Retrieving files from fried computer

A friend dumped liquid on my laptop, frying it completely, it won’t turn on or anything. It was a cheap laptop that I only used for writing on Scrivener. I am certain I had scrivener set up to backup files on Dropbox, but there is nothing there to be found. Right before the laptop was wrecked I saved my file and closed scrivener so it automatically backed up somewhere onto my hard drive.

My question: if I get a new laptop and recover the old hard drive will my project also be recovered upon installing scrivener onto the new laptop? If not, are there any more suggestions to retrieving my project? I must have had 120,000 words on there. A lot of it, probably 90,000 words, is on my drop box and iPad from when I bought scrivener and transferred the files over.

For the children reading at home, the moral of this story is: Always confirm that your backups are in fact backing up where you intended them to.


That said, are you 100% sure that you looked in the right DropBox folder for your backups?

As far as your data on your hard drive goes, you are probably okay. My guess is that your computer innards (tech term) got fried but your data should still be good.

If I were in your position, I would purchase a USB hard drive enclosure, install your old hard drive in it, then attach that to a working computer.

You can than browse your old hard drive and copy off your Scrivener folders and any other data that you need to recover.

Hope that helps,

In addition to the external USB hard drive enclosure option that JimRac mentions, a couple of other options for hooking the hopefully still intact hard drive to another computer. If you know a PC tech or enthusiast, they may already have such in hand.

  • Sticking it inside an existing desktop PC as a second drive. The PC will need to support the hard drive type (IDE, SATA, etc.). Additional data and power cables may or may not be needed, depending on what cables came with the desktop PC.
  • Attaching it to another computer (desktop or laptop) via an external USB to IDE/SATA adapter cable kit. This is basically the same thing as the USB hard drive enclosure, minus the enclosure box. This is something that I carried in my toolkit for years. An excellent example, available via several resellers… … SB2SATAIDE

As far as where the live Scrivener project and backups might be found on the hopefully still intact hard drive…

  • The live project would be where you initially created it. By default, this tends to be in your local account’s documents folder C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME\Documents Alternate locations might be some other local folder. If you were using DropBox, that might include the local DropBox folder, which defaults to C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME\DropBox
  • The default location for backups is C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME\AppData\Local\Scrivener\Scrivener\Backups

NOTE: When attaching the hopefully still intact hard drive to another computer, it will presumably appear as some other higher drive letter than C:

Each Scrivener project is a folder (name ending in .scriv), that contains multiple subfolders and numerous files. You’ll need the entire .scriv folder and contents. I.E. copy/extract/backup the entire .scriv folder.

Hope that is of some assistance.

This is cool! I wasn’t aware such a cable existed - thanks for the tip.

Thank you so much. I ended up buying a USB to SATA hard drive adapter. It cost $15 and I had all my files within minutes. You guys saved my butt, I can’t thank you enough.

Yay - happy ending!


If you haven’t already done this, have a look at section 7.11 “Backing Up Your Work” and Appendix B9 “Backup” and B12 “Saving” in the Scrivener manual. Only a few pages. If you understand how backups work on Scrivener, next time won’t be so stressful.

Also, be sure to check out this post from Katherine for additional backup ideas: [url]Got a backup?]