly outlay, not increase it! :slight_smile:

I want to say thank you so much for all your help and advice! I seem to be back in business, making normal back-ups and syncing on Dropbox between iPad and Mac.

I’m setting up an external drive with Time Machine backing up my computer and I’m going to use Mega for scrivener backups, too.

I am really incredibly grateful for your patience and time in explaining all this! :smiley:

This is exactly how I handle it too. :slight_smile: