Scrivener just undid a morning's worth of work! :(

I have been typing away on my dissertation (which is due way too soon) all morning. I just went back through a section that I had made significant changes to, and to my absolute horror, found that what was showing up on the document was the old version. I have absolutely no idea why Scrivener undid all my changes or how to get them back. PLEASE HELP! I am going to cry. I can’t afford to have my work lost.

With a recently completed doctorate, I feel your pain. Back up your hard disk to preserve what is there (you do use TimeMachine or some other backup system don’t you?) and contact Technical support as soon as possible: mac [dot] support at literatureandlatte [dot] com

Keith and Ioa are very good at tracking down what may have happened and may be able to recover your work.

I have never lost any work in Scrivener. It is known for it’s stability on the Mac which was one of the many reasons I used it for my thesis (after the countless hours of work I have lost using Word over the years). The odds are good your work will be found.

This is happening to me too! Inconsistently. I can’t replicate it on purpose, but it’s happened to me at least twice. I don’t know what to do! I’m so distraught. Were you able to recover your changes?

Things to look out for:

Are you using anything that copies or moves your projects automatically (like Dropbox)? Synchronizing services like this can mess you up if you are not very careful, or if the service does a poor job of that synchronization (, for instance, won’t even back up your Scrivener project on a Mac). If you are doing this, then find your project, right-click on it and select “Show Package Contents”, then look for files whose names seem to deviate from most of the others. Dropbox, for instance, renames files with “conflicted” in their names if there’s a sync problem.

Are you using Save As to create backups? That can lead you to accidentally edit the copy instead of the original, but later return to the original that lacks your additions or edits.

Those are the most common culprits of missing data that I’ve noticed.

I am not doing either of those things to my knowledge. My friend linked me to this post about a known bug: … ng#p144802

Maybe that’s what happened? I do a LOT of work in scrivener and do leave my file open for long periods sometimes. (How do you define long periods?!) Is there any way to recover the lost work, if this is what has happened to me? I have been religiously making backups–I set it to make a backup every time I manually save, and I’ve been manually saving regularly–but none of my backups contain any of my work for the last several days! I am near tears, here, with the amount of work I’ve lost, now twice! (I’ve spent the last week reconstructing from a similar event.)

I’m afraid to think of how many other documents I might have with lost line edits that I don’t know about yet. This is a HUGE bug! A warning of the potential problem might have been nice!

Oh, ugh. I’ve been using the beta for so long, I forgot that it hadn’t been released with this fix already.

It could indeed be this bug rearing it’s ugly head. I don’t know if there’s anything that can be done, but from here on out, you have two choices: close your project daily (it should re-open to the same configuration and at the same place as you were when you closed it), or upgrade to the beta. I’m sorry I can’t advise you on any possible recovery methods, but I would suggest you copy all of your current backups so that they don’t get erased as you add new ones.

This is a HUGE bug!!!

And I’m not getting anything but silence from tech support. This is SO SO frustrating! Also, what good are backups if they don’t contain ANY of the changes I’ve made to the file? I have been examining my files within the backups and… so far as I can see, my changes are not in them. I don’t know where Scrivener stores those edits if not in the individual rtf files. I mean, you can see them on the page in scrivener–but not in the individual .rtf file? Where are they in between? There must be a place or they wouldn’t stay onscreen?

How will I know when I’ve had scrivener open too long? How will I know when the bug hits me? I can’t live with this, and I’m feeling very upset. And I am very troubled that such a huge bug was known about but no customers were warned? I can’t be the only person to work for many hours or days on the same project without closing it. I mean, every indicator that tells you if you’re saved and/or successfully backed up or not said I was! This is absolutely terrible.

I can’t address the customer support issues (being just another guy on the forums), but I understand that the bug is triggered in a few very rare circumstances by the project being open for more (maybe much more) than 24 hours (maybe twice that, or more?). The issue is in the automatic saving code, that takes your changes and saves them to the disk. For some reason after a certain number of hours, that automatic saving code stops working until you quit scrivener and start it up again. That’s the reason that your missing stuff isn’t in a backup: it was never saved to your hard drive.

That’s all I know, but I also know that this is an extremely rare occurrence in the history of Scrivener and even in this version, and that now that I’m running the beta with the (tentative) fix in place, I still trust Scrivener more than I do other programs. I have a great deal of sympathy for your plight, and I hope that tech support is able to get back to you shortly with better news.

Just leaving the project open for extended periods isn’t enough to trigger the bug. It will only occur in a document if the document has been open as part of a Scrivenings session for over two days and has not been edited (no changes have been made in the text of that document) in over two days. At that point, changes made in the document (while still in this same Scrivenings session) are not properly saved into the individual RTF files as they should be, so although they remain in the display, when you reload the document (e.g. by opening it in the editor alone or in a QR window), none of those changes appear. Since the edits aren’t getting saved to the files, the backups aren’t recording them either–as far as the system is aware, that RTF file hasn’t been modified in over two days. They are persistent in the Scrivenings session until it closes, so if that’s still available (you mentioned that you can see them on the page), copy the text from there and paste it into a new document to make sure it all saves. Then refresh the Scrivenings session or work in the individual documents to copy the text back to the appropriate locations.

As Robert said, the beta, which should be out as an update very shortly, fixes this bug, so if you haven’t already done so, please download and install that to ensure you can continue working in the way you’re used to without running into this awful bug. I’m so incredibly sorry that you lost work and for the all-around unpleasant experience. Having lost a good chunk of writing myself (network failure + Word crash), I know what a sick feeling it is, and I wish I had something better to offer for recovering the edits.

I use Scrivener (wonderful Scrivener!) mainly on my iMac, but when I’m away from home for several days I switch to working with my project on my laptop. I’m seeking help to avoid messing up how I save my project to Dropbox (or even just to my desktop, as a first step to putting it on Dropbox) without unintentionally creating multiple copies – such as those that now litter my computer (and to less extent my laptop). Having so many versions makes it difficult to remember which is the latest one. …OK, that’s a common problem.

My reason for posting this message is to ask people with more experience coping with unwanted extra copies if the following wacky plan might work: my project (still an infant, so not a huge file) is a biography with many parts, including comments and footnotes. Could I “finalize” every one of the incomplete scattered versions – in other words, transfer the “final” of each one onto a Word doc, so I could then compare all the versions on Word, retain from each one the most complete sections, and “copy & paste” those keeper parts into a newly named Scrivener version (where ideally the footnotes and comments would spring into place) – then do a search & destroy mission to delete all the others, both obsolete Scrivener copies and temporary Word docs. This would be a huge time commitment, but worth doing if it gets me back to working with just ONE regularly updated project, which I’ll be more careful not to clone when saving it and sending it back and forth via Dropbox.

Could this plan work as well as I hope?

Wow. That’s infuriating. Same thing just happened to me. I moved one document out of my draft folder and — whooop! — suddenly everything I did today was gone. So it just stops auto-saving after being open for so long? And you’re saying upgrading will fix this?

Yes, you should be using the latest version (2.4.1) which fixes this bug.