Lost all my work.

I’m absolutely gutted. I seem to have lost my work for a second time. The first time- my fault. I backed it up to scrivener and my hard drive but my computer crashed and I had to do a full system restore.
This time I backed it up to drop box, scrivener, hard drive and memory stick. I was tyoing away a suddenly my screen went blank. So I thought okay not worry. I will go to previous back up. But my work is missing. Please tell me there is a way to find my work? I am absolutely gutted. I have spent all day working, poured my heart on the page and it’s all gone for the second time. Surely there is a way of finding older versions?

I really don’t think this programme is for me.

Hope the following comments help. They aren’t meant to be critical. But it is hard to try to capture what needs to be said and done in a brief note, particularly without knowing the person and detailed specifics at the other end. If the comments are unusable, unacceptable or objectionable, my apologies, toss them.

Assuring, practicing and periodically testing backup/restores is an unavoidable reality, regardless of what writing software (Scrivener, Word, OpenOffice, etc.), PC, operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux), etc. you use.

Are you using the latest production release of Scrivener?

Did you lose just the day’s work or the entire thing?

First thing is to try to locate copies of your work.

Check your Drop Box, using something other than Scrivener. I’m not familiar with Drop Box, but would guess they offer some way you can use your web browser (Internet Explorer, FireFox, Opera, Chrome, etc.) to see what is there. There may be some desktop icon or such in Windows that will also let you see what is there. If there is anything there, DO NOT do anything to the material, other than perhaps copy it elsewhere for safety sake (CD or DVD, fresh memory stick, not the one previously used, different computer, etc.)

Then check your computer’s hard drive(s) and memory stick(s), using Windows Explorer (i.e. the file system browser), rather than Scrivener. You are probably looking for three locations, that are discussed below. Again, if there is anything there, DO NOT do anything to the material, other than perhaps copy it elsewhere for safety sake (fresh memory stick, not the one previously used, different computer, etc.)

Scrivener project folder(s), name(s) ending in .SCRIV, in the following location unless you specified otherwise
Such folder(s), for example
will have Scrivener project subfolders and files like this:
You are interested in the folder and everything in it.

Scrivener backup file(s), name(s) ending in .ZIP, are single compressed files into which copies of all the above materials have been packed, in the following location unless you specified otherwise
for example
There will typically be more than one of these, with the numeric digit after “bak” varying for each.

Memory stick (i.e. thumb drive or USB drive) backups, in one of the above forms, depending on how you went about doing the backups to the memory stick.

If there is anything like that in those locations, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, do anything to the material, other than perhaps copy it elsewhere for safety sake (fresh memory stick, not the one previously used, different computer, etc.).

If you have any doubts about this, have someone experienced with using Windows PCs handle this for you.

The key thing is to get new backup copies made of that material, via copying (not via moving or using Scrivener), to other different/never before used thumb drive, CD or DVD, Internet location, computer, etc.

Then you can turn you attention to what the underlying problem(s) is.

There are one or two basic issues involved…

  • Your computer may be unreliable or compromised in some way.
  • Your backup setup and procedures may be incorrect and/or untested in some way.

The chances that Scrivener itself is the culprit are slim to none. There are too many experienced writers using Scrivener intensively, who report Scrivener has never ever lost anything of theirs, or at least much less than other commonly used writing software, for it to be likely that the problem is Scrivener itself.

Suggestions… Not to be insulting, but…

– If at all possible, assure new backup copies of the backups, as discussed above, before doing the following.

– Have someone knowledgeable run thorough hardware diagnostics and virus detection on your PC. You report a history of crash, system restore, screen blanking, … which suggests something is wrong. Could be hardware, software, virus, … Your PC may need hardware repair, disinfecting or complete from scratch wipe/reload of Windows. Some of this can possibly be done remotely, by someone knowledgeable you trust, using a remote control program such as TeamViewer.

– When the PC is determined to be reliable, stable and uninfected, review Chapter 7 (specifically 7.8 Backing Up Your Work) of the Scrivener Manual. If the above discussion and 7.8 don’t make sense, consider pursuing some generic Windows basics and file management tutorials or classes.

– When you return to using Scrivener, you’ll need to get one of the backups discussed earlier back onto the machine in a location and form suitable for Scrivener to use. If the backup is a raw copy of the project .SCRIV folder and its contents, copy it somewhere Scrivener can get to it. If the backup is a .ZIP backup file, use 7Zip or some other Zip compress/decompress utility program to extract the project .SCRIV folder and its contents from the .ZIP file and copy that somewhere Scrivener can get to it. It may also be possible to place a copy of the .ZIP file somewhere where Scrivener itself can access and extract from it.

Review the Scrivener manual, tutorials and consider one or more of the Scrivener books available on the market.

You may want to split long documents up into multiple documents so that if one gets corrupted/lost, you are out a much smaller piece of work. A Scrivener project tends to be made up of many short documents. I tend to do a scene per document and use “scrivenings” view to view several together at one time. Each of my scenes/documents is typically no more than a couple of pages in length.

Once you are back in business with the recovered work, or if you opt to restart from scratch, thoroughly review/adjust your backup locations, frequencies and practices. Then, periodically test, to assure that in fact the backups are going where you think they are and that you can actually routinely recover material from them. Say at least once a week.

In Scrivener for Windows, in the menu, go to
Tools > Options
then click on General and make sure that “Save after period of inactivity” is set to something relatively short. By default, it is set to 2 seconds, I believe. That is for “saving” as opposed to “backup”,
then click on Backup and make sure “Turn on automatic backups” is checked and note the Backup location for future reference (you can change it if you wish). You can optionally set it to always do a backup whenever you manually invoke a save, if you want multiple backups taken during a writing session (depending on how large the project is, backups may take a while).

This is an unavoidable reality, regardless of what writing software (Scrivener, Word, OpenOffice, etc.), PC, operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux), etc. you use. If you aren’t prepared to master and practice that, best to stick with paper and pen.

Good luck with whatever you settle on.

Just realized there is a middle ground that might prove useful for frequent saving/versioning within a given document, … Snapshot

From the manual…

15.6 Using Snapshots
In essence, the theory behind a Snapshot is very simple. You can think of it as a way
of manually saving your file for future reference. In a program like Scrivener which
automatically saves your work as you work, you lose the benefit of being able to work
“off the disk” for a while, and choosing at defined moments in time to either save what
you’ve done, or discard it and return to what you have on the disk at the last save point.
Of course, on the other hand, if your computer crashes (and as much as we try to avoid
it, sometimes Scrivener crashes too) with an auto-saving program, you might only lose
a few minutes of work, or even nothing at all, rather than everything you’ve done since
the last save.
Snapshots help you bridge the gap between these two ways of working. It is like saving
your document as you go, the only difference is, you get a record of each save point.
That means you can go back and examine the evolution of the file and pick out just the
right spot to restore from. In the course of editing, you might change your mind about
something you deleted more than one save iteration ago. With a traditional save as you go
model, you’d be out of luck. With Scrivener, you can just go back through your Snapshot
history, find the point in time where the deleted passage still existed, and copy and paste
it back to the present—or even just roll back the whole document to that spot.

This has happened to me today and yesterday: a scene wiped from the page right in front of me as I was writing, without any warning. I assumed I had accidentally typed in a short cut with my fat fingers, but can find no such short cut (and why would you have a “delete whole page” shortcut anyway?).

That’s two days work down the drain. For obvious reasons I really need to find out what is causing this before I risk using Scrivener again.

I would recommend emailing support; this place is great for general issues and questions, as people like me often pop in with answers in addition to the few people on the payroll. The email support is also the first priority for them, from what I’ve read, and posts to threads can get lost in the shuffle more easily, and go unnoticed.

windows.support@literatureandlatte.com is your best bet in being in the queue for certain.

Also, a detailed description of what you saw will be invaluable and speed up the debugging (speaking from personal tech support experience here). Did each letter you’d just typed get deleted, one after another, as if some ghost was holding down the delete key? Did the words just vanish as you watched the screen? Did the document disappear from the binder? How it happened matters a great deal, and provides clues that can lead to a faster resolution.

I contacted them earlier. Still waiting for a reply.

On both occasions I pressed “shift” to type in an Upper-case letter (or thought I did, like I said before, I have fat fingers) and the whole page went instantly blank.

My first instinct then is to verify that you’re still in the same document you were before. It’s possible that you hit CTRL plus some key that created a new, blank document and put you into it*, or maybe your old document got moved to the Trash folder in your binder. Are there any words or phrases you could use to search for the document? Try the toolbar search field, then go through all the documents that appear in the “search results” (which temporarily replaces the binder), making sure to use options like “all words” if “exact phrase” might not work, and other options to look in places besides your Draft folder. You can reach those options by clicking on the magnifying glass icon inside the search box.

*CTRL-N does this.

Well, CTRL-N does nothing at all on mine.

I have however found the cause : CTRL A, which highlights the whole text,

I’m going for Shift A, but press CTRL A by mistake, followed by the next two letters in the word I’m typing, which immediately wipes all the previous text away, leaving me with just those last couple of letters (namely ‘n’ and ‘d’).

I guess my English teacher was right all along: you really shouldn’t start a sentence with ‘And.’

Unfortunately it’s too late to click on ‘Undo.’

With the focus in the editor (as it would normally be right after this happened), you should be able to use Undo to restore the deleted text, so if this happens in the future just give that a go to recover. If you’re really worried about it, you can always remove the Ctrl-A shortcut from “Select All” by going to the Keyboard tab of Tools > Options and typing “Select All” in the filter bar at the top, then clicking the circled “X” button at the bottom to the right of the key sequence to remove it, then OK to apply the changes. You could also just reassign a new shortcut here as well. Ctrl-A is standard, but if you don’t typically use it, you won’t notice the loss, and of course the command will still be available from the Edit menu.

As far as recovering the work already lost to this, there are two things to try. If the document was an older one you were adding new text to, there’s a good chance it was saved in an automatic backup when you last closed the project, so you’d be able to restore at least some of the text by copying it out of that. If it was newer, you might still be able to recover it by using the Windows file versioning system if you’re on Vista or higher. (This will depend on whether you have the restore points and system backups on and how frequently, but if they run every hour, there’s a shot you’ll be able to recover most of your document.) Along those same lines, if you happen to have the project live in Dropbox or another sync software, you can probably use its file versioning system to retrieve and earlier copy of the document. The safest way to do this is to download the older version as a copy (rather than restoring it directly over the file within the project), then just open that in a word processor and copy the text from it to paste into the current empty document in Scrivener.

To restore a backup, open the Backup tab of Tools > Options and click the “Open Backup Folder” button to access your backups in Windows Explorer. Switch to the Details view to sort by the file name or the modified date and find the most recent backup of the project prior to when the text was deleted. Make a copy of that backup and paste it in some temporary location, e.g. the Desktop, so you can open it. (If the backup is a zip file, you will need to right-click and choose “Extract All” to make an editable copy of the contents; alternatively you can double-click to open the zip archive and then drag out the contained ProjectName.scriv folder to extract it.) Rename this project folder to something like “ProjectName-Restored” and then open it alongside your working copy so you can copy and paste the text from one to the other. (You can also just drag files from one binder to the other, but copying and pasting text may be easier in this case since it’s just the one document.) Once you’ve finished, you can close the restored version and then just trash it since you don’t need it any longer.

I actually had this problem three times altogether, but in the Linux version. Once I lost everything and had to rededit/add to a new document pasting from a previously compiled version, and twice I lost chunks of documents I didn’t even have open. I wasn’t typing at the time as far as I can remember. I just opened Scrivener and it was gone. I figured it was a bug since the Linux version is still in beta and all distros are slightly different. But perhaps there’s a bug in the basic coding rather than just the Linux version if the Windows version is also having problems.

I tried to copy this with Crtl and a, it starts a clean document but does not get rid of the original text, I recovered from it by using the left arrow in the editor window top left (previous document) This worked even after closing scriv completely and restarting it. Bringing back the original.