Should I switch from Dropbox backups to iCloud?

Hi there,

I just finally upgraded my MacBook after years of waiting to do so. Scrivener became mostly unusable for me on my old MacBook because of issues I was having with Dropbox and so things wouldn’t sync properly.

I have had a number of frustrating issues trying to get MacOS, iOS and Dropbox to play nice together and was wondering whether any of you have switched successfully from backing up on Dropbox to using iCloud.

I’d love to hear any thoughts or pointers on best practices at this point.


Just a quick update - it seems to have downloaded everything okay - so I’m not sure if it’s necessary to switch at this point. But still am generally curious your thoughts!

Mac and Dropbox play very well together. Install the Dropbox app and follow the guide on setup. Couldn’t be easier.

You can use iCloud for backups. The best way is to select Zip backups and point to an iCloud folder as your backup location. Note, this is distinct from saving your project to iCloud or syncing with iCloud which should be a strong NO!

The title of your post says backups, but in your post you write:

So which of the two processes is it you are having problems with? As Astaff writes, backup and save are completely different things, and syncing with iOS devices is anorher process, not at all related to backups. It seems that you don’t really understand some of the basics.

As already pointed out, backup and sync are two different things, but I thought it might be useful to give an example. My backup strategy is that I use Backblaze to make a continuously updated copy of my hard drive, which is stored in the cloud. I also have my hard drive backed up by Time Machine, to a partition on an external hard drive which sits on my desk. Another partition on that disk stores a clone of the hard drive which is made every evening by Carbon Copy Cloner. Scrivener files are backed up in zipped format and stored in an iCloud folder, but of course that folder is also backed up by the methods already mentioned. I hope this strategy keeps my data reasonably safe. Sync is another thing, I use Dropbox for synching Scrivener projects, while other sorts of file are mainly synched via OneDrive. iCloud has been quite unreliable at times over the past nine months, and I am reluctant to use it much.

I just wonder if the OP has his backups set to Dropbox and is putting his active projects in the same Dropbox folder. That screws things up.


Along the lines previously described, I have a similar situation.

Previously, my devices were an iMac and iPad and I used Dropbox to sync Scrivener between the two devices using the iPad primarily when I travel.

I recently bought a MacBook Air for travel use and I decided to check the box in iCloud in System Preferences to sync the Desktop and Documents for both the iMac and the MacBook Air. Which basically means the Documents folder for both Macs is now in iCloud so any changes to any documents (including Scrivener documents I would assume) are updated on the fly in iCloud.

And since iPad OS (and iOS for that matter) have the Files app that syncs with iCloud to replicate a Mac OS Finder type experience on iOS, iPad also has access to those same files that are updated on the fly in iCloud as well.

So given the use of iCloud as I have described above, does it not make more sense to just use that Scrivener file in the Documents folder in iCloud that syncs across all Apple devices rather than Dropbox?

I would just like some input before I delete the Scrivener files from Dropbox and use iCloud as my primary Scrivener sync option.

Do you notice this in terms of impact on your system? I’ve never done proper cloud backups and have always wondered.

Have you sucessfully opened and saved a project on iCloud Drive from iOS Scrivener?

Scrivener needs to have rhe whole project, all its sub-folders and sub-files, on the HD and not have some of them only on the iCloud server, and iCloud is known to be a bit unreliable in this respect. So I wouldn’t dare use iCloud Drive to sync between Macs. Dropbox is much more reliable.

I’ve never noticed any impact. The initial backup is typically done over a couple of days, in order not to hog the wires, then it is only files that have changed that get backed up. I find Time Machine is more noticeable, because it has to wake up the hard drive then do a lot of writing.

As has been stated here and on dozens of threads NO! In case I’m not being clear NO, NEVER, Don’t do it!

The developer has made it abundantly clear that Dropbox is the only sync system that handles Scrivener projects correctly. ICloud (Google Drive etc) may appear to work correctly, but sooner, rather than later they will royally screw your project. If you have a robust backup system you MAY get your precious work back after blind panic, sinking feelings etc.

It is not worth the risk.

If you don’t believe me/us, search the MANY threads on this subject for Keith and teams plain statements warning against iCloud and others.

That is not actually true. We do specifically recommend against using Google Drive, but other services work fine as long as the best practices discussed here are followed: … c-services
The most common way for synchronization to go awry is through user error: failure to finish synchronization before changing devices. For that reason, services that provide a clear indication of sync progress are preferred over those that don’t.

There are two very important caveats, though.

First, only Dropbox is supported for synchronization with iOS devices. There are workarounds via the Files app, but they are not true synchronization solutions. Other services can only be used with devices that have a true file system: if the project is stored in that file system, Scrivener doesn’t care how it got there.

Second, Scrivener expects that the entire project is stored locally and immediately accessible. This means that all forms of “smart sync” that purport to “optimize” local storage are untrustworthy and should not be used. That includes the Dropbox smart sync options.

Finally, no service, including Dropbox, should be trusted as your only backup of critical data. Synchronization services, by design, propagate all changes to all connected devices at internet speeds. That’s a recipe for disaster if the data being propagated is wrong.