One project, multiple Devices (Windows desktop, Windows Laptop, and iPad Pro)

Hello everyone,

[tl;dr - I’m wondering if a source control solution like Git would be the answer, or is there a far less complex solution?]

I’ve used Scrivener for a while, but I’ve never quite got the hang of the logistics of working a single project on multiple devices.

My ideal use case is this:

  • Work throughout the day on my Windows desktop.
  • At night, when my wife and I usually move to a different room, open my Windows laptop and pick up where I left off.
  • Occasionally, it would be nice to edit/write on my iPad, but that’s not strictly necessary. Getting the desktop/laptop combo working is the ideal solution.

This would really solve some time issues that I have. Do I need to consider using external hard drives, or is there a better way?

I’m willing to try cloud services, but I’ve had some really bad experiences with them. One time, while syncing multiple devices via Google Drive, I accidentally overwrote a copy of a manuscript on one of my laptops with a blank version of the same project. Before I could do much of anything, Google Drive had gleefully synced the blank version to the rest of my devices. The only thing that saved me was that I had a laptop that was powered down, so I pulled the NIC and fired it up. I was able to retrieve my working copy that way. I’ve been using Carbonite for backups ever since, but that’s not really a syncing solution in the sense of cloud services.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

The official answer to the question is that iOS Scrivener uses Dropbox for synchronization with Mac/PC Scrivener.

For PC-only synchronization, most of the cloud services work similarly and will give acceptable results, subject to some caveats and best practices discussed here:
Please also read the advisories linked from that article for whichever service you use. In particular, we have found Google Drive to be unreliable for Scrivener projects and do not recommend it.

The specific risk of accidentally overwriting projects and having the change proliferate is inherent in how cloud services are intended to work. An alternative approach can substantially reduce the risk:


Many thanks! I’ll read those tonight! I’ll be happy with any solution that lets me finish what I’m doing on my home office desktop and pick up again on a laptop in my bedroom (and vice versa the following morning).

You could also leave out commercial services entirely and use a shared volume on a home network if you have one. Just be sure to update the network drive from the laptop if you take it elsewhere to work.

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With the network drive solution, do you recommend using it in an automated fashion (making it the official storage location and opening the project directly from there)? Or, do you recommend something similar to the Dropbox suggestion, where you use it purely as a backup/sync location but work on the project out of a different directory?

Not sure if I asked that clearly. Let’s say I have Machine A (desktop), Machine B (laptop), and Machine/Drive C (a LAN drive I’m using for storage). Do you recommend both A and B grab the project directly from C when Scrivener opens the project? Or, should I first copy the backup that’s stored on C to a local directory for actual work, then make sure both instances of Scrivener are backing up to C?

Just a heads up: don’t confuse “backup” with “live Scrivener project”. The live Scrivener project is what you are working on; the backups are the preferably zipped and time named file that you set from the Options to be stored in a specific location, and which are set to be created when you close or open the project, and when you choose “Back up now” from the menu.

Backups are set to keep 5 by default. For better security, set that to 25 or above and save the backups from each machine to a different folder/location. In your situation, I’d have them stored locally on each machine, either in the default location or in a folder/directory in Documents that you name appropriately.

Do not save live projects and backups in the same folder/directory!

To share your project between the two machines, it is the live project, “project name.scriv”—the whole folder with all its contents!—that you should move over to your NAS drive. Again for safety, the best way to do that is to use File > Backup to… to create a zipped version there, and then unzip it when it’s on the NAS drive.

And to make sure you don’t end up working on the current version(s), as soon as you’re sure the NAS version is working, I’d delete the other(s) from the local drive(s).