Hoping against hope that someone can help me out of a real mess. As impossible as it sounds, my computer died and then the backup flashdrive broke in half and THEN the backup to the backup flashdrive stopped reading and can’t be fixed. I still have plenty of Scrivener files (thousands of duplicates!), just not the right ones. There are a few files might be helpful – at least they were created in 2014. The problem with those is that they’re all showing up empty. And adding to the confusion, every time I open one of them to see what’s in it, the computer shows it from now on with today’s date.

Naturally, I went to my backups to see what was there and had a rude shock. First of all, it was set to save only 25 copies (beat head against wall) but far worse all 25 are from today when I’ve been opening worthless empty folders. All those nice looking little backup popups when you open and close a file – oh boy.

So, I think I’m up the creek without a paddle, but hoping maybe someone out there knows a way to make these files cough up the data.

Sure will appreciate any help.


Yeowch. You’ve had a bad day. :frowning:

Where are the backups you’re looking at that are all from today? If this is on your computer and you’re running Vista or later, you might be able to use the Windows backup system to restore the previous files. Check out this MS article.

If that’s out, could you clarify what files you’re looking at that were created in 2014 but are showing up empty? Are these RTF files from within your projects that are appearing empty when loaded in Scrivener, or are you looking at the dates on the .scriv folders for different projects…?

Hi MM:

Thanks for writing back with the suggestion. I visited the site and accessed some previous versions but they only go as far back as a month. I’ve upped the amount of space for backups so that’s one positive note at least.

As far as the files, they’re all scriv, not compiles. I do have some compiles, just as I do have some scriv files, just not the ones I need. Those that are opening blank might contain the text I’m looking for which is why it’s such a disappointment to find them empty. :frowning:

Any other thoughts?

p.s. One thing – the files ARE showing as having some content in terms of computer space.

Hi again MM:

I just went to another (?) backup file and found lots of backups in compressed form but something is preventing me from opening them. This is the error message I get:

Cannot access.
File is not writable. Access is denied.
Auto-saves needs write permission to your project.

This is the location: Local Disk © Users Jane My Documents Backups

Any suggestions as to how I might get these to open?

Many thanks, as always,

Hi Jane,

For the compressed backups, the error message looks like you’re trying to open them from within the zipped folder, which means they’re read-only. Scrivener needs to be able to save to the project files as soon as it opens in order to save interface state changes and so forth and keep everything in sync, so it can’t open files that are read-only. All you need to do though is extract a copy of the project from the zipped folder. To do this, either right-click the zipped folder and choose “Extract All” or double-click the folder to open it and then drag out the contained .scriv folder to another location. You can then open the extracted project in Scrivener as normal.

Regarding the other, uncompressed projects that are opening blank, are you seeing the proper binder structure and just no text loading in the editor, or does the whole binder look like it’s missing your work? You can try checking the RTF files in the Files/Docs folder by opening them directly in another word processor (to avoid accidentally saving the file from that other program and potentially eliminating Scrivener-specific data, you may want to make a copy of the file first, and the open the copy). If all’s well, you’ll see your text, which means worst case scenario you can still piece things together from these files even if the project itself is irreparably harmed. Usually though we can pull a project back together with just a few of the internal structural files as long as your text documents themselves are sound. So check on those first, and your backups, and then you can take stock of what you’ve got and what needs to be restored.

Okay, I’ve randomly sampled them. Some (the wrong ones) do open but the others don’t. And the ones that don’t HAVE files because I see them being exrtracted.

Complicating it is that Scrivener keeps assigning the current date to each file as it’s opened, so I have no genuine reference points, just this vast sea of files with today’s or yesterday’s dates. This is becoming a HUGE problem.

The files that are missing text – the binder is showing with all the annotated tabs but there’s no data, no verbiage.

I’ve been opening compiles but so far nothing that’s helping. And I’m on a serious deadline, to boot. (Plus, I’ve been sneaking a little wine to cope with all of this. :slight_smile: )

Maybe this has to be chucked into the unsolvable bin and I just need to start over. AAAAGH.

Thanks for the suggestions, MM. I always seem to draw you when I have problems to report. Your help has been invaluable over the years.


Egads. I have another serious problem. Scrivener won’t allow me to save the file I’m working on. I did save a compile but that’s it. OMG–what is going on???


Ok, backing up a bit:

Do you mean you’ve tried opening the project’s RTF files in another program and some just won’t open? I’m talking specifically about drilling down into ProjectName.scriv/Files/Docs in the Windows file browser and looking at the numbered rich-text files in that (while the project isn’t open in Scrivener). If these files aren’t opening at all, it sounds like they’re corrupted. That sort of thing could happen if the project were open when the computer crashed, but that wouldn’t affect multiple copies of the project unless the copies you’re looking at were made after the crash. Try making a copy of one of the RTF files and opening it in Notepad. If all’s well, you’ll see a bunch of RTF code mingled with your text; if it’s kaput, but does open, you might see nothing or a lot of garbage characters. Any luck?

This is going to be a problem just extracting backups from zipped archives, actually, so what I’d suggest is renaming the extracted project before you open it in Scrivener and put the date in the name, e.g. if you’re extracting a backup of “My Novel.scriv”, rename the folder “My Novel_14Apr2014.scriv” or such before you open it in Scrivener. That will also make sure none of the backups you’re opening and looking at push out your real project’s backups. (Given that you said this already happened earlier, it’s not really a problem now, but it’s good practice for the future.)

If you’re dealing with other copies of the project that weren’t saved originally as zipped backups, you can likewise just rename them with a date if they aren’t already.

Do you mean you’re getting an error message when the auto-save runs? If so, could you attach a screenshot of the message? Meanwhile you should be able to copy and paste any text from the document you’re editing and save that in another program so you own’t lose anything. I’m not clear though if that’s what you mean. What are you doing and what’s happening that shouldn’t (or not happening that should)?

Hi Jennifer:

On deadline for 2 days. Back to this on Friday. Thanks so much.


Hi again, MM:

Well, after a 2-day hiatus, I’m trying to get my head back around this. Here’s what I’ve done today. Opened the following file:

C:\Users\Jane\Documents\ALL BOOKS\ESCAPE TO PANAMA\ESCAPE TO PANAMA1\ALL 2014 FILES\3-24-14.scriv

and landed in a binder with tabs filled out but zero data.

I’ve also had the same result with another similar file.

However, I have been able to open some of the compressed files, so that’s good. Unfortunately, they’re v ery early files so they’re not really doing me much good. Will keep trying the various solutions you suggested. Unfortunately, these pesky deadlines for other things are insinuating themselves, but will get to them all and hopefully in time to report back here.

Many thanks for your help,

Hi MM:

I went into the backup files as you suggested. Unfortunately, more bad news there. For some reason, when I open a compressed file now, the data must be there because I can see files being opened during the process, but when I click on project, nothing happens at all. Since I’m having these new symptoms, I’m wondering if perhaps I need to uninstall and reinstall Scrivener. Any thoughts? I’m now at the drop dead point where I MUST work, so am picking the most recent Scriv file I can open and using it. Not what I would have preferred but I’m out of time. However, if you think the program as installed on my computer might be corrupt, I don’t want to commit any new work to it. Will be very interested to see what you think about uninstall/reinstall.

Many thanks, as always,

I doubt that the Scrivener installation is affecting this, but certainly you can do an uninstall and fresh install just to put your mind at ease. Doing so will clear your preferences settings, so you may want to go into Tools > Options and use the Manage menu button to save your settings, then reload them from there after the reinstall. (Otherwise, make sure you go to Options and reset at least your backup preferences, since you had changed them following the whole computer backup snafu.)

I’m still not quite clear exactly what you’re doing with the files and backups, though–it still sounds like you’re trying to open the backups in Scrivener, so I’m not sure if you’ve tried accessing the text files inside the .scriv folder outside of Scrivener (with the project not open in Scrivener at all). The point is to bypass all the rest of the project pieces that Scrivener needs to open and arrange in order to show your text and to just take a look at the individual text files directly, to determine whether or not the text is even in there and accessible. As a side benefit, if it is, you’ve got a way to access your text while working on restoring the project. Just copy all the text files from the project’s Files\Docs folder to somewhere you can open them in Word and work with them, then re-import them later.

Compressed files are read-only, so in some cases it’s perfectly normal that they won’t be able to open or won’t display content in the Windows Explorer preview area and so forth. There are other situations too which could prevent Scrivener opening the file, e.g. if there were multiple project.scrivx files or other duplicate files within the project, that might prevent Scrivener opening the project. That’s usually something you get from a failed sync when people are sharing a project across multiple computers with Dropbox or the like, so I’m not sure it’s relevant to your situation here, but the point is just that there are some easily fixed circumstances where a project might not open without meaning it is unsalvageable.

If you have a couple backups you think might be worthwhile but are having trouble getting open or seeing the text in, you can send them over to windows.support AT literatureandlatte DOT com. Mark it ATTN: Jennifer and it will get to me.

Jennifer, I didn’t realize there were Word docs inside the Scriv files. Went back and looked at some. I think these will prove helpful. At least I can consult them if needed and do as you say – import them into a Word doc and work on them there. Will perhaps hold off for the moment on the uninstall since you don’t seem to think the program is causing these glitches. Will hold that in reserve if any future problems crop up.

Many thanks for the info. This is really great to know! :mrgreen: