Recovering docs that were moved and won't open now

Hey, so I formatted my computer due to some issues. I copied all my Scrivener files to an external HDD. When I was done I copied them back to my pc. Now when I try to open them it says it can’t access them. Some of them have a zipped .bak file. If I extract that, the document opens and all the chapters are listed but they’re all blank. Any thoughts?


Scrivener needs the whole project folder. Not just the .scrivx file.
Is that your case?

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Unzipping a backup file is the way to go. Scrivener needs access to those Project files amd something is preventing that.

So, is your Project whitelisted in your virusscanner, is a cloud service removing files from your hd, or have you moved the .scrvx index file outside the Project folder?

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Welcome to the forum @Triton23

Just to elaborate on what AntonioDol and Vincent_Vincent said:

On Windows - your project folder is named [projectname].scriv (and should be what is contained in your backup zip ). Inside that folder are all the pieces of your project including [projectname].scrivx which is the file you would click on to open your project. You must first unzip the .scriv folder then click on the .scrivx file.

The .scrivx file contains all the details to put all the ‘pieces’ of the . scriv folder in order, but all the ‘pieces’ have to be ‘living’ together in the . scriv folder for it to work properly.

Another thought - do you use a cloud sync? Empty binder items is a common symptom of an incomplete sync.


It is not unfortunately. I copied the entire Scrivener data folder to the cloud, then I copied it back onto my pc. Now all the chapters are blank.

What is the weight of the project folder that’s on your HD?
Right-click it, > properties.

Seem to have fixed it now. Thanks!

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… … … … …Magic.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

For future reference, if you have the correct list of documents in the Binder, but no content, that’s a sign that Scrivener only has access to the .scrivx file, which is the master index used to build the Binder. That can happen in several ways:

  • Only the .scrivx file exists. That is, you moved the .scrivx file separately from the rest of the project, then changed computers or otherwise deleted the rest of it. This is not recoverable.

  • The project is stored with a cloud service which “helpfully” “optimized” your hard disk by storing most of the project on their servers. So the rest of the content is out there, but Scrivener can’t see it. This may “suddenly” fix itself when the file system catches up to Scrivener’s download request, but the permanent solution is to tell the cloud service not to do that.

ALWAYS configure Scrivener projects to be “available offline.” If you don’t know how to do that, don’t store a project with a cloud service until you learn.

ALWAYS confirm that you have restored your data successfully before disposing of your old computer/your backup drive/that USB stick.

ALWAYS move/copy the entire .scriv folder and all subfolders as a unit.


Thank you! That’s very helpful.

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