Permanent loss of work on freeze crash

I have been using scrivener for many years on windows, and just recently purchased the new version. I usually wouldn’t use software as it’s just been released but I stupidly did this time.

During writing a large body of work my computer froze, I am unsure what caused this, yet I only had the new version of scrivener running and believe it to be the cause as ver 1.9 never caused any freezing issues.

I waited, tried cntrl alt del, unplugged and replugged peripheries, no joy with any response.

Upon reboot I found the file I was working on within the document to have been corrupted. Scrivener put some ‘recovered files’ in the binder but the main piece was still in it’s original place in the binder yet with no title or text.

I have read the forums and seen that AVG may have been causing issues, I have AVG and so I have disabled it and re-installed 3.0 to no avail.

The backup of the work does the same thing, it ‘recovers’ files from the backup without any of the text and so no luck there either.

I have tried opening the ‘content’ file within the project with word’s two ‘fix’ options, if I open the text as a word doc it’s pages and pages of blank squares and no text, if I use words ‘fix’ it I can get it to show gibberish but it’s none of my text.

I’ve tried RTF file fix programs also, I do not know what else to do. I work directly from my folders backed up to Onedrive on windows, I have my backup folder on my hard drive, I did not think this could happen at all.

This was a lot of work that I hadn’t yet split into different texts and so I will be gutted if it’s gone forever, has anyone managed to use any tricks to get the corrupted text back?

I should add the text file is 23kb so there is still data in it.

Oops didn’t see you tried it with the backups. Nevermind. Hope you get it sorted.


Sorry to hear about your crash and the ensuing issues.

Try to find the backup that Scrivener created when you first converted the v1.9 project to v3.0.

It would be a folder with the name of your project, with ‘Backup’ appended. So MyProject.scriv would become MyProject Backup.scriv. Scrivener would have placed this backup folder in the same folder that contained your original project folder.

If you find this backup folder, DON’T open it in Scrivener. Keep that backup folder safe and sound, put it somewhere where you won’t accidently muck it up.

Instead, using Windows File Explorer make a copy of the backup folder and use the copy to move forward. It is your v1.9 project just prior to the v3.0 upgrade. You can open the project in Scrivener v1.9 and continue working using v1.9, or you can open it in Scrivener v3.0, at which point it will be converted to v3.0 format again.

This method won’t help you recover any writing you did after the v3.0 upgrade, but it will get you your pre-v3.0 project back. Hopefully that’s helpful to you.

Good luck.

Thanks for the advice Jim, Unfortunately I was working from a fresh 3.0 file and did not use the ‘convert’. All of the new work was written new in a 3.0 doc.

I don’t really have a choice now than to delete 3.0 and go back to 1.9 because there is absolutely no way I can risk this again, my own fault really, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

I’ve tried everything under the sun to get this ‘content’ rtf file to give me useable words, I cannot think of any other way.

Okay as it seems there is no way to recover my files and this has happened within a week of me using the new version I’ve deleted 3.0 and reverted to 1.9.

Now I see there is no backwards compatibility. Come on guys, I am a fan of the older software but this is not a program like ‘flux’ where if it crashes then no harm really done, this is people’s livelihood.

How a file can get so corrupted during a crash with no backups accessible I do not know, maybe a problem in how this new version writes encryption to RTF? It’s unreal that no written data can be accessed from that RTF because it is so badly damaged. I refund will be a drop in the ocean at this point compared to the days I’ve lost in writing and trying to recover the file.

Many windows users waited for this but it has been terribly ported. Anyone reading this who values safety in their work should be aware that losing their work is a real possibility using 3.0.0, it has not been adequately ported to PC from mac.

Please open a support ticket, here:

If there’s retrievable text in the project, we can help you retrieve it.

Windows Scrivener 3 was in beta testing for several years with no significant data loss. Whatever unfortunate events befell your project, they can’t be attributed to an inadequate port or inadequate testing.


I have opened a ticket Katherine.

Perhaps testing was ‘adequate’, I understand not everything can be tested for, there will still be the 0.1% of times where problems occur.

What can be said is that, subjectively, for me as a customer the port was inadequate.

I unfortunately seem to be part of the small number of users who have experienced irrevocable data loss by using scrivener, perhaps through a fault with RTF writing using scriveners encryption method while backing up to onedrive while using AVG or some other niche usecase.

I also think it is quite brazen of you to say that there is no problem with the software barely weeks out of beta testing. I will remind you that full release is not beta. It is a full release, it will be exposed to many more scenarios than alpha and beta. This is software version 3.0.0. Not 3.2, not even 3.0.01. I understand you may come across many people in the forums that can be told to simply ‘find the backup’, rename the .tmp file to RTF, or any other such means. This is unfortunately not one of those times.

I appreciate your reply directing me to a ticket regardless.

I didn’t say there was no problem with the software. I said an extended beta had not exposed any data loss issues. As the beta participants can attest, it’s hard to say what we might have done differently to achieve “more adequate” testing.

All known examples of the behavior you’ve encountered have been traced to unfortunate interactions with antivirus software.

Scrivener itself has no encryption capabilities, so I can definitely state that “Scrivener’s encryption” is not a factor in your experience.


Hello again Talentedc,

I sincerely hope L&L support helps you recover your lost words.

There’s been no change to Scrivener’s automated backup system–it’s the same in v3.0 as in v1.9. When automated zipped backups are properly configured and utilized, there is no reason for anyone to ever lose Scrivener data, regardless of the failure scenario. PC crash, Scrivener crash, incorrect data sync, misguided ‘folder cleanup’, house burns down taking PC with it–Scrivener’s zipped backups should handle all of these scenarios, if backups exist that were made prior to the issue.

In the spirit then of protecting your future words, please see this backup advice I gave to another poster a few years ago. It’s still relevant, whether you’re on v1.9 or v3.0.


My post is unfortunately rather lengthy–please see the section called ‘BACKUPS’. I hope you don’t interpret this advice as ‘kicking someone when they’re down’, as that is not my intent.

Please let me know if you have any questions.


Yet you also say - ‘Whatever unfortunate events befell your project, they can’t be attributed to an inadequate port or inadequate testing.’

Surely if you are saying the project is completely adequately ported then you are also saying there is no problem with the software? Perhaps something is being lost in translation here as this is a confusing way to word whatever you were trying to say.

Regardless, I’ll leave it there Katherine as I’m not sure your input is needed anymore, I do thank you for what outwardly appears to be effort though.

Jim, thanks for that, that is helpful. I have covered most of what you describe in that post.

‘properly configured and utilized’, perhaps that was the problem, I saved the file multiple times while working, I have a compulsion to do this developed over years, yet those saves did not create backups. I believe as I was using the new version the default options were still in place and it was set to only backup on close, as I was working from a new 3.0 document I had only one. Unfortunately that singular backup was corrupted as was my work.

I’m not sure why my computer froze using scrivener, I’m running a fairly hefty setup with 32GB ram, an i9 and a 3080. I cannot remember the last time my PC crashed. I understand that correlation does not necessitate causation and there is a chance that some other event happened in order for this to happen but I cannot work out what and am 99% sure it was the 3.0 program.

The only other thing that I can think of was running a VPN, using AVG and Onedrive at the same time? The garbled text a can get from the RTF using a hex editor appears to have evidence of these routes. I am not an expert in this though so I would not know.

Anyway, 3.0 is deleted now and the more time I spend trying to get my work back looks like it will be wasted. Thank you for taking the time though, it is appreciated.

Just an update for future buyers of 3.0 for windows.

My files are indeed unrecoverable, after opening a ticket and sending them to support they have confirmed this.

My recommendation for anyone working professionally is to stick to 1.9 for the foreseeable, it works just as well and is tested over many years fixing 99.99% of the bugs, this version has not gone through this and may lead to data loss like mine.

For future buyers of 3.0 for Windows, I and hundreds(?) of others have been using V3 for several years on both converted and new projects with no data loss issues. While Talentedc’s experience is unfortunate it is unreasonable to blame Scrivener for:

AV software causing issues (particularly one program that has issues with not just Scrivener).
A possible system failure of indeterminate cause.
User failure to put in place an even basic backup process. In over 5 decades in IT I have seen more grief from lack of backups than almost any other cause. When coaching on any software, my first topic after installation is always Backup Strategy.

V3 is stable, robust, has not caused any data issues since early beta. Use it with confidence, but as with all software, backups are gold.

That’s very well and nicely stated, RuffPub. – and entirely appropriate to our appreciation to the developers and the team for the delivery of Scrivener 3

Indeed Scrivener 3 was proved entirely reliable through a several years public testing, all along the way of its development.

Windows itself is these days pretty reliable, and has had a very good core, but it has also been entirely dangerous all along for crashes, losing data, etc.;, especially on machines which aren’t regularly rebooted, aren’t maintained, and have questionable ‘I didn’t want to pay’ software loaded on them.

it’s hard luck when something happens, but then we have to man- or woman-up, and make recoveries.

It’s unthinkable to create anything of value without backups, which would have saved this situation easily. I hope the team can recover this person’s data given that is at all possible, as they’ve offered out of expertise and kind hearts – just the sort of thing Scrivener persons have been doing for more than a decade.

It’s great software, doing jobs no other does.

And experience says that as software, it’s remarkably reliable. By design.


I’m sure your 50+ years in IT have taught you a lot, you’ve certainly given yourself some internet social proof by stating this. Please, prepare for the onslaught of PM’s coming your way regarding everything from OS installation to how to recover floppy disk data, I hope you are prepared.

I am also unsure how you’ve been using 3.0 for windows for years as it was only just released as a full version. If you’ve been a beta tester, then you no doubt have seen the list of bugfixes that have already been implemented. Could it be possible, just maybe, that there are still one or two to iron out? Perhaps, or maybe the program is completely perfect as is. If so, no doubt the devs from L&L will never release a 4.0. They will be whisked away in the dead of night by CIA black ops to work on ironclad contracts ahead of InfoSec cold war with China, the first fully tamperproof and bug-free scripts of their kind.

I would be doing a disservice to buyers to say I had a good experience with this new version, I did not, all while practicing what I deemed to be good OPSEC. This may have turned out to be inadequate, yet I will leave it to future buyers to decide if they are willing to take the risk after reading, no doubt these conflicts will be resolved in 3.0.1 or a later version, I can only comment on my particular situation for windows users. (I understand, NARRD, that Mac users may ask one to switch to a Mac, but that may not always be feasible for these customers).

I have clearly stated what happened, it is up to future users to decide how they will proceed. My recommendation is to wait for the inevitable 3.0.1 patch at the very least.

That may be the crux of the problem right there.

Way back in 2008 when I was still on WinXP I learned the hard way that you can never have too many backups. I had to spend good money and lose a lot of time to have specialists recover data from my hard drive. After that time I had multiple backups. But backing up on Windows then was a nightmare (may be flawless now I don’t know).

One thing I immediately loved about using Macs was TimeMachine and the ease of backing up. It not only backs up data but even helps to correct applications that suddenly go haywire.

I recently installed DevonThink and am still not familar with all its ideosyncracies. So in an effort to unclutter it I sent to trash files which somehow were not in the designated folders where they should have been. Among these were a bunch of scrivener projects. I thought that they were just removed from the DevonThink window but low and behold when sometime later I went to open the magnum opus I was working on in Scrivener it was gone :open_mouth: I looked in the folder and not there. Fortunately using TimeMachine I was able to locate it and all was well.

I also don’t have an antivirus application on my Mac that can mess up my files.

Considering the seriousness of your data loss you may want to consult a professional data recovery service to see if there is a hidden copy of your original file still on your hard drive. It may simply be a matter that the FAT just erased the reference to your original file when making a new one but leaving the original file intact. That is how it used to be before. I have no idea of how it is done now. But in your case it would be worth while to find out what invisible files are lurking on your hard drive. You could be lucky.

In any case this is a serious lesson that you can never have too many back ups. Anything can create a catastrophic data loss. In your case it seems to be software related, in my case it was hardware related.

I now have three external TimeMachine backups of everything plus what is on DropBox.

I urge you to take the suggestions about backup strategy seriously. Without a theory explaining exactly how Scrivener 3 contributed to the data loss, it would be extremely dangerous to assume that reverting to an earlier version “fixed” the underlying problem.


My statement on the time in IT was to emphasise a couple of constants - the need for a robust backup, and in your case the need to not blame the software for what may well be any combination of, AV interaction (not Scrivener’s fault), a system issue (not Scrivener’s fault) combined with no sensible backup strategy (not Scrivener’s fault). Your response to that was to be blunt a little…

Yes, my several years of Win V3 use has been the beta program. While there have been many bugs, one constant for me and all the other beta users has been ZERO, repeat ZERO app caused data loss. You can go on all you like about possible mysterious bugs, but again, during that period, ZERO shown cases of data loss caused by the program. There have been cases of ‘Scrivener ate my work’ but in every instance I recall, the fault lay elsewhere. (most often user)

You claim it would be a disservice to potential users not to give your warning. It’s a greater disservice giving your ‘warning’ when there is zero evidence to support your hypothesis of Scrivener being at fault. As Katherine reasonably stated warning others to stay with 1.9 when the issue may well be ‘elsewhere’ does no good at all.

Perhaps you should equally be warning potential users not to use your brand of computer (locks up without warning), to stay way from the 3-finger salute (guarantees data loss), or to stay away from Windows entirely. All more likely causes.

You also claim to have applied good OPSEC. Sorry, but the description you have given is everything but…