Recovering lost data

I back up to an external hard drive via Time Machine, but only when it prompts me (ever ten days). I also work in Scrivener every day so I don’t typically close the program unless I’m doing a full reboot of my computer.

Last week when I went to start working on my project, Scrivener said it crashed and prompted me to reload it. I know I saved everything the day before when I was working on it, but when I reloaded Scrivener it showed me a file from back in December (presumably, the last time I closed the program). I was able to pull a newer version from my external hard drive, but it’s still two weeks old.

Is there any way to get the information back that I lost in the last two weeks? I tried looking through Scrivener backups and all I could find was one from December (again, I’m assuming that’s the file it loaded after the program crashed). I don’t use Dropbox or Google Drive or anything, but I’m wondering if there is a place on my computer that might have the automated saves.

Hi dneth13,

I’m sorry you lost words.

Zipped backups were designed to aid you in events such as this. That’s their purpose in life. Since you don’t have any recent ones, whatever words you lost are gone.

You’ll need to change something in your process to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Here are some recommendations.

Close your Scrivener project on a daily basis. That will give you a daily zipped backup.

If you would prefer to continue leaving Scrivener open for days at a time, then you’ll need to take manual zipped backups. In Scrivener Backup preferences, enable the setting “Back up with each manual save”. Then at the end of each day’s writing session, be sure to press CMD-S (I think that’s what it is on the Mac) to produce a zipped backup. You’ll have to remember to do that, which is why closing the project is better.

Regardless of which approach you take, in Scrivener Backup preferences, change “Backups to retain” to 25.

And consider changing Time Machine settings to remind you to backup more frequently. Basically, you need to decide how many days work you are willing to lose vs. the inconvenience of taking a backup, and then configure and run Time Machine accordingly.


Scrivener saves the project every time you stop writing for a few seconds so it doesn’t really matter if you did a manual save or not.
Are you absolutely sure that you opened the latest version of your project? Scrivener can’t on its own revert to an older version and it keeps saving all the time, so everything you wrote is somewhere in your project, even if Scrivener can’t find it right now.
Running Time Machine only once a week is a bad idea. Do you have a WiFi router at home? Maybe it’s possible to connect the external HD to the router and let Time Machine automatically do standard backups, i.e. at least every day.

I was thinking that data has to be somewhere but I wasn’t sure where. I’ll look again.

And I will be fixing the Time Machine issue because I don’t want to be in this situation again.

What looks like your project file is actually a folder, a package. Make a copy of it first, so you don’t accidentally destroy anything. Then Alt-click on the copy so you get the context menu and can choose to show the content. You can then search for text snippets that you know you wrote but which aren’t in the project.
You could also search for all your .scriv projects. Maybe you changed the project’s name sometime in the past so you’re actually opening an older version?

Okay, I could kiss you! I found EVERYTHING by doing this. I mean, I needed to copy and paste and put it all back together (might just be my paranoia), but I have it back.


Great! :smiley:

Hello, So I’ve been using Scrivener for a while. I made the switch from PC to Mac and shortly after there was the update to Scrivener 3. I had a novel almost written on the old platform. When I try to pull it up on Scrivener 3 and try to open a folder, it deletes the contents.
Has anyone experienced this before and if so, how did you solve it. I’ve now lost half my novel.


How and what did you move from the PC to the Mac?

I used the old Scrivener on both the PC and the Mac, but my book was only saved in the old format. When Scrivener three came out and I upgraded, I now can’t pull up that old book. I had been working on many other projects, and this one was held in the coffers for later. Well, it’s later now and I can’t seem to pull it up, or it pulls up but it won’t let me open the individual folders/chapters. When I do the content immediately erases.

What would be helpful to know is details of exactly how you copied the data from mac to pc. And what data did you copy?

Well, it seems you didn’t understand my question but hopefully you’ll understand JimRac’s way of phrasing it better.
Or maybe I should repeat it once more, just to be sure? :wink:

Exactly how did you transfer the project from the PC to the Mac and exactly what did you transfer?

  1. If not already, make sure you have a safety copy of this project before messing more with it.

You say that your project opens, but the content is erasing when you try to open a folder/chapter.

Now maybe your troubleshooting is way past this, but: Let’s step back and start with the idea that the contents SEEMS to erase when you try to look at your contents.

What are you clicking on in the Binder when this happens? A folder, a document, or a container document? All these can behave differently depending on your prefs and your View Mode. I would focus on simple text docs in the binder that you know should have contents.


P.S. Probably not your case, but I mention the view mode, because it sometimes happens that this trips people up. They click on a folder and see a blank document, when they expected to see the contents of the docs in the folder. View Mode. Or it sometimes happens that a writer has been typing their text into the text-area of the folder itself and not the docs within it. Then when their view mode gets somehow switched, they click on their folder and do not see their text, but instead the empty contained doc contents. It seems to them their text has disappeared.

Oh, I’m sorry. I guess I didn’t really understand. Maybe transfer is the wrong way of putting it. I downloaded the old version of Scrivener on my PC. When I switched to a Mac, I bought another subscription (because it’s my understanding it didn’t transfer) and I downloaded the old version on my Mac. When the update came around I updated it, to Scrivener 3. As to the file, which again, I just opened for the first time in a long time (and was still part of the older version), the computer said things needed to be updated to open it. So, I clicked update and the file opened up. My entire outline of folder is visible.

I have both versions on my Mac now. When I click on the old version it says product activation is required. I click okay and it says the activation is successful. I click open recently and open the file. My manuscript shows up, the papers in the icons look like there’s writing on it but when I click to open nothing is there and the writing on the icon goes away.

I have made a safety copy.
Yes I click on things in the binder
I have tried viewing it in manuscript/composite mode, on the corkboard and the outliner, I’ve tried looking at it individually by folder and chapter, I’ve tried viewing it in a complete manuscript, I’ve tried compiling it.
I’m not sure what you mean by viewing in simple text in the binder unless you mean just clicking and opening it. Is there something I’m not opening?
It’s so frustrating because it’s right there, I just can’t open it.
I hope I’ve understood what you’re saying better, or that I’m explaining it better. To make matter worse I’ve just had an editor ask to see what I have on this project. Argh!


How did you transfer the project from the PC to the Mac? Your work is stored separately from the Scrivener application.

Based on your symptoms, it sounds like the Mac only has the .scrivx file, which is the master index file used to build the Binder. For a complete project, you need the entire contents of the .scriv folder.


No one has asked about Scrivener. Everyone asks about the PROJECT you are trying to open.

I believe I saved it to the hard drive then opened it with the new software. How do I get the entire contents of the .scriv folder?

The project was a manuscript written in Scrivener and saved in Scrivener. It was also saved onto Dropbox as a .scriv and on my hard drive as a .scriv. Is that what you mean? I’m so sorry, I’m so not a tech savvy person, I only write and hit save, I’m terrible at the rest of it.

I’m not sure what you’re asking otherwise. I typed the project, “Civility” into Scrivener. I saved it under the file name Civility.scriv. I have a series that I’m working on and saved it the same way, in the new edition and everything is fine. I’m desperate to understand, so please don’t give up on me. I truly appreciate your time!

Thank you

it sounds as if you wrote the project on a PC, then switched to Mac. So what everyone is asking is:
how did you move the project from the PC to the Mac? Did you copy it from the PC to somewhere, a thumb drive, a folder in Dropbox, or how did you do it?
And exactly what did you move? A file? A folder? Or what?

Does this refer to the old version of the project?
If so, what did you download, from where? The whole .scriv folder or only the .scrivx file? And download from where?

In addition to Lunk’s questions, do you still have that old PC? If so, does your project open successfully?