I love Scrivener - but I'm too scared to use it

Having a sprawling complex story and reference materials all in one session is brilliant.

Having random chapters vanish, in whole or part, is not. If I don’t notice quickly enough, backup is no help (even putting aside the time and effort involved in opening multiple versions of a file and scanning for differences). What just makes it weird is how I can go into file explorer and ‘see’ text that doesn’t exist in the project itself.

I have been burned multiple times in the past, once so badly that it stopped me writing for over a year. Each time, I assumed it was my fault somehow - now I realise that at least most of them probably wasn’t, especially since discovering the fragmented text remains in the (source files?) explorer.

I am so gutted because this really has been the best program I’ve ever found for my writing - but at least stupid old Microsoft Word doesn’t randomly cast aside thousands of words at a time unless it’s absolutely 100% my fault.

Sorry to hear you are experiencing problems. You might consider directly contacting tech support directly, via the link below, at bottom.

For what it’s worth, the symptoms you mention are usually related to the environment on the PC on which Scrivener is running, rather than Scrivener itself. Specifically, usually related to use of cloud storage or unreliable media or associated procedures. See the following knowledgebase articles. Also for what it’s worth, I did PC/network deployment and support for a couple of decades and saw just as major issues with Word, usually arising from the environments on PCs it was running on and user practices. If you wish to go forward with Scrivener, I would suggest contacting tech support. If not, I would encourage you to investigate and consider the use of some other app.

Using Scrivener with Cloud-Sync Services
scrivener.tenderapp.com/help/kb … c-services
OneDrive/SkyDrived Advisory
scrivener.tenderapp.com/help/kb … e-advisory
Google Drive Advisory
scrivener.tenderapp.com/help/kb … e-advisory

Again, you may wish to directly contact Literature & Latte tech support…

Hope that is of some assistance.

P.S. I’m adding the following note here, so as to not keep bumping the thread up.

Not to be argumentative, but the suggestion below that a Scrivener project on a Mac exists as a single physical file and is thus lest subject to risk of sync related issues is not correct. See literatureandlatte.com/forum … =2&t=34860 or do a search on “Package (OS X)” on Wikipedia (sorry, the URL to the page doesn’t work properly here). It is true that a Scrivener project is presented by OS X to the user as though it is a single logical entity (referred to in the Apple Mac world as a “package”… which means something different in Windows), unless the user insists on drilling down into its properties. But underneath, in the OS X file system, a Scrivener project is still a .scriv folder containing a .scrivx index file, subfolders, and lots of individual files, same as on Windows or Linux. So while conceptually simpler in terms of finding/opening projects, copying projects, etc. in OS X, the same underlying physical file system and cloud sync considerations exist. I do wish Windows offered a similar facility for hiding the details/internals of such database folders, but as best I can tell, they don’t (“package” means something different in Windows). Regardless of the platform Scrivener is running on, placing projects on cloud storage requires methodical sync practices, as discussed in the above links.

P.P.S. To verify that such issues and considerations are not unique to Scrivener, do a Google search on “avoid microsoft corruption” or “cloud sync corruption”, etc. And read simple-talk.com/cloud/cloud … -strategy/

Not to make light of your situation, BadWolf, and I am sorry you’ve ran into trouble, really feel your pain. However, I’ve been using Scrivener since 2011, both the Windows version and the unsupported eternal beta for Linux, and not even once I’ve lost as much as a single word.

That’s not to say that it’s all your fault or that you’re doing something wrong, mind you! What I do mean to say is that you don’t have to be scared. The worst has already happened, and it doesn’t happen often (a weak consolation, but still). Now you need to calm down (take your time), then sit down and analyse the environment in which you run Scrivener to see if there’s something that can be improved. For example, network drives and cloud storage (say, built-in OneDrive in Win8+) etc. can be very convenient, but can also be a pain in all the wrong places where Scrivener for Windows is concerned.

Maybe someday the devs will make Scrivener for Windows files the same as on Mac, i.e. tell the OS to treat them as a single file instead of a folder (like Outlook email files or MSOffice files). Until then, though, we all need to be a tad more careful with cloud sync.

You don’t need to be scared, and you definitely should not let this stop you from writing. It’s only one piece of software, after all, it shouldn’t be making decisions for you.

Interesting. I used the Linux version for a while until it started doing things like that and lost me thousands of words on more than one occasion. I presumed it was something to do with versions or dependencies, but if it sometimes happens in Windows, maybe not.

I’ve never used Scrivener on Windows but I have lost irreplaceable data in other programs. It’s a horrible experience; sorry you’re going through it. Software or hardware failure is inevitable, even for the best of either.

Back-ups, back-ups and back-ups performed (and verified) redundantly, both in method and target location, are the only thing to combat your fear. This doesn’t add to the workload. Properly understood, it’s an essential part of the workload.

I hope L&L can somehow help you recover what appears to be lost. Contact them. Whatever happens, don’t allow this to derail that which is in your control – your choice to work or not.

Best of luck to you.

Totally this! I once lost two months of updates on one of my sports websites when the hosting provider’s server failed and the backup turned out to be corrupted. This was such a rare and unfortunate occasion that they gave me a year of free hosting as a compensation, but it didn’t recover me all the articles and event coverages we’ve written together with my partner. However, this taught me not to count on somebody doing the backups, so I’ve scheduled my own weekly backups to my local drive ever since.

So yes, backup is everybody’s best friend. This might take several minutes to perform, but that’s a small price to pay for security of your unique work.

I have also lost work in other programs. I am pretty new to Scrivener and I’ve heard here and there of the tragic loss of work, but, for the most part, I’m not worried. I have redundant backups. I obsessively save as I write: sentence, punctuation, ctrl+s, sentence, punctuation, ctrl+s. I know it authosaves, but I’ve been using a word processor since back when the standard operating system was DOS and it’s trained into me to save, save, save. I just can’t rely on a program to save for me.

I have the software set to backup my project in a completely different location when I shut down. I copy my master flash drive regularly to both my computer and another flash drive. If they all fail, I’ll lose years of work. If one or two fail, I’m golden. Your words are precious, so don’t save them all in one basket. The software is just your tool to get those precious words into a readable format. It’s up to you to keep them safe.

Hi Anianna,

Sounds like you have your backup process nailed down.

Unfortunately, the folks who lose tons of work invariably have not paid enough attention to or don’t fully understand how the Scrivener backup process works. Lit & Latte should force their customers to sign off that they’ve read section 7.11 “Backing Up Your Work” and Appendix B9 “Backup” and B12 “Saving” in the manual before they sell them the product. :smiley:

But I wanted to point out to you that you don’t need to do CTL+S constantly. Auto-save is sufficient for ensuring that whatever you’ve just typed is being saved into the Scrivener project. You really aren’t gaining anything that will save you if the programs crashes and/or key files are corrupted - that’s what backups are for.

In fact, I have overridden CTL+S in Scrivener to take a backup, instead of a save. If I am in the midst of a long session, I will CTL+S to take a backup.


I don’t think I can help it. I’m an old dog and skipping the ctrl+s would be a new trick for me! 8)

No worries. It doesn’t hurt anything. I constantly do ctrl-s when using products like MS Office – it’s a good habit to have!

When I made the switch from Windows to OS X I had to learn that some file extensions look like files with a file icon, but they’re actually “packages.” In Finder, we can right-click on a “file” and choose “Show package contents.” So packages are actually folders in WinSpeak.

This is how OS X works. It has nothing to do with Scrivener. It’s how Apple keeps it simple so users don’t see files users shouldn’t need to see (in Apple’s opinion) It may appear that Scrivener for Mac is simpler, but it’s not. And I didn’t realize .scriv was a “folder” until the first time I sync’d to my iPad and watched dropbox load 1000+ files for one project.

Sorry for the long post, but there are a lot of complaints about missing features in the Windows version. When there’s a big difference between the same app on OS X and Windows, it’s usually due to OS capabilities/“features” and porting limitations requiring code re-writes.

To add to MaryANason’s post on this point, while I hesitate to speak on behalf of L&L Scrivener’s developers, I believe I can say with a high degree of confidence that you will never see Scrivener saving your work to a single file as MS Office files do.

My understanding is that storing each Scrivener document in it’s own RTF file was a specific design choice that was considered a safer approach than storing in a single file. The advantage being, in a worst case scenario where the project is somehow corrupted, a user would still be able to recreate their work from the individual RTF files.

This is totally off-topic, Jaaarne, but are you familiar with archive.org?
They save copies of websites they can find. If it was available openly online, there is a very good chance that you may still recover some of it here using that free service, just search the site on archive.org and choose a date before you lost it.

I agree with you, I’m now afraid of using it. Prior to installing the iOS version on my iPad I was very pleased with Scrivener. I felt like I had control over my files. Once I installed the iOS version on my iPad that changed. After a day of fussing trying to figure out how to get my files to sync and finally having success, I then started losing the text out of my chapters. Even when I follow the instructions (being assured by the moderators that it was easy - as if I’m an idiot), making sure Scrivener is closed on all other devices before syncing to my iPad I lost the content of my chapters and research.

I have even uninstalled Scrivener on all my devices and tried to re-install it on my Mac so I can use the original version without the complications from the iOS version. No deal! The Mac remembers all the settings I made to the original to accommodate Dropbox (ick) and the iPad. I want to completely erase the install and install FRESH. But once again, no deal.

I don’t want my book stored ONLY on Dropbox and as far as I can see that’s where it is now. I’ve wasted so much time trying to get this to work. Time I should have been writing.

I cannot afford to keep opening my project only to find a skeleton of Chapter and Research titles but missing the actual documents - full of blank pages.

So, Scrivener, a once trusted application will now go unused … unless I want to completely wipe my Mac and re-install that way. My decades old method of using a word processor, spreadsheet and ascii sort for my folder of research is now back in use. Scrivener is totally out.

Things are never stored ONLY on Dropbox. They are always stored locally on your Mac and/or your iPad, and copied to the Dropbox server.

I use two Mac’s, one iPad and one iPhone, and has hitherto not lost anything. It works exactly as described by L&L. So there must be something fundamentally wrong in the way you handle your projects. If text disappears, you must actively have done something to prevent the syncing from working, like closing your desktop before everything is uploaded to the Dropbox server, or not saving from the iOS version.

There is no reason to be scared.

I too occasionally have trouble with lost documents. It normally happens with onedrive and I when it happened the last time I had to scramble to locate the most recent zipped archive and restore it because I simply did not wait long enough for it the filter through the cloud down to my current computer. I’ve also had many problems with onedrive getting hung up on other files instead of my books. I solved it by moving my active scrivener files to dropbox, which is more suited for database cloud computing. Another thing you should consider is naming your sections in order like so

This way should you accidentally drag one around you can see at a glance what happened and return it to its proper place. I once had this rather embarrassing episode with my ghostwriter consultant where one whole chapter got moved up to the chapter I sent off to her. Another time I somehow inserted my blank character sheet into a section and I have no idea how that happened.

Now, one of the best things I do in order to make sure there is a backup is to save my backups to the cloud too. I use different folders for each device. “Desktop” Tablet" “Laptop” That way should I find a corrupted file I immediately go back to my most recent backup and restore it. Computers were built by man so I make a point of being redundant in my backups. I also make a point of exiting out every few hours so that there is a recent compressed file on the cloud (in my case onedrive.)

However, it’s odd that iOS is having dropbox issues. I wouldn’t know the first thing around iOS due to being a windows girl but I believe dropbox should be a go between them, unless the windows and iOS uses a totally different save feature. Did L&L take into account that people may switch at random between versions?

Sorry, but that is a strong clue that either Scrivener or the computer is being closed/shut down before file synchronization has had a chance to complete. (My wife has the same problem: she expects the computer to do exactly what she is thinking it should do, rather than paying attention to what is actually happening… such as a slow write/sync process.

I’ve used dozens of writing apps since the late 80’s, and never have I encountered an application as safe as Scrivener. It has many safeguards built in to prevent file and data loss. First, one should go to “Tools” => “Options” => “Backup” and set the backup file location convenient to one’s normal working folders, where it is easy to access if needed. Second, one should always, always be very careful with multiple project or syncing locations. Always be sure a project is “closed” or completely “synced” before shutting down, and re-opening the project on a different device. Pay attention, and you’ll never lose documents in Scrivener. I flat guarantee it!

I have been using the Windows version for three or four years now and since I started with Scrivener I save all of my writing projects to sub-folders within my main Dropbox folder and I have never had a single issue. I have never, ever “lost” any files and the only instances of “corrupt” Scrivener projects occurred because of my own carelessness in saving/moving/archiving projects.

In fact since beginning with Windows 3.0 in the early 1990s I have never “lost” anything because of any faulty computer or software issues. I’ve accidentally deleted/updated/corrupted many, many of my files but I have yet to “lose” any.

Having said that my good friend and fellow writer Sukie uses the Mac version and she has some difficulty finding her files at times but it is usually a case of her not knowing where she had put the files in the first place. (Her Dropbox folder is mysteriously filled with dozens of videos of her child and when it hit the space limit she just quit using it.) I have, respectfully, found the few Mac users I have known personally to be less-than-experts when it comes to organizing and locating files on their computers.

I know creatives are supposed to love Macs, but I have had issues switching my brain from a lifelong Windows organizational structure to the one Macs use. Getting organized on the Mac and moving/creating folders does not, to me, seem very easy nor is it very intuitive. I do admit everything seems to look “cleaner, cooler, better” on the Mac and that includes Scrivener as well — at least in my opinion it does.

As for being “too scared” to use the Windows version of Scrivener I recommend anyone in that situation to use Dropbox or Google Drive as the place where you save your Scrivener Projects and that you turn-on automatic updates (with dates auto-added to titles) and set Scrivener to save a back-up each time you close your project. If you have a recent backup and don’t want to create another simply click on “Abort” as the Project Backup is being created. With this system you don’t forget or go too long between backups. The Scrivener-Windows-Dropbox combination just plain works and it will work for you too if you let it!

I also urge the masters of magic at Literature & Latte to consider letting Windows lead their software development path and begin creating new features for Windows first and get around to adding them to Mac versions at some future date ---- and in the process helping build greater self-esteem in us Scrivener for Windows types by embracing a Windows Supremacy philosophy. Maybe even charge Mac users an extra $10 or so just to make the point clear. (Yes I recognize I may indeed be haunted by a ghost dressed in a black turtleneck and jeans because of this blasphemous rant.)

I ran into this issue with a different piece of Mac software with a friend’s laptop and using the CleanMyMac app mentioned in this How-To-Geek post solved a similar problem.

Check out this post and see if this won’t help you get back to writing: http://www.howtogeek.com/231496/how-to-uninstall-applications-on-a-mac-everything-you-need-to-know/.

Good Luck NTG! As a citizen of the Republic of Texas myself, and a fellow writer from the South, I hope you can resolve the issue and will continue to reach our for help until you get the problem whipped!

…and COMPLETELY FAILS to nail the landing.