Save Malfunction - Missing Text Files

So, here’s my issue. Yesterday, my computer crashed, and when I turned it back on, all the work I’ve been doing for the past couple weeks had disappeared from my manuscript. I have a text file for every first draft of every chapter in the Scrivener project file. And all the new work was put in separate text files, for my draft 2’s. When re-opening the project, post-crash, these draft 2 text files were gone.

I assumed the save failed and everything was gone, despite the fact that I saved the file not 20 minutes before the crash occurred. Today, however, I noticed that some changes were still there. I had made some small formatting changes to all the draft 1 files just the other day, and these changes were still there, proving that the save worked. But the draft 2 files, which I made before I made these formatting changes to the draft 1 files, are still nowhere to be found. Also missing were a few new files under my research folder. Which is strange because, if it did save the entire file, keeping my more recent draft 1 changes, why wouldn’t it also have my draft 2’s, which I made earlier? Truly, I’m baffled.

I’ve tried restarting my computer, uninstalling and re-installing the app, checking the backup files (turns out I didn’t have it set to backup the project after saving so that’s out), but nothing has worked. The draft 2 files will not re-appear, and I am still missing all the work that was in those files.

If anyone can find a way to fix this problem, that would be greatly appreciated. (I may have had a meltdown yesterday after this happened.) If I can somehow get this work back, that would be a huge relief. I did send an email to the help line last night, but that was before I learned of this new information, and judging by their auto-reply, they seem a little too busy anyway.

Thanks in advance,

What version of Scrivener?
What interval is your autosave set to, in tools-preferences?
Have you looked inside the project folder to see if the rtf-files are actually gone? Each document in the Binder is saved as a separate file, and only the one(s) currently loaded in the editor is actually open, so unless you had it all in one huge document you should find all the subdocuments you weren’t working on inside the project folder.

I’m currently at work (sent that original message there), so I’ll have to get back to you on those specific questions later (much later, unfortunately) when I’m at home and can look into all those things on my home computer.

Thanks in advance though. I’m hopeful that those files do still exist somewhere, like you said. All my scrivener files are in my Google Drive folder, so they should be backed up. The main project file says it was last updated/saved roughly 30 minutes before my comp crashed, so I have to imagine the files are somewhere. fingers crossed

Google Drive? Bad news…
Google Drive sometimes try to make intelligent guesses of what you want and need and doesn’t update everything the way it should. Dropbox does. L&L recommend that live projects should not be stored on Google Drive because lots of people have reported loss of text that way.

Oh no, I had no idea that was an issue with Google Drive. I just thought it was safer than simply keeping it saved only on my desktop. Especially because with Drive I can switch between working on my desktop and laptop with ease. I guess I’ll have to look into switching to Dropbox, although I’m not sure I can afford it right now.

Thanks for the heads up, though.

Dropbox has a basic account level that is free :slight_smile:

Oh, great! I must have mis-read their site. I’ll switch to using Dropbox after this is all (hopefully) resolved if that’s what’s advised.


This is all I see for save settings:

I looked under the folder for my project > files > docs and none of the RTF files in that folder contain the 2nd drafts. They’re all also simple titled as numbers. Is there somewhere else it would be? Or that I can look? Do you know by chance if anyone has every tried contacting the Google Drive department to fix this problem? Perhaps somehow they might have a solution. Living on a prayer over here.

But your 2nd draft, did you put that as a subfolder under your top Draft folder, or did you make a new top level folder?
There can really only be three top level folders:
Draft (or some similar name) where the text is kept
Research, where you keep everything that isn’t your text

So if you created a new Draft2 at the top level Scrivener will treat it as part of the Research section because there can only be one Draft.

So check your Research section both in Scrivener and in the Folder using Explorer.

I managed to find one of the files through Google Drive’s file history, looking through the specific docs folder. However, I’m still having trouble finding the second one.

This is what I meant, though:

See how there’s two “Part 1” text files under the “Chapter 1” folder? The second one, labelled “Part 1 (Draft 2)” is what I meant by Draft 2 files. They’re duplicate text files, whose context is different from the original copy. As in “Part (Draft 2)” has different context in it as compared to “Part 1.” They’re in the same exact location as the files that are still there. They were, that is. But when this problem happened, they disappeared. I’ve found one so far, but can’t find the other.

Somehow, the text files that don’t say “(Draft 2)” didn’t save, whereas the files without those did save. Both files have new context (draft 2 just has waaaaaay more new context), yet only the older text file, “part 1” saved.


I had to look for old copies of the RTF Files in Google Drive, and then copy and paste the context back into my Scrivener Project Folder. I literally opened at least 100 different files before I found them both.

Now the only question is how to prevent this from happening again. I read that people have had this same issue with Dropbox.

Hi Dylan,

Very happy to hear you’ve recovered your writing!

That is a very simple question to answer.

That is the root cause of your original problem, and also the answer to your question, which is: Make sure you take backups.

Here’s how to do that:

In Scrivener, go to Tools>Options>Backup, and set your configuration as follows:

  • Turn on automattic backups = yes

  • Back up on project close = yes

  • Back up with each manual save = yes (more about this one in a minute)

  • Back up before updating from mobile device = yes (if your are using iOS Scriv, otherwise no)

  • Compress as zip files = yes

  • Use date in name = yes

  • Retain backup files = 25. I think the default is 5. Changing it to 25 will take up more space on your hard drive, but it’s worth it.

Here’s why: What typically happens when you have an issue with a Scrivener project, for example if your project gets corrupted for some reason, you will open and close the project many times trying to figure out what’s wrong, and each time you do that you overlay a good backup with a corrupted bad one. By the time you realize you have to restore from backup, you may not have any good ones left! Unfortunately, we see that sort of thing all the time on these boards.

I have changed my own setting to “Keep all backup files”, as I’d rather manage the backups and clean them up myself. At the end of each day, I typically keep the last backup of that day’s work and delete the others. I recommend that you do that too, but you’ll need to clean up after them.

  • Backup location = Wherever you like, just not in the same folder as where you store your projects.

One very common practice, which Lunk alluded to above, was to store your live Scrivener projects on DropBox (only DropBox, don’t use anything else), and your zipped backups on OneDrive, or Google Drive, or some other cloud service (if the files are zipped, any service will do)

The advantages of this approach are:
a. DropBox will keep versions of files in the cloud, in the event you need to look for lost work
b. Your zipped backups are kept off your hard drive.

Once you’ve changed these backup configurations, they will apply against all your Scrivener projects.

Next step is to tweak your day-to-day practices.

Do you close Scrivener at the end of every writing session? You should, because the backup settings above will only work if you do. The classic mistake people make is to set scrivener to take a backup at project close, and then never close their project! So when disaster strikes, they have no backups.

If you must keep your project open, then change the settings mentioned above of Back up with each manual save = yes, and Retain backup files = All. Then, while you are writing, periodically do Ctl-S. This will take a backup of your entire project. You must remember to clean up after them yourself periodically.

Speaking of Ctl-S, saving in Scrivener will not save you. If you’re used to how MS Office saves, where, for example, if you save your open Word doc and keep working, you can be confident that the data since your last save is recoverable in the event there is a crash, understand that Scrivener’s save process does not work the same way. Despite Scrivener’s auto-save, if a crash occurs the open project may become corrupted and/or data may be lost. You learned this lesson when your project crashed. I have experienced this myself, back when Windows Scrivener was more prone to crashing. But backups will save you,

Note: If you do a google search on “Scrivener crash lost data” or something similar, nearly all of the posts found have to do with Windows Scrivener. So maybe the Mac OS or the framework that Mac Scrivener is built on handles system crashes more gracefully. Or maybe Macs crash less frequently. I don’t know. What I do know is that when a Windows user experiences a crash while using Scrivener, their projects can become corrupted. If they have a viable Scrivener zipped backup, then life is good, but if they don’t…well, you already know how that ends.

For further info on this topic, see this thread:
[url]Computer crashes and lost work]

If you configure Scrivener to sync your live projects with DropBox and your zipped backup files with some other cloud service, before you close your PC for the night, you should make sure that DropBox/cloud services have fully synced with the data on your PC.

In addition to the Scrivener-specific practices above, you should regularly backup all the data on your PC to some sort of external device. Could be a USB drive, or a cloud service. Doesn’t matter, as long as you’ve got some recourse if your PC’s hard drive crashes.

Read the following sections of the Windows Scrivener manual. These are only a few pages and well worth it!

  • 6.11 Backing up your work

  • Appendix B.9 Backup options

  • Appendix G Project Bundle Format.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Best of luck!

Hi Jim,

Thanks for all the advice (and lunk as well).

I spoke to a representative via email about the same advice, and she told me to pursue similar measures. I changed all my backup settings as you mentioned so that now they’d keep all my backups, and so that they’d back things up every time I hit save. I will start, as you said, cleaning them up so that only the most recent backup for each day (as opposed to the 20 different ones for each day) remains. I will also start closing the application every day. I used to keep it open in order to remind me to work on it. I obviously didn’t realize the issue with this.

The only difference in advice is that, while she said to store all the backups on a cloud service, she advised me not to store the main Scrivener Project file on a cloud service, and to only store it locally, as cloud services tend to sometimes muck things up. So, I’m not sure which direction to go in.

Right now I have the main project saved locally, and the backup folder synced to Dropbox.

Which cloud service? Some are significantly more trustworthy.

My advice is usually to store either your backups or the live project in the cloud, but not both. Or at least to use a different service for backups than for live projects. That way a problem with the cloud won’t wipe out all your copies.


Do what the rep told you to do: store your live projects locally.

She’s right, there is a slight risk using a syncing serivce, so if you’ve implemented all of the other things, then the incremental benefit of storing your live projects on DropBox is negligible.

(That said, obviously L&L is okay with how DropBox handles live projects, because if you want to share your projects with iOS Scrivener, they chose DropBox as the cloud platform to support that. :smiley: )

Okay, will do.

I primarily only write on my PC, but I do also occasionally write on my laptop (also windows). In the case that I want to work on the project on both systems, is your advice to then use Dropbox, and move my backups to a different cloud service, such as Google Drive? Or is there a safer way to sync the project between two different windows systems?

At the moment, I’m only working on it on my PC, so I’ll keep it set up as I have now (live project - local; backups - dropbox), but for the future, what is the safest way?

Thanks again for the help. I realize I’ve asked like a million questions at this point :blush:

About storing locally… make sure you have some general backup system going in the background as an extra precaution. On Macs we have the built in Time Machine and I guess there is some similar system available for PCs

Just a comment on what’s the safest way––for cloud synchronization purposes, I use the method as described at this L&L knowledge base article that starts with (about 55% of the way down the page): … c-services

Zipped and dated. Read that entire “Alternate Method” section.The method might seem a little cumbersome at first, but once you’ve developed the habit it’s quite easy to do, and as the article states––“it is orders of magnitude safer”.

Oh, this is great! Makes perfect sense and would totally be no problem. I’ll definetely use this method in the future, thanks!

You’re welcome. But to clarify a bit since I said to read one section––you should read the rest as well for further advice/warnings. The “Alternate Method” section only mentions Dropbox. At the top of the article it states that you can also use other sync services. This is especially so if you use the “Alternate Method”. For instance, I use iCloud Drive*.

Article excerpt:

*I use it in a limited way without using its Optimize and Desktop & Document Folders features. Make sure to learn as much as you can about whichever service you use.