Scrivener for Windows performance problems and symlinks

I’m running Scrivener for Windows on a Win7 64 bit Lenovo laptop with 8 gig of RAM and a 1 TB hard drive. Typically when running Scrivener there’s about 4 gig of RAM free, and there’s about 580 gig of free disk space on my hard drive.

My Scrivener project occupies 37.4 meg of disc, and has 2525 files in 6 folders.

I keep my Scrivener files in a Dropbox folder. I normally only access the project from the laptop, not from any other computers.

Scrivener has become incredibly slow for certain operations. E.g., if I click on the top level folder in the binder it may take several minutes (during which it says “Not responding” in the title bar) before I can work on the manuscript. It can take several minutes to search the manuscript for a phrase. Other applications run fine, though I don’t have any other applications that would be managing that number of files.

When I tested opening the same project on my desktop (making sure I’d closed down Scrivener on the laptop and Dropbox had fully synced first), Scrivener was much more responsive. So I guessed that the problem may be disc access - the laptop has a typical 5400 rpm laptop drive in it.

In an attempt to improve performance I purchased a USB 3.0 SSD drive, and created a symlink folder in Dropbox to a folder on the SSD drive, and copied the Scrivener project to the symlink folder in Dropbox. This put the files on the SSD drive, as desired. But when I attempted to use the project by opening it from the symlink folder, as soon as I did anything inside the project - navigate to a file in the binder, do a search, etc. - Scrivener shuts down.

So I have a couple of questions:

  1. Should my strategy work - should it be possible to use a symlinked folder in Dropbox to keep the project files on the SSD drive, and successfully work on the project in Scrivener? If so, any thoughts about why it’s not working?
  2. Any other ideas about how to speed up Scrivener performance on the laptop?

Thanks in advance for any advice anyone can offer!

Due to the limitations of the platform used under Windows to mimic the Mac version’s Scrivenings mode, it’s a typical symptom that if you have Scrivenings enabled on a large number of files, then Scrivener stalls. This happens, for instance, when selecting the Draft folder on the binder.

This has been reported already, since there’s no way to cancel the lengthy operation of setting up the whole manuscript if you inadvertently used Scrivenings mode on a large number of files (AFAIK, it’s on the ToDo list for fixing).

Maybe taking an extra precaution of not going into this situation may alleviate the performance issues you’re experiencing.

Hope this helps!

  1. Yes and no. Scrivener shouldn’t be just crashing, and I’m not sure why that’s happening. I tested this just with a very basic Scrivener project and a flash drive and was able to manipulate the project, although my speeds are somewhat reversed from yours, so working from the external tended to produce delays rather than negate them. It may be that certain files in your project or just the size of it are posing a problem, but without a lot more testing in the specific environment you have I can’t say which or why. If you cut the symlink from the equation and work directly from the SSD, do you see the same problem?

Regarding the symlink and Dropbox, that may not be doing what you want it to anyway. With the file really stored on the external and only the symlink in Dropbox, the changes you make to your project aren’t synced until Dropbox restarts and indexes the folder. So the symlink may not really be serving your purpose, if you’re trying for redundant backups and versions. You’re also at risk working with the symlink to an external drive, since the whole thing can get wiped from Dropbox if the drive isn’t available when Dropbox tries to index it. You may want to look into using a different sync service that can monitor the files directly on the SSD without the symlinking or just school yourself to make regular backups manually–set up Scrivener to create an automatic backup on File > Save, for instance, and save those backups into Dropbox, then just hit Ctrl+S every hour. (You’ll want to make sure you have Scrivener set to keep a high number of backups in that case, so you’re not overwriting older ones too soon.)

  1. As r6d2 suggests, loading large Scrivenings sessions will slow things down, likewise manipulating or loading large media or image files. If you use inline images in your text (not just as references imported to the binder), you may benefit from using linked images with smaller thumbnails while you’re working, then replacing them with the higher-res images when you’re ready to compile. You can read up on linked images in section 15.5.2 of the user manual.

For the search, you may want to try using Tools > Save and Rebuild Search Indexes. Searching shouldn’t take all that long, although there’s a bug we’re working to fix now where the initial search in a session can take significantly longer than it should. Following that though it’s usually much speedier, so if you’re having trouble after the first search it may be that your search indexes are corrupted. Rebuilding them is worth a try.

I’m having the same issue, but I’m not sure I understand what Scrivenings means. Can someone explain it to me?

I have two large projects, one is an alphabetical reference and has 26 Blue folders (for A to Z), and multiple text documents under them. The total document count in that one is 385.

The second is a database of sorts, a listing of authors and their books, same set up as before, each author in a blue folder and each book in a text document under that folder, with 1256 documents in total.