Making backups & new versions very iffy - SOLVED!

When I first started trying Scrivener, the program would hang and crash when trying to close a project. My solution to getting on with some work was turning off auto backups. Since then, I’ve been doing manual backups, all the zip files going into a folder of their own. But now that’s not working - I keep getting the error message to the effect that a backup file can’t be created.

When I open my project, everything’s been fine, data as it should be, and ready to go where I left off. But naturally I need to make sure to be saving intelligently, not relying on just one constantly updated version. So now I’ve been Saving As when I’ve done enough editing that it would be safer to have a new version saved.

I was surprised to see that Scrivener doesn’t allow a new version to be kept in the same folder like most programs. I’m accustomed to a project folder with “project-1” “project-2” etc, as many updated versions as I want. I have to keep making new folders with the new versions. Is that the way it’s supposed to work?

So now I’m relying completely on having a new Save As copy when I stop working for the day - I’ve had to give up on Backups, since the auto backups hang and crash the program, and the manual ones aren’t being allowed anymore. It’s all a bit clumsy - but hopefully my work is safe.

Any thoughts on any of this - Solutions to problems, ideas for simpler approach etc?


How much disk space do you have? If Scrivener reports that a backup can’t be created, that usually indicates some sort of error on the destination disk, often either lack of space or a permissions problem. You might also check to see if unzipped backups work, in case there’s an issue with the ZIP utility on your system. It would definitely be a good idea to track this issue down, rather than just working around it.

With Scrivener, the project.scriv folder is your project. In addition to the .scrivx index file, the folder contains all your work, all your custom settings, everything. So no, Scrivener won’t nest another project inside it, and doing so manually would be a very bad idea.

In addition to backups created by or within Scrivener itself, it would be a good idea to use third-party backup software to protect all of your data. I mostly work on the Mac, so I don’t know what the best Windows-based solutions are these days. But remember that it won’t matter how many backups you have on the local disk, you’ll still lose data if that disk fails or is stolen.


Thank you for your helpful reply, Katherine.

Not being able to manually make a backup has been solved. It was a disc space error on my part.

But now I’ve tested one of the backups, and after unzipping, it doesn’t work. There’s no .scriv file included, just Files>Docs>various .rtf files. SO - my default Zip program which always works for me isn’t working with Scrivener?

Being accustomed to Versioning of projects, I’ve continued to make new project files with Save As. AND I store copies on external drives, so I don’t need a 3rd party program, they’re safe enough outside the computer. BUT these Save As updated versions of the project are absolutely HUGE - over 9 gigs each?! How can a word processor type folder of files add up to that much? It will be impossible to keep backing up my work this way, with new, numbered versions, since I want to make new versions every day. My disc space would be eaten up in no time for just one project. – ?

By the way, I tried un-checking “make zip” when making a backup, and of course then it made another 9+gig folder.— crazy.


Are you using Scrivener’s internal backup command to make the backups?

9 GB for a project file is pretty large. Unless you have lots of images or research files, I would worry that there’s something else in the project folder that doesn’t belong there. You might try using Windows Explorer to sort the various sub-folders by size and see what’s there.


I’ll take a stab at this. Hope the following is coherent.

While a project appears/behaves as a single thing within Scrivener, at the Windows file system level, a project is actually a folder (name ending in .scriv) that contains subordinate files (including the index file whose name ends in .scrivx) and subfolders. Opening a project, whether in Scrivener’s File > Open or via launching from Windows Explorer, involves opening/launching the .scrivx file. Scrivener uses the .scrivx file’s location and contents to open and manage the other material in the project’s .scriv folder. On the Apple Macintosh, this is hidden from the user by OS X and the project folder is presented to users as though it is a single file. Regardless of Windows or Macintosh, one should not manually add material to the project folder outside of Scrivener (for example via Windows Explorer) and one should not attempt to save new versions or backups a project within the project’s folder.

Within Scrivener, one can think of a project as a single thing.
Outside of Scrivener, think of a project as a folder containing a database, comprised of a collection of files and subfolders, the contents of which should never be messed with outside of Scrivener. No manually adding or messing via Windows Explorer. No attempting to create projects or backups within existing project folders.

So, spinning off a new copy/version of a project involves making a copy of the project .scriv folder and its contents, elsewhere than in the original/source project folder. As an example, let’s assume a project MyNovelV22.scriv that exists within one’s Documents folder.
To spin off a new version of the project “in the same place”, one could File > Save As from within Scrivener, as MyNovelV23.scriv. Looking inside the Documents folder, one would then see two project folders at the same level, MyNovelV22.scriv and MyNovelV23.scriv. Not one within the other.
To copy the project elsewhere, perhaps for backup purposes, might or might not require a different name, depending on whether a copy of the original/source project is already present there.

If your regular uncompressed project .scriv folder is 9+gig in size, my guesses would include that your project may actually be that large (deliberately contain some large files (pictures and other large files)) or may accidentally contain other material/versions/backups incorrectly added into the project folder.

If the project is legitimately that large, options may include just living with it, putting the large material (especially if is pretty much static) off in a separate project (one can launch more than one instance of Scrivener and view multiple projects simultaneously), or placing such material elsewhere outside the project and linking to it within the project (see 15.5.2 Linked Inline Images in the Scrivener manual).

Whether creating a compressed (zipped) backup of a project from within Scrivener or externally via a compression utility, the project .scriv folder and its contents are compressed into a single physical file.
Decompressing/unzipping the .zip file back into useable format results in recreation of the .scriv folder and its contents.
After which one would open the now decompressed project by navigating into the project’s .scriv folder and then opening/launching the .scrivx file. Holds true whether opening from within Scrivener or launching from Windows Explorer.

If the project is incorrectly that large, I would suggest emailing Scrivener tech support for assistance.

Hope that is of some assistance.

P.S. Whoops, looks like kewms responded while I was typing the above. I defer to kewms. Good luck.

Well! I am labeling my post SOLVED. kewms, SpringfieldMH, and Katherine, you are all champs. Your replies encouraged me to slow down and look more carefully. I had been so bent on working on my project, I hadn’t taken careful enough notice of what was going on with my Scrivener project files.

Learning a new program can be humbling. Stupid User Errors can be easy to make, and I clumsily made a mistake which has been messing me up ever since I started learning Scrivener earlier this month.

For the sake of other people who may make a similar mistake and are looking for info:

–I mistakenly thought Scrivener was referencing imported files like video, not actually copying them. That’s what I’m accustomed to in programs like my video editor. But instead, Scrivener actually makes a copy into the project master folder so all assets are tidily in one place.

–On day one of using the program, I had imported a 2 hour video in order to transcribe it via the great split screen tool. BUT the original copy of the video was too large and didn’t play back well. It’s 9 gigs in size. THAT is what was making all my versions of the project so gigantic. Duh.

–I had made a small cell-phone quality copy of the video for transcribing. It’s only 248 MBs in size. I had dragged the original large video into Scrivenr’s trash - BUT that didn’t delete the file inside the project file.

–Since my versions of the project don’t have the original large video in the left hand menu of assets, this morning I deleted those video copies directly via Windows Explorer. The project versions still opened perfectly, because they didn’t expect to find that original video file anymore.

–Now my project versions are all 249 MBs, which is still large, but the scratch video copy I now use is 248 MBs - so the text alone for the project is only 1 MB at this point!

–Backups now work. Once that absurdly large video was gone, making Backups is a breeze, they’re made instantly, and when unzipping and testing the results, they open up perfectly.

As you guys explained, a major difference between Scrivener and other programs we may be used to, is that the folder IS the project. When we do enough edits to warrant a new version, doing a Save As creates an entirely new folder. Scrivener doesn’t provide for multiple .scriv files to be inside one folder, all accessing the same set of folders - Files, Icons etc. Fine. It works, and is tidy.

SO all problems I’ve ever had with Scrivener are cleared up at this point. Thank you all again.