Lost Chapter of Project - Unexplained failed save/sync to Dropbox

I opened up a novel that I’ve been working on in Scrivener a few days ago to discover that my most recent work from last week has vanished. I wrote for several hours on 1/8/2019, finished around 5pm, and saved and exited Scrivener as usual. I have Dropbox sync set up as I sometimes write on my iPad as well. I haven’t opened Scrivener or written anything on either my PC or my iPad since 1/8/2019.

Upon discovering that my last chapter had vanished, I combed through various threads on the support forums, Google searches, and other sources, and I’m still not sure what happened. Everything else about the Scrivener project is otherwise intact and as I left it, with the exception of the new content I added between approximately 2pm and 5pm on 1/8/2019. I know this because there are several Dropbox backup files timestamped around 2pm. At that time, I was tinkering around with previous chapters, making small edits, before moving on to creating new content. All of the small edits I made on previous chapters are backed up in Scrivener and in DropBox.

However, there is no record of the chapter I wrote afterwards, despite my memory of it and knowing that I saved. I also marked the chapter as complete on my novel outline (in a separate program), so this is not just a case of me mis-remembering. I can’t find a single backup file on Dropbox or on my PC through Scrivener stamped with the time that I know I completed the chapter. On the Dropbox website, I can see an Event from 3:54pm on that day that says I edited the novel file, but I can’t click on any links or anything to view that version.

Nothing about the way I use Scrivener has changed that would lead me to think I made some sort of error.

It was a 3,000+ word chapter that I would really like to get back. I’ve never had an issue like this before, and frankly, it’s very alarming. I’ve already lost several days of work time looking into this issue, which is going to set me back significantly. I have some memory of what the chapter involved, and I will try to re-write it, but as you can imagine, it won’t be the same,

Is there any way I can go about retrieving this file? Any guidance on this would be greatly appreciated.

Hi TieraGreene,

Sorry to hear you may have lost work. :frowning:

So Scrivener made no zipped backup when you closed it on 1/8 5 PM? Do you have Scriv set to backup on close?

Are you absolutely positively sure you didn’t inadvertently move the chapter to the wrong folder, or delete it? Have you checked Scriv trash? Maybe do a search on some text that might be in your missing chapter.

One other thing you might try to do is look through your DropBox versions. Before doing so, make a manual backup, and while you’re at it, change your Scrivener zipped backup setting to save all copies for the moment.

From a browser, log into your DropBox account, click Files on left, drill down into your folders until you find your project. Double click on your .scriv folder, your Files folder, your Docs folder. Sort your files by Modified date, and try to find your text. You can click on a doc to view the text. You can select a doc and then view version history by clicking on the “…” to the right.

Hope that helps. Please report back and let us know. If I come up with any other ideas, I’ll post them.


I do have Scrivener set to backup on close. It appears that no backup was made when I closed the project on 1/8.

I don’t have any reason to believe I would’ve moved the chapter to another folder or deleted it. As far as I can remember, I finished writing, saved, and exited Scrivener as usual. There’s no trace of the chapter in my Scrivener trash folder.

I’ve looked through my DropBox versions as well, and there’s nothing. :frowning:

This is rarely the case, but I always ask… did you do a File->Save As of your project at any point before writing your new chapter? If you did, it’s possible that the new text is in that copy even if you thought you were writing in the original copy.

Just for completeness, try going to the Scrivener backups folder and sorting by date. See if there’s a backup that’s oddly named. I’ve never heard of Scrivener failing to make a backup when it’s set to, except if you click/hit enter on the “cancel” button while it’s creating the backup. And the chances of Scrivener just NOT writing your chapter to the hard drive is almost nil, as it does that every time you pause for a couple of seconds.

One other thing to try: Go to your .scriv project folder and search for files with conflicted in their names. If you find that, then something odd happened with Dropbox, and that’s where your missing chapter text is.

Good luck.

Just to make sure… are you talking about backups or about your live project? Those are two completely different things. Backups are as default (I think) zip files and can’t be opened by Scrivener, whereas the project is a folder with the .scrivx file inside it.
And Dropbox really shouldn’t have anything to do with this because if you opened the project on the same computer where you last worked on it, it is the same version on your HD as when you last closed the project. Whether those files where uploaded to Db or not is essentially irrelevant.

Did you search for the project outside of Scrivener, using the ordinary file system?

I’m grasping here, but I guess it can’t hurt to ask: your profile mentions “Mac”, and you didn’t mention a Mac in your description of events. Have you done any work on your Mac recently?