Saving to Dropbox?

     I'm a complete nimcompoop! I'm really using Scrivener windows for the first time and realizing I could lose months of hard writing work. I've written around a third or forth(maybe 100 pages?) of a crime fiction novel and now I realize I must back it up in case my laptop goes haywire or something. I'm way broke and don't know diddly: Is Dropbox free? What are the best, easiest backups? Will Dropbox basic hold 100 pages?  What is the simplest, easiest tutorial??

Those are all excellent questions, warren.

Scrivener is already making automatic backups for you by default. In the Scrivener 3 for Windows manual, Section 5.2 discusses more about the backups, how to safely access them if you need to restore work, and creating a manual backup if you’d like.

If you’re using Scrivener 3 for Windows, you can review where the automatic backups are saved via File > Options > Backup. On the Backup tab, you can access the backups by clicking the “Open backup folder” button.

That same tab in Options is also where you’ll go if you decide to change where your backups are stored and how often they’re created. So, if you want to move the backups to Dropbox, that’s the tab you’ll need.

We also have a Knowledge Base article on keeping projects organized, which I recommend reviewing periodically so that you can be sure you know where all of your Scrivener projects are saved, where your automatic backups are, and that they all are still in good working order.

Dropbox does have a free Basic account available, and it will give you 2 GB of storage. If you’re thinking about using Dropbox (or any cloud storage), then you might want to review our KB article on using Scrivener with cloud-syncing.

If that hasn’t answered all of your questions or if something here prompts additional questions, please let me know.


In addition to RuthS’s helpful post, I’d recommend getting a Google account if you don’t already have one. Then keep your Scrivener projects in DropBox, and have your backups go to Google Drive. It’s free and it’s a nice way to have your backups in the cloud too.

Google searches will come up with many versions of how to install DropBox and Google Drive. Then the tutorials RuthS mentioned will no doubt help you understand how to store your projects and backups where you want them.

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Myself, I use OneDrive. It comes with any Windows PC with a basic 5GB of online storage. Since I also subscribe to Microsoft 365, I get 1TB of storage. The OneDrive directory is local on my desktop and automatically uploads/downloads from the cloud. If I’m on the road (or my couch) with my laptop, it syncs to the same directory and voila, anything I’m working on is available to me; I just have to give it a few minutes when I first log on to let the files sync. I also sync my backups to OneDrive, though I find GoMach’s idea of cloud-syncing to a different service interesting.

I’ve nothing against Dropbox except I don’t feel like paying for two cloud services. If you opt to also purchase and use Scrivener for iOS then you have to use Dropbox for cloud syncing.

For anyone considering using Google Drive as a storage for Scrivener projects, please be aware of this Google Drive advisory that we have in the Knowledge Base.

If you’re storing Scrivener projects in Google Drive, please ensure that those projects are ZIP copies of your Scrivener projects only and not the live, working projects.

As a tech-support member, the worst part of any help ticket is having to tell the user, “I’m sorry, but your lost work can’t be recovered.”

I’m a writer too, and I know the feeling I get when I read or hear those words.

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Thanks RuthS (and bvorka). I was ONLY recommending Google Drive for the backup files (not projects). I was referring to DropBox as the storage for any project.

bvorka: consider the free version of DropBox ONLY for Scrivener (and the devices used for Scrivener). The free version limits you to a few devices (I think 3). Maybe that’s good enough if you only use for Scrivener. The load on the machine’s resources is not high if it’s only used for Scrivener.


GoMach, you are exactly correct re Dropbox limitations and resources. Unfortunately, I work with a group that uses Dropbox. The result is that my free account is pretty much entirely loaded with their files, leaving little for me.

OneDrive has been perfectly great and requires no more effort than using Dropbox. Its one failing is that it does not work at all with the iOS version of Scrivener. I understand there are technical limitations with OneDrive v Dropbox. It doesn’t matter to my workflow, though, as while I purchased and tried Scrivener for iPad, eventually my overall frustrations with iOS drive me away. As a result, my OneDrive sync works perfectly between using my desktop PC or my laptop PC.

If you use Dropbox for work-related purposes, why limit yourself to a free account?


3 SUGGESTIONS: ONE: I still encourage you to see if you can carve out enough space on your DB account just for currently edited Scrivener projects. I do believe L&L is correct even though I don’t understand the WHY behind their restriction. TWO: I strongly encourage you to look for settings in your chosen cloud service to see whether you can bump up the number of seconds it waits for a sync. I don’t know a “right” setting for that, but consider 6 to 10 seconds. THREE: I’d double-check that backups are happening correctly (and I’d pick a different cloud service from your projects) in case your main choice does mess up. I totally want you to have a backup.

Yeah, I get it. I detest using Dropbox (even aside from just an imposed rule that FEELS arbitrary [though isn’t]) because it periodically took an inordinate amount of CPU (often making me think my machine was frozen - Google Drive never does that - it’s just far better.) MY solution was to restrict DB to Scrivener use. DB seems to behave better with a small number of files.

That said, being limited to DB is a burden to users that are established elsewhere. But I’m not included in the tech reasons for their restriction. I just grit my teeth and bear it. I totally understand not wanting to spend on yet another cloud service (especially when you already are established in another).

I hope one day Scrivener will be able to support other cloud-based vendors for a wider audience. Until then, I limp along with a small slice of my free DB account that I limit strictly to devices that use Scrivener (avoiding DB’s free account device limit). Glad I have Drive for the backups.

It’s a volunteer organization, so not really “work” as such. I’m also finished with the major “work” so we need to clean out a lot of files. Last, I have no use for Dropbox with Scrivener as I’m using Windows-based products, and they work perfect with OneDrive.

Lovely suggestions, but not really applicable to my uses. DB’s most annoying change, for me, was limiting the free account to 3 devices, not the 2.5GB storage limit. That was far more difficult to work around than the storage limit.

L&L’s limitation for iOS and DB is driven by how Scrivener stores projects under iOS. They need more direct ties to the cloud service software, which apparently only DB provides (maybe iCloud to, I don’t recall). This was, as I understand it, driven by older limitations within iOS itself, or more specifically iPadOS. Current version of the OS allow more and better use of alternate cloud services, but L&L have stuck with DB. I’m assuming it’s because of limited company resources and I can’t really blame them.

IF a user is working in an Apple world, including Scrivener under iOS/iPadOS, then I recommend doing what’s necessary for working with DB. That’s not me, so OneDrive is fine.

The upload time is almost immediate once I close the file. While it’s open, it has a user lock so I can’t inadvertently access it at the same time on another device. Since OneDrive maintains local copes that are then duplicated in the cloud, when using my laptop I just need to give it a moment to sync up OneDrive and voila, I have all my projects on the road. It was easy to set up and takes care of itself.

Indeed, the only time I suffered a data loss was when I had an iPad and was syncing to DB. That may have been user error as I was still experimenting. Nothing like that has occurred during my use of OneDrive.

I am not attempting to encourage users to shift from the cloud service that works for them; I am very happy using OneDrive. From what little I know, L&L’s cloud limitation only applies to iOS/iPadOS users, so it’s a very specific subset of Scrivener users.

For anyone considering using Google Drive as a storage for Scrivener projects, please be aware of this Google Drive advisory that we have in the Knowledge Base.

If you’re storing Scrivener projects in Google Drive, please ensure that those projects are ZIP copies of your Scrivener projects only and not the live, working projects.

Good information, Thank you.

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