My novel is gone.

I just opened Scrivener and my story came up with all the folders but no text, nothing, not even my cork board cards. I thought OK no worries there is a back up file on my memory key,so I selected to open that file from the menu, it was also blank. I then tried to open my automatic backup files, they were also blank. The lines for scene breaks and chapter breaks are there but no story, and I don’t know how to get it back, or if I can, or what caused it. My husband switched to his account on the computer and may not have shut it down first would that cause this?

Azarial, I’m so very sorry that you’ve lost work. Normally I’d first send you to check the automatic backups, but since it sounds like you have already done that and found that they weren’t useable, my suggestion, if you are running Windows Vista or higher, is to try to restore the project folder via the Windows versioning system. (Regarding the automatic backups, though, did you check all of them or just the most recent? Scrivener by default will save up to five backups, so I would definitely try copying all of them out of the backups folder and going through them, since it may be that the newer ones got overwritten with the blank project files but older ones are fine.) Microsoft’s support page on this for Vista is here; you can easily search for the appropriate OS version there. I’d make a copy of your project folder first before restoring an earlier version; that way if you have newer work in there you will be able to drag it back into the restored project or otherwise use it as a reference to bring the restored version up to speed, and in either case you’ll have it for further triage if necessary.

I’d also take a look into your project folder’s Files\Docs folder and check whether it contains a bunch of numbered text documents. If these are missing, or if they are otherwise named, that could help determine what caused the problem and, potentially, another way to fix it.

I wouldn’t think that switching user accounts on Windows would cause this kind of problem, but I suppose if something hosed in the process or the computer shut down entirely while the project was open, that could certainly do damage. Moving your project while it’s open is the typical cause this sort of problem; in that case, you’d likely have two versions of the project saved on your computer, one at the new location and one at the old, with some files in each. We also had a few reports back on 1.2.5 that using Save As or Back Up could cause documents to be saved incorrectly and go blank. Since it’s not clear what caused the problem here, you might want to try using the Windows search to look for the project name or the project folder’s “.scriv” extension to find all the Scrivener projects on your computer and see if there are any duplicates. If this has happened, we can work to merge the files back into a single project. You could also try searching specifically for text within the project, which may find some numbered rich-text documents belonging to the project, and we can hunt them out and restore them to their proper location.

Along those lines, I suggest upgrading to 1.5.3 if you haven’t already. In addition to other enhancements, the new version better detects if project files are open in Scrivener to help prevent external changes while Scrivener is using them (and thus causing problems). It also has improvements to the general text saving routines which should make the process more robust.