Might want to make Scriv a bit more forgiving to non geeks

I post this here getting a chuckle out of the fact this place uses a forum software a host of people spent two years teaching me how to use, bit of irony considering why i’m here today.

Was working on my first NaNo ever and venturing into first novel from several years of short story writing, and went to move my scriv work into a directory specifically for this novel, so all notes, links, suggestions, comments would all be in one place and…

All text data and notes on notecards within the binder are all now deleted. Even the three backup files were blank. But yet the entire binder is still intact (near as I can tell at least).

Near as I can figure this was because of my combined lack of skill with software, autism, amnesia issues when anxious, etc. all contributing with a quirk in the scriv backup system basically copied over every backup the emptied out file I was staring in horror at.

Though in the past I could understand Word, Open Office, Word Perfect well enough to make multiple copies and have many backups (due to my PTSD hyper-vigilance I must have many copies to maintain my sense of control or I plow into panic attacks), but I had trusted Scriv’s constant auto saving to protect me. I had trusted scriv for over two years, even though I hardly understand anything of its structure, most of its features left me in panic attacks when I tried to read up on them, use or comprehend them, but I still trusted and used it because I knew in time I could learn everything I needed.

And now my NaNo has been deleted because I was given an error code “if you move this file all associated links will be lost” and it didn’t give me a “cancel” option to prevent what turned out to be a catastrophic loss of data. I still only have a guess how this wiped all backups. I had the original wiped scriv open as I opened each SIMILARLY NAMED backup, so i’ll guess it was writing over each as I went along or something. This is only a guess.

Not sure if i’m going to continuing using scriv now due to how volatile it is with someone of my lack of technical skills. Though I cannot write something novel sized in Word or OO, due to not being able to trust the backup system to not just wipe out all data the moment I make a mistake in the original, and I have no idea how to make repeat copies of the same “file” like I could in Word and OO… sighs I have really loved nosing around and trying to learn scriv. I’m gonna hate having to give it up and go back to OO (Word can rot in hxxx, lol).

I don’t expect anyone to help or fix this, but I’m floating one point at the scriv team: might want to think about user friendliness for those with learning disorders. Out of my paygrade to even suggest how to do that or if it is even feasible.

But just food for thought.

I’m very sorry to hear you’ve had such a difficult time! I’m not quite sure what the error message is that you’re referring to–it doesn’t sound familiar as a Scrivener warning, but maybe it’s just not ringing bells for me right now–but I suspect that what happened is you moved a single file, the yellow-icon “project” file, out of the project’s .scriv folder and tried to open it elsewhere. That file is the backbone of the project, containing the binder structure, the titles and meta-data like labels and status, which is why you still saw all of that, though none of the document text was visible. The text is all saved as separate files within the project folder.

The good news here is that unless you went on a deleting spree, it’s unlikely your project is really lost. All you need to do is move the project file back into its original .scriv folder and you should have everything in place again. Then if you want to move the project to a different location, make sure it’s closed in Scrivener and then move the entire .scriv folder. So for instance if your project is named “My Novel” you should have a folder called “My Novel.scriv”. You want to move that entire folder, not just the “project” file inside it.

If you can’t find the folder, try using the Windows search using the name of the project or, if you can’t remember the exact title, some unique text from the project. For the latter you might get some document files returned with numbers for names; these would be text files from within the project folder, so you can check where they are located and find the project folder that way. (For instance a document would normally be in ProjectName.scriv\Files\Docs, so if you find a text file called “32”, you can right-click and choose “Open file location” and check the file browser’s address bar to see where the file’s ProjectName.scriv folder is stored.) If you need some help, just let us know where you’re getting stuck. I don’t want to try to give too many options of directions or it will just get more confusing. :slight_smile:

Finally, if all else fails, do you have Windows backups running? You could probably restore an older copy of the project from those or via the “previous versions” feature on Windows.

If you prefer, you can email at windows.support AT literatureandlatte DOT com rather than using the forums.

Due to asking an admin friend a LOT of questions while he helped me update a mediawiki I already suspected this was how scriv worked and why I suspected the severing of those data file links was the problem.

First, I did move the whole “novel” folder, not just the project file. Two, near as the others can tell I did it WHILE scrivener was running in the background. Third, drumroll please: I shift + del the original as I moved this to some place that only allows copies unless you cut + paste.

Short short version here: the thing/event that caused my psychiatric issues left me with a wonderful self harm subconscious “thing-y” and I have to assume this was its way to sabotage a thus far very successful NaNo start to a novel I have wanted to work on for six years. Because normally, due to some bad experiences on windows 17, 18 years ago, I copy then paste anything I’m moving or backing up, so if something glitches (like ohhhh a brief brownout) I still have the original to try again from. This time I have this blurry memory of moving the folder and deleting the original before testing/confirming successful copy. And since it is a blurry memory… really good chance that mechanism was trying to delete it and got caught.

And sadly I have never figured out how to use backup in windows without 9+ panic attack due to major lack of trust in others to do something out of my control. All part of the package, lol.

But! Thank you. I’m more used to people deleting these types of threads than helping. I will take a great deal more caution with the reboot of the project. Thankfully the ones on the helpful side of the coin once they know of a trick by those trying to harm me, they usually are able to block it next time.

Ouch. I’m really sorry. You shouldn’t have been able to do that. Moving a project while it’s open will cause problems (not necessarily irreversible ones, but definitely a mess that needs to be cleaned up) but because of this, a message comes up saying that the folder is in use if you try to do it. You shouldn’t be able to get any further until you’ve closed the project in Scrivener, at which point moving it wouldn’t be a problem. So it sounds like something went wrong there if you were able to get around that.

I tried some cut/paste and drag and drop to move some test project folders but got the prevention error every time. Do you happen to recall exactly what you did when moving the folder? I’d really like to sort out why there wasn’t a flag to keep it from happening if the action alone was destined for trouble.

Now, it could be that for some other reason a valid copy action failed. If it’s a large project, something could have just gone wrong with copying all the contents of the folder to the new location. In which case there’s not really anything Scrivener could have done to prevent it.

Are you sure the Windows backups aren’t on? I’m not sure, but I think that the most recent versions of Windows enable the backups/restore points by default if there’s sufficient storage space on the hard drive. It may be a long shot, but given this is your novel you’re talking about, it seems worth checking into–maybe some of your techy friends can be bribed to come over and check it out for you. If the Windows backups are on, it’s a pretty good bet you can recover a least some of the project from the original location. I’m assuming you don’t have any other system backups running, or a recent backup of your personal stuff since you started the NaNo project, but of course if you do that’s something else to try.

For moving forward, check out the Backup settings in Tools > Options. You can increase the number of backups saved and when they’re saved, so you can make sure that’s set optimally for your work habits. Make sure the backups are saving somewhere that you’re also backing up regularly to an external drive with your other personal documents so that you get another copy of them, too. Some people like to direct these to a folder that automatically sync with another computer or online storage like Dropbox, Cubby, SpiderOak, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc. If you use anything like that, you may want to consider it; if you don’t, or you have concerns with keeping backups of your novel there, using File > Back Up > Back Up To… within Scrivener to save backups occasionally to a USB stick or such is another way to make sure you’ve got a backup on a different hard drive.

However things fall out with restoring the original version of the project, I wish you the best with the continuation/reboot.

Apologies, took a full day to deal with replying and the panic attack I got while answering the first time. Thus why what I named this thread and considering how “these things affect” those with disabilities and/or learning disorders.

Yeah, that is the creepy part in this, that this should not be possible, for any number of reasons, windows and any data base based software out there should have prevented this. Not blaming scrivener, because strange things like this have happened to me before, many times.

First off, I’m on win XP. Second, this project is stored within a larger current projects folder that is within a brief case type folder. I started using that years ago because once I made it I was too scared to get rid of it and rammifications to the works within (organizational matters are a major panick attack trigger is the bigger reason). Third, I copy > moved it to another folder still within the same brief case.

Normally there should have been a window telling me “copying, x sec/min left” but no such window came up that I saw/remember. Bad thing is I remember shift + del at the same time as copy + pasting, which means my memories were played (the dissociative stuff causes this sometimes when bad things happen) with because that means I went into a dissociative episode and the memories blurred together. Here is the trick, after the original was shift del I could see in the new folder, files coming up (well one at least, but I could not tell you its name). That means coping and pasting was still going on at the time of deletion, which should have made deletion impossible.

Bad news is this strange “should not be able to happen” type stuff has happened quite a few times through the years. My first cable broad band installation was… the support staff had to make a special case file for how strange a process I had to make to make the installation work, and with them I uninstalled and reinstalled it three times with only my way able to work. IE, whatever sabotages me is very good at these things. Sadly I’ve only become aware of it in the last year, so it is a WIP learning to cope with it.

Though agree this is quite possible, this project was less than 3000 words total in content with only binder, four notecards in the corkboard with notes content, and three text files with the 3000’ish words between writing and notes.

Am on windows XP and backups on here must be enabled, and I have no idea how to access it without deleting my entire current HDD in favor of what is in the backup system. Have never used it except on a friend’s computer years ago when a virus wipped out their system and all backup did was wipe everything and replace that with itself. I cannot afford the loss of 90 gigs of info, particularly since I have no means of practicing how to safely use backup without major damage.

Yeah ummm… sorry, but when you are psychiatric patient, professionals and technical people IRL avoid you like the plague. I am the most tech savvy person around me. I even have google drive and have no idea what you nor others mean by backing up things to there from this. Total mystery to me. You get used to it with learning disabilities, lol.

Considering I had it set to the default of every four seconds, never touched the backup folder path stuff, I’m rather shocked I had no non corrupted data anywhere in the three backups it had made (it is set to have a total of five, but the project just wasn’t old enough I guess to use that many yet). If I had known the 4 second back up did NOTHING until I opened or closed the document as the help files tell me it does… I would have never changed my habits of making copies every time I make a major plot or character change or addition.

I am not wholly use how to use these backup systems, the cloud, etc., because as of now I have a google drive account and have dropped a couple small projects into there, but far as I can see it can only directly backup what you save directly to it. IE, if I don’t put the file I’m working on directly on the g drive folder, it doesn’t backup. And that backup method is IMO a waste of time, because it over-writes all past data each time you save. So if had a major change you did not like, you could not go back/revert.

What I’m getting at, is that though these auto save functions like Scriv and the cloud make good protection from electrical brown outs, BSOD data loss, etc., they are useless as project level backups due to you over-write your source material each time it saves. But now that I know of this weakness I will be going back to my past habits of having multiple copies of projects, so I can revert to previous version if for example the current scene exploration doesn’t work out.

Again, Thank you for your help.

Sorry for the late reply! I had written this but apparently not posted.

Going through your latest post, there are a few points that could benefit from clarification. First off, auto-save and automatic backups are two separate things. Auto-save is just the regular save routine, like hitting Ctrl+S in Word, overwriting the open document. Scrivener saves regularly as you work in the project, not just the document text, but all the changes you make in the interface as you click around, load different documents, etc. Backups are different. When Scrivener creates an automatic backup, it saves a complete copy of the entire project to another location (wherever is specified in the Backup tab of Tools > Options), and it will create a new, separate copy each time the backup is run. If you’ve set a limit on how many backups to keep, eventually a project’s newest backup will replace the oldest backup of the project. (It’s always per project; one project’s backup would never replace another project’s backup.)

Automatic backups by default are created when you close a project, but you can change the settings to create a backup when the project is opened or when you manually save (so essentially Ctrl+S becomes a shortcut for making an automatic backup). You can also choose File > Back Up > Back Up Now at any time to run the auto-backup routine.

You can also create backups via File > Back Up > Back Up To…, which lets you choose the name and location for the backup. This is a handy way to save project backups to an external drive or to create a milestone backup of the project, since manual backups won’t be automatically replaced with a newer copy down the road.

Another feature for saving versions of your document text within the project is the document snapshots. You can create a snapshot of a document before you begin editing it, then load the snapshot in the inspector to compare changes later, copy text out of it, or even restore the snapshot version if you decide you don’t like your changes (you can also create a new snapshot before restoring, in case you change your mind again). You can manage a document’s snapshots by clicking the camera icon in the inspector footer.

The sync services were just an idea for an easy way to get off-site backups; if you don’t use any or aren’t comfortable with them, it’s certainly not something you need to spend time on. The suggestion was that you’d point your automatic backups to one of these folders, so that when Scrivener saves a new automatic backup, it would then automatically be synced by this other service to your other linked computers and, for most of them, to a company-run server somewhere. It wouldn’t be making any additional backups of your project; it would just replicating the backups to another location.

Saving your active copy of the project in a synchronised folder is a different matter. This can be useful for accessing a project from different machines (never at the same time), but it’s not really a method of backing up a project, and there’s a lot to be careful of if you’re doing this. (We have a knowledge base article on working with sync services here.) I especially advise against keeping your active projects in Google Drive, as we’ve had a number of reports of project corruption from that–Google Drive doesn’t seem to handle Scrivener’s file format well. I’ve been hearing better things recently, so it’s possible Google Drive has developed to a point where this isn’t such a problem, but it’s too soon to say. Especially since this isn’t something you need for sharing a project between machines, it’s safest to avoid it. (Note that this is just about saving the active project to Google Drive. Saving zipped backups there is perfectly fine, if you wanted to do that.)

I hope that clears up some of the confusion about saving and backing up so you’re better armed for forging ahead.