Scrivener losing chapters during Dropbox Sync

Is anyone else having trouble with this? I’ve lost two complete chapters at separate times during dropbox syncs over the last two months. Not that they didn’t sync, that finished chapters were erased of content, leaving a blank “scene” file. I only notice because I leave all my Chapter folders expanded all the time in the left sidebar. The only reason I was able to salvage them without digging deeply through dropbox’s file history is I edit on three separate devices. One computer and two different iPads, and I was able to open up a non-synced version on one of the ipads, and copy the missing chapter into a new scriv file, then copy it back into my novel once everything had synced.

This is a crippling issue IMO. If I had actually lost an entire chapter and had to rewrite it, I would be very leery of continuing to use Scrivener.

I know Scrivener tells you when a chapter has been changed elsewhere during a sync, but it doesn’t seem to be aware of stuff getting erased like this. If there’s not work being done on ensuring better dropbox updates, could there be some sort of version differential highlight thing that draws attention to changes, intentional or otherwise?

Most likely files are not “getting erased,” but rather failing to download to the local device.

The master index file used to build the Binder is separate from the files containing your actual writing. So an “empty” item in the Binder is a sign that the content file is missing.

Incomplete synchronization is one reason for this. Another is that “smart” synchronization tools can “helpfully” store content exclusively in the cloud, only downloading to the local device on demand.

A troubleshooting guide for iOS synchronization can be found here: Quick Troubleshooting for iOS Syncing / iOS / Knowledge Base - Literature and Latte Support

Maybe I can add something useful here.

I’ve never had an issue with Scrivener and Dropbox, syncing Win10 and iPad either new or old, but another app with less thought-out design apparently can sometimes not connect to Dropbbox files reliably. That’s a short statement of a typically more convoluted problem.

I looked in to this further today, and it appears that what can happen is that Dropbox doen’t release a file to be used until it can verify that the latest update has been taken. In other words, even though a file, as @kewms Katherine suggests can be the actual text vs. the binder marker for it, is actually present, Dropbox won’t ‘show’ it to the requesting app unless it can ‘phone home’ successfully at that moment to check the version.

What this means is that if you have a hiccup or other disconnection in your wifi, for example, a Dropbox file can be come unavailable, even though it’s there. This is what apparently happens to my misbehaving app (otherwise excellent IA Writer) when a file won’t open, and then the condition ‘sticks’ until I manage to convince Dropbox to try again, which it doesn’t do at least soon automatically.

This is probably sounding complicated, and beneath the covers it is. What I would suggest is that the next time you seem to see this problem, simply do a full power-off on your iPad, and then restart it. Full power down is when you convince the iPad to show you a slider which you move to accomplish this. How you get that depends on your model of iPad, so check the apple online notes. It’s easy when you know how, and is different from what happens when you just click the power button.

Doing this full restart is healthy to do from time to time anyway on iPads, as errors you don’t necessarly see do accumulate, so that it’s often visibly smoother afterwards. It won’t hurt anything, and will reset things like Dropbox’s idea of whether a file is available. Also you get a fresh start on your wifi connection. Afterwards, then, your Scrivener project’s files will all be available, and all should work as smoothly as it usually does.

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I’ll give the ipad restart a try, unfortunately I usually only notice the missing chapter when I’m at my computer because I leave my chapter folders expanded all the time, and the blank “scene” text stands out. Thanks for the tip though.

Hmm. If I understand what you say, this problem may be occurring at the Windows pc/laptop end, rather than on the iPads.

Something of the same explanation can apply, plus all the things that can occur on Windows, not the most reliable system as is well known. And depending on your setup, apps, background programs, etc…

I would suggest two things, then:

  1. When you see the problem on the PC, reboot it. Full stop and start; just closing a laptop for example won’t be enough. I rather suspect this will make the problem go away, by the time you get Scrivener open again.

  2. Given this works, you’d just do it any time you see the problem, and would expect matters to get better the next time you replace that machine. But in fact, it might be something you are doing which you could change and much improve matters.

That’s if you have the habit of not shutting down your machine regularly — letting it run on a desk, alway on; or with a laptop, just closing the lid so that it sleeps, for what seems the convenience.

The problem is, that errors can accumulate this way, so that a problem like yours can develop. Windows is much better on this than in the early days, but this may only mean that you don’t get a dramatic problem before something like your issue shows up.

The solution is to reboot with some regularity. Shutting down fully, poser off, overnight is safest, and easy to recommend. But if you have an idea how often you see your problem, and are strongly attached to leaving machines running, you could work out a timing, perhaps half the interval before the issue is likely to show up, and use that as your schedule for reboots.

Ok — you may know all this, but seemed useful to spell it out, also as a note for others. And i hope this practical way of dealing with the realities of our computers helps show a path. The more you know about all that really goes on with them, the more cleaning up often by reboots appeals :wink:

i can say I think safely that very few persons see your problem, and that iScrivener itself is very effectively designed to deal with many things that actually do occur in Dropbox scenarios, so that we get the good use of it.

Best fortune, then, that these simple means will get you the same enjoyment

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If you’re having to reboot Windows every night to solve Dropbox problems, you have something else going on – overly intrusive “security” software, malware, too many unstable helper programs, something.

I use Scrivener and Dropbox on the same main PC that I regularly use to run Ableton Live, OBS, and other heavy-duty apps. I never have Dropbox problems. Before this PC, I ran Scrivener and Dropbox on my Surface Pro 3 for years, again with zero issues.

The first candidate to look at it your Power Management settings. Some network drivers allow the network interface to be turned off to save power even when the computer is still active. This can cause issues with programs like Dropbox. Disable this setting, or switch to a power management profile that disables this setting. Then, make sure you’re cleanly closing down Scrivener, and waiting for Dropbox to finish syncing, before you do anything like shutting down/pausing/closing the lid.


Devin, that’s surely a good thought, for anyone who’s comfortable going into Win10 Settings>Power & Sleep Settings>Additional power settings, where you can choose a profile. One labelled something like Maximum Power would be the one to try, to see if it eliminates this issue, think you’d agree. After seeing that worked, more detail is available for finer tuning, with help from a knowledgeable person if needed.

I also want to bring in a very thoughtful point that @anon56864026 raised in a private message – they deserve the credit for sure, if maybe a bit shy, as this is something I’d completely forgotten.

In short, it’s that Windows hides things again when it comes to really fresh booting your machine. The funny thing is that this affects power-off/power-on, which may not actually give a clean restart.

What does give a cleanup as we are looking for is to do an ordinary Restart instead, from the Start Menu>Power menu. They probably think that’s clear…

So although I stated to do a power-down overnight, this isn’t guaranteed to clear problems, unless you have another setting turned off, which is called Fast Startup. Unfortunately, as @anon56864026 notes, Microsoft resets this to be on sometimes after a Windows Update, even if you turned it off, as I long ago have.

Also, though our friend gives an excellent link for setting this, unfortunately it appears Microsoft has removed control of it by now, as no such settings appear on my machine.

It may be simpler just to do do a Start Menu>Power>Restart as often as necessary, to see if you can avoid the current problem this way – separately from when you do ordinary shutdowns…

What’s (or what was) Fast Restart? The idea was for persons who don’t have an SSD, but rather an older once-‘normal’ hard disk, as these are relatiively quite slow. Fast Restart in that case would give a bit of a shortening of startup times – it isn’t dramatic. For that, the SSD is the way these days.

Microsoft was just try ing to improve their ‘face’, and as so often, making things a bit tricky because of it. That’s also why they silently reset it sometimes when you didn’t ask. And maybe why they may still have this, but autoset it perhaps, depending on whether you have an SSD.

Hoping all this helps, and I know all contributers here do…


As I understand it, Fast Startup is disabled and its options aren’t printed at System Settings if hibernate is disabled. Maybe that’s the case for you?


You know, you’re right – that’s just what I have, hibernation off as it doesn’t add anything since I have an SSD, and sometimes causes issues.

Glad you posted that contemporary article link, as indeed this might help our originally posting friend…

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