Pretty weird = lost work

OK, here is the scenario:

I’ve been accessing my Scrivener project living on my PowerBook from my iMac. Heeding Keith’s warnings, I’ve been meticulously about not opening the project on both computers at once. For the last two weeks this has worked fine… until today.

I think what happened is that my PowerBook (hosting the project) went into a deep sleep mode of some kind (or perhaps the network connection was lost), and the Scrivener application on my iMac (1.11) got confused and did not know it had lost connection to it’s project file.

I was writing away quite happily, saves were happening regularly, both manually and automatically. Suddenly some text disappeared from one of my binder items, very perplexing. I immediately backed up the project (zip checked), and began snooping around. I realized I had been disconnected from the file when I looked at the modification time of the PowerBook project file and it was still set at the end of my morning writing session, rather than, current, at my abruptly ended afternoon session.

OK, I thought, maybe Scrivener started saving the file locally on my iMac. I did numerous searches and could not find the most recent project -either on my iMac, or in any directory on the PowerBook.

OK, I thought, let me go to the backup file. It existed, but it was empty!

I finally went back to the original source file on the PowerBook. Unfortunately, all my work from the afternoon session was gone.

One oddity is that in the recent projects cue of Scrivener, I found a version of my project listed, follow by a dash, and then a folder ikon named “volumes.” I’ve never named anything “Volumes,” and when I searched on it in both iMac identities, as well as the PowerBook, I could not find it.

Writing is hard enough the first time, it’s excruciating the second. Is it just too dangerous to access a Scrivener project remotely over a network because of gremlins lurking in the network interface?

Could it be a problem that the iMac is running Leopard, the PowerBook Tiger?

Could there be a problem because the iMac had two identities open and both were using the Scrivener application, but they definitely were NOT accessing the same project file?

I would be eternally grateful if someone came up with an idiot proof system of sharing a Scrivener project between two computers. I know this topic has been discussed to death here, but all the solutions require vigilance to not get the files confused (if by accident you start working on an older file than your most recent, you will lose work).

I’ve thought of buying a USB drive to hold the master file (which I would always work off of), switching it between the two computers as need be, and backing it up locally each time I switched the drive between computers - a hassle for sure, but maybe safer.

Any thoughts?

Oh, and when I opened the “volumes” file from Recent Projects, Scrivener told me it was created with an older version of Scrivener and had to be updated (which surprised me because I don’t recall using an older version of Scrivener on this relative new iMac). After updating, the project was empty. Maybe this “volumes” file was anomalous to this specific anomalous file disappearance, or maybe it was central.

I have always maintained that if the computer doing the file sharing is not a real file server (and a laptop is just about as far away from that as you can get), and you are going to be doing extensive editing to the file, you should copy the file locally, and then copy it back up when you are done. This is especially true of applications that do live editing to a file, like Scrivener. Things like simple text files that get loaded entirely into RAM and then fully dumped when you save are safer.

There are just too many things that can go wrong, like the hosting computer going to sleep and not realising it until hours later. :slight_smile: But, I am always uncomfortable editing files over a network connexion, even if the hosting computer is a dedicated industrial strength file server.

It sounds like you have everything in your house networked nicely, so you shouldn’t need a flash drive. Just connect to the other computer, copy the Scrivener project to your desktop or something that is obviously temporary, and when you are done, copy it back to the other computer. Of course, making frequent backups will always be a virtue. Sure, that means remembering to sync up when you are done, but you’d have to do that with a flash drive, anyway.

I’m afraid your data is lost, though, in this case. I wouldn’t want to say that for sure, but I think if a volume disappears and the application is not aware of that, all of those auto-saves were going nowhere, and the only existing copy of what you had written was in RAM. Using copy and paste to get everything out and into TextEdit or something would have been the only way to save it.

On the hosting computer that went to sleep. I’d duplicate the project that was open at the time, and then Time Machine the last static copy just to be safe, since it was never closed properly, and integrate any changes that might exist.

You might take a peek inside the package of the Volumes version to see if your text files were actually saved in there. I doubt it, but it’s worth a try. If you got the “created with an older version” message, that’s just because the info.plist file isn’t contained inside the package, but then in such a strange circumstance I wouldn’t expect everything from the original to get copied across there. In the best-case scenario, the file system started saving work you did since the laptop went into deep sleep into that Volumes file, in which case it might contain up-to-date RTFDs. As Amber says, I strongly recommend working on local copies. For package files such as .scriv files, it is much safer.

Thanks guys for your responses.

Keith, I would look inside the Volumes version if I could find it, but it is in neither of the two accounts on the iMac, nor on the PowerBook.

Why you say, “the file system started saving work” do you mean Time Machine? Damn, I was wondering if I needed to use Time Machine since I back up religiously (but not during a writing session).

Might some future version of Scrivener saved a timed back version of the project file, say every 30 minutes?

Thanks again.

Also, I just noticed a zip file that I created in an attempt to back up the corrupted project. However, when I go to open it, I get the Archive Utility message:

"Unable to unarchive “” into Desktop. (Error 1 - Operation not permitted.)

Any suggestions on how to open this?


One other thought, might there be a preference in the future that would warn the writer is he/she were trying to open an older version of a file previously edited in Scrivener?

And a question: would you consider keeping a master project on a portable USB drive (deriving power from the USB port) a safe way to go, as long as the project was backed up regularly on whatever host computer was using it?

Again, thanks.

USB sticks are pretty reliable these days. If you want to save the time copying back & forth, this is a pretty good way to go as long as you don’t mind it hanging off a USB port all the time :stuck_out_tongue:

I use a USB stick as one of my (multiple) backup and syncing repositories for all my writing & music work. If you format the USB stick to HFS+ (use Disk Utility) then it will read & write much faster than with the default FAT formatting. The downside there is that it will only mount on a Mac (although you can get software to access HFS+ volumes in Windows).

Regarding USB reliability, I use Journalling HFS+, and have never had a problem with corrupted or lost data. I had all sorts of problems on older sticks using FAT16. I’m not sure if that is the fault of the older technology or the file system.

One thing you will want to be cautious of is working off of the stick itself. Not that there should be any technical problems with it, but with all of those reads and writes going on in the background, you could wear out the stick prematurely. It is a chemical process, and like batteries, they get worn out in time. It is the writing process that wears them out. I think the figures are something like 500 writes per cell. It is a lot, but I bet running a Scrivener project all day long results in a lot of writes.

That’s a good point. You’d find your USB’s capacity would shrink over time as cells wear out and you have to write the data to good ones. You’d still get a reasonable life out of a USB stick (500kB worth of text, even written many times, takes a while before you wear out 4GB worth of cells).

However, it would be a sensible idea to extend Scrivener’s ‘auto save after’ value to a very large number, and rely on manual saves (and be vigilant about that!), if working from a USB key.

Of course, regular backups to another location is a good idea as well.

Michpen actually said “USB drive”, not “USB stick” so I took it to mean a pocket hard drive, rather than a solid state one. I have one of those 120GB to match the drive in my MBP. I had a 30 GB one I passed on to my wife who needed something similar, but I don’t think she’s really got her head round it, so I’m not sure that she’s using it.

I’ve found both of them to be totally reliable used with my TiBook and my MBP. On some Windows boxes, I’ve found that even with the double USB connection, they’re still not able to draw enough power though.

Bigger than a USB stick it’s true, but you could run a Scrivener project off one without the cell-death problem of the stick.


This is why I make daily duplicate backups of the current file I’m working on, throw another dup copy onto a flash drive, weekly back them up to an external firewire drive, and when it strikes me, toss them on a CD. And sometimes I’ll securely email myself a copy to my gmail account, and just archive it. And I ALWAYS keep hard copies of everything.

I had an incident where I lost WAY too much stuff once, and I will not let that happen again.