Lost words

I use Scrivener 2.8.1 and I save my project on Dropbox. A few days ago it told me that two copies of Scrivener might be open, and that I might lose material if I didn’t close one. Since only one copy was open–I only use it on my laptop–I went forward. The file that opened was missing a month’s worth of work and updates, revisions of sections, whole sections, etc. ALL OF IT. I posted in the Dropbox section here, but have gotten no useful response. I’ve also emailed Scrivener support and have gotten no response. The file is not in my backup folder.

Here are some things that I did that seemed completely normal, but where Scrivener may have screwed things up:
I compiled into PDF and printed it off another computer without opening Scrivener.
I copied and pasted one section into Word and made a PDF to print.
I moved files around my Dropbox and deleted some old compiles/drafts/duplicates.

I’ve pasted the compile/PDF file into Word, and am working from that now. But I am still jittery and feel totally burned by Scrivener.

What do you mean by ’back up’? Do you mean the backups Scrivener makes as a default when you close the project?
Where do you save your active projects?
When you moved stuff on your Dropbox, how did you do it? Using Finder to handle the Dropbox folder on your Mac? Or using the webb interface to manipulate the Dropbox server directly?

Sorry we haven’t managed to get back with you yet. It’s been the weekend, and on top of that we’re a few days behind the curve still, with the big launch and all.

I have a few questions, and hopefully in investigating them they help you track things down:

Does that mean you have the folder in the Backup preference pane pointed at Dropbox? Is the project itself also on Dropbox?

While looking at the preference pane, how do you have things set up there? Since you mention opening the project on your Mac when this happened, that probably means it was closed recently, and under default settings that would mean a backup should have been created automatically. Despite, you have this to say:

There is nothing at all? Again defaults would be to have at least five redundant copies of the project from the last five times you closed the project. Are backups not being created for this project?

If so, is the project in the backup folder? If not, do you have the project excluded from backup in the File ▸ Back Up ▸ submenu?

As to the rest, the only part I’m confused over is how you compiled to PDF on another computer without opening Scrivener on that computer. The other things in your list don’t seem to involve using Scrivener at all, so it is unlikely they have any bearing on the matter.

Backups and all of that aside, if you truly only have one copy of this project in the whole world, then the approach I would take first is to right-click on it in Finder and compress it to .zip. That preserves it in its current state. Now you have two copies—hopefully you’re never reduced to one again!

Now, right-click on the project again and choose “Show Package Contents”. You’re looking for files that Dropbox has tagged conflicted. In particular, is the .scrivx file in the root level of the project folder conflicted? Is one of those conflicts maybe a month old? If so that would explain a good deal. If that’s the one Scrivener is trying to open then it would have a month’s old picture of the project to work from.

It would be worth going through every folder in the project looking for similarly conflicted files. I know you mentioned the project is never opened on the other machine—but it’s still possible for Dropbox to get confused even with only one computer.

My order of priorities would be:

  • Isolating the cause and trying to patch together a repaired copy of the project using the Dropbox conflict data.
  • Before even opening the repaired project once, making sure my backup policies are solid with a couple of test projects. I would want to see new backups created precisely as they are set up to do, verifying they appear on the disk.
  • Ensure backups and working data aren’t all stored in the same basket. If you back up to Dropbox, consider keeping the project local. It’s far less complicated on your disk. Since you never open the project on the other computer, the large increase in complexity (and thus opportunity for machine/human error) for storage is without purpose. For those that want the project accessible in multiple locations, then I would advise keeping backups on each machine local.

The support staff on the previous thread suggested that I look in Scrivener’s backup folder for the lost material. The files there were the defective files.

I save my active project (there is only one, divided into parts) on Dropbox on my laptop,

I used Finder when moving folders in my Dropbox. I did not delete any Scrivener file.

*My priority is to finish my project, sorry. But I wouldn’t mind a refund.

One other possible factor: I was using internet-blocking software around the time of the text loss. The lost version had been saved before my using it (and of course, the blocker was off before I moved to printing and reorganizing. But perhaps there was some unholy interaction between the internet-blocker and the various automatic behaviors of Dropbox and Scrivener.

One more update: It turns out that I haven’t suffered a one-time data loss. Rather, over the past several weeks different sets of revisions have been saved onto different documents. The last Compile I made was also missing revisions. I may try to reassemble it, just to make sure that I haven’t lost material. But how will I prevent it from happening again? This is why I have to abandon the program.

Hmm… Are you using the Save As command routinely? “Fragmented” revisions is exactly what I would expect to see in that case: the Save As command creates a new copy of the project, and continues work in the copy. If you then go back to the “original,” any work done in the copy will be “missing.” If you aren’t aware of the issue, you could easily end up with several different versions of the project, each with a different, seemingly random, set of changes. Putting Dropbox on top if that could create a real mess.

Katherine

And yes, Internet-blocking software could definitely contribute. If the software prevents access to the Dropbox server, then changes can’t be uploaded and the version on the server will quickly fall out of date. Bad enough if the connection is always blocked, potentially worse if it’s sometimes there and sometimes not.

Katherine

No, not using Save As.

Now, right-click on the project again and choose “Show Package Contents”. You’re looking for files that Dropbox has tagged conflicted. In particular, is the .scrivx file in the root level of the project folder conflicted? Is one of those conflicts maybe a month old? If so that would explain a good deal. If that’s the one Scrivener is trying to open then it would have a month’s old picture of the project to work from.

It would be worth going through every folder in the project looking for similarly conflicted files. I know you mentioned the project is never opened on the other machine—but it’s still possible for Dropbox to get confused even with only one computer.

I’m still not sure how to find these conflicts. When I’m looking at the package contents, what does conflict look like? Please advise.

I can see that there are several overlapping projects, each with different files, but I’m not sure how to "patch them together. "

Your posts would be much easier to read if you would call out quotations from earlier in the thread.

Dropbox clearly labels “conflict” files with names like “Conflicted copy of…” You can also use Finder to search for text within the project’s Data subfolder.

The easiest way to move files between projects is to drag and drop IN SCRIVENER. It is NOT safe to drag files between projects directly in Finder. If you identify possible conflict files, you can handle them by dragging them out to the desktop and inspecting with your tool of choice, then reimporting back into Scrivener.

Katherine