Keeping track of writing on more than one computer

I know a similar topic has been discussed before, but I’d like to know how others keep track of their writing when using more than one computer.

Since I don’t collaborate with anyone, I’m not talking about something complex like Subversion. It’s just that I used to pretty much stay with my desk machine (a mini) but now I will be going out more and writing in coffee houses, etc., and would like to know how others keep up with their most recent work.

What I’ve done: So far, I’ve set up a separate, non-admin account on my powerbook, but I haven’t transferred any .scriv files to it. The ones I do create, I’ve been exporting the file(s), then emailing them to my gmail account to download onto the mini. Unfortunately, I can see that becoming confused pretty quickly, though right now I’m not sure what else to do.

Another question: Do you keep ALL your current Scrivener Project (including research, notes, etc.) on your “satellite” computer, or do you just keep the actual file you’re working on that day?

Thanks for any ideas and suggestions.

(Note that the way I get the file(s) onto the Mini isn’t all that important - I also have wifi I can use at home - but by using gmail I get to keep an archive copy online.)

I just drag the whole project to the satellite computer, then drag it back when done. (Actually to a flash drive and then to the satellite, but it amounts to the same thing.)

Obviously this overwrites the original project with the modified one from the satellite. That’s not an issue for me, but if it is for you, you can bring the new one back to a different location.

You could also work directly off a flash drive that you plug into whichever system you are using at the moment. Or store everything in a .mac account or somewhere else online-accessible.


I have some webspace that I use exclusively as a sort of manual backup server - when I’m done for the day, I do a “save backup as a ZIP file” from Scrivener to the desktop, then upload that file to the server via ftp .

If I subsequently need to work on it on a laptop, I sign in to the ftp from the laptop and download the ZIP file, expand it and start working. When finished, I do another “save backup” and upload the new version to the server. Because Scriv auto-names backups with the date and time, there’s never any question over which ZIP file is the newest version.

If you don’t have webspace, you could probably do the same with or similar. It’s not automated, but I find the (minimal) effort required actually makes me more confident about my backups.

Thanks for your replies.

It’s sounding like you both overwrite the .scriv file (packet) - true?

Do you keep a lot of your research in the file as well? I keep most of my research in DevonThink Pro Office, but I’ve still managed to pull in quite a few PDFs and .doc files into the Scrivener project.

I keep wanting to start a new Project file so the interface isn’t quite so fussy. Just first draft work and notes, etc. BUT that idea falls apart when I consider all the fragments I’ve already written.

I’m starting to wonder if I’m expecting the process to be more complicated than it actually is.

Katharine, I do like the USB idea (though I’d probably use an SD card just so it wouldn’t stick out). Do you backup online as well?

Antony, I have and use .mac as well as the quick and dirty gmail backup. But I have tended to backup to .mac on a schedule (using the Smart Folder idea that I read on here somewhere). Do you just download the latest file and overwrite the .scriv project file on your ‘main’ computer?

Any other thoughts on writing in the wild and then returning to home base? Many thanks. :slight_smile:

Yes, I overwrite the .scriv file. Backups will save you if you are uncomfortable doing this, but I’ve never had a problem.

I do extensive backups. Both a daily online backup and a weekly backup to an external hard drive. So I don’t feel I need the added step of archiving things between the main computer and the satellite.

I keep most of my research in DTP, and have a a copy of DTP running on the satellite system as well. The DTP database is too big to move back and forth, so I export just the files I need and then import them to a small database on the satellite.

To clarify, I have several .scriv files. One is dedicated to random fragments, the others are focused on particular projects or groups of closely related projects. The satellite only gets the ones I’m actively working on. This minimizes the sync problem since the main computer always has the most up to date version of everything except today’s (or this week’s) work on the satellite.


I use iDisk with .mac and keep all my .scriv files on the iDisk. As long as the iDisk is syncing OK, everything works. Just make sure you sync’d before shutting down if you’re going to be moving between your main to satellite machines on next session.

If I’m working on a different computer to the last time I worked on a project, then yes, I overwrite the old with the one downloaded from the ftp server. If I’m working on the same computer, I don’t bother downloading the backup version, I just open the Scriv file on the HD and start working.

The beauty of Scriv’s “Save as Backup” auto-naming convention is that you don’t automatically overwrite older backups when you upload to the server. So long as you have the disk space, you can keep every backup you’ve done throughout a project’s life until it’s finished.

I keep all my research either in Scriv, or on good old pen and paper. DevonThink and the like are overkill for what I need.

Like Katherine, I have dozens of Scriv projects, each dedicated to a different book (or series). If you’re doing multiple projects inside a single Scriv file, this backup method may not work so well for you, though I can’t think why not.

I have used Chronosync for about 3 years now to synchronize active folders between my desktop and my laptop. This works excellently over the wireless network. It keeps selected folders synchronized (you can even schedule syncs); if you accidentally change a file in both locations, you will get an error message and you can decide which one to keep. It has been very reliable for me and works for scrivener as well as for any other files. Chronosync keeps track of what file changed when on what machine; it also synchronizes deletions.


Like jottce, I’ve been using Chronosync for some time. I have it configured to synch automatically when I connect a particular USB stick to either my desktop or laptop. It’s been working pretty well. I also have it syncing my DevonThink Pro files associated with my projects.

At the end of each day I use it to back up my work to an external hard drive.


I have a folder. Inside that Folder I have all my material asscociated with my project whether it is contained inside the .scriv file. Once I am done before I shut down I copy the whole project folder to my iPod. I then got to EXPORT FILES and export the current “Chapter” or “scene” I am working on to the desktop using the PLAIN TEXT feature. I copy this to my NOTES folder on my Video iPod.

Then I can read over and review my latest writings on my iPod as I listen to my music whether it is in transit, waiting in line, or sitting down enjoying a nice cup of coffee. I keep a small notepad in my pocket and jot down corrections to my latest addition while they are fresh on my mind. When I get home I plug in my iPod. Copy the Project folder to my home computer (replacing the old) and then delete the EXPORTED file on my iPod. Crank up SCR and make my corrections I noted on my notepad. Before I shut down I repeat the process so in the morning I can review my latest rough drafts.

I then rinse and repeat. :slight_smile:

For more info on displaying notes on a video iPod here is a link.

Oh, clever. Used Book2Pod to get some old short stories over to my iPod, worked really well. Kind of small to read a novel on maybe, but hey, that’s what the iPhone and iPod touch are for, just that the folks at apple haven’t figured it out themselves yet.

I write mostly on my Mac Book, my girlfriend use our Mac Mini and that computer also doubles as a fileserver and never gets shut down. So anywhere I go, as long as I got an internet connection, I’m able to get files from or to the Mac Mini. I also use a small usb-memory to make backups.

Thanks, everyone, for some great ideas!

I do have Chronosync, but wimped out in using it and stuck with Backup. Looks like I should go back and get better acquainted with it.

Obviously, what I want to do can be done, so I just have to work out the best procedures for me. (And stop freaking out everytime I go to overwrite something.)

I have an alias of the projects I’m working on in the Dock (this will be even easier with Leopard and the spring Dock folders).

When I’m ready to move some projects to the other computer, I close Scrivener, go to that project’s folder, and do a copy of it. Then I coopy he original file to a USB pen, or to the other computer if connected via ethernet/wi-fi.

When I’m ready to return the modified docs to the first computer, I do the opposite: make a copy of the file, then overwrite the original files in the first comòuter. If somethng goes wrong, I still have a copy of the previous version.


I like Chronosync very much, especially once I customized various backup & synchronizing files for different needs.

I think it was Amber who tipped be off about synchronizing deletions. Do that, and you’ll have a perfect copy wherever it goes.

I write extensive projects and I make a folder per project which is copied in the machine… and basically I have copies of each project on two machines, and three drives.

My primary box, this one.

The windows machine (cannot open beyond the exported file that I print, but still it is a backup)

And my thumb drive

When I used exclusively WIN machines, or actually cooperate with my brother in law, that is exactly what we do anyway. Have folders per section of research.

I have "Synchronise! X Plus which I use for backing up work from my hard drive to my external drives.

It does a back up and a sync mode. So having just started writing consistantly, I set it up to sync the writing folder from my G5 to the imac downstairs. When I came back upstairs I hit sync again, and it updated the G5 with what I’d done on the imac.

Very neat and handy. But what it doesn’t do is a three way sync - I also have the laptop which I might choose to write on if I went out. (It wouldn’t be for very long, as the battery life is about 3 minutes… but we do go camping in a VW camper van, and get an electric hookup)

Something like DropBox might be ideal for what you are looking for. I think I have a beta invite or two left if you are interested.

Depending on whether you need to keep the files in a particular format (e.g., Scrivener), you might be able to use Evernote.

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Pink is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.

:open_mouth: :open_mouth: :open_mouth: :open_mouth: KINKY! :smiling_imp: But then nothing really changes, does it? 8)

Le D :smiling_imp:

Le D said

But was Le D thinking

There are cheeks, and then there are cheeks.

There is also, come to think of it, cheek.

Don’t blame me; it’s Billy S’s fault.