Spinning beach ball

I’ve been a highly satisfied Scriviner user since April 2007, but in the past week something odd started to happen. When I try to click between files in the panel, I often get the spinning beach ball and everything freezes up for 20 to 40 seconds before I can resume work. I can hear a tick-tick-tick sound from the computer, which sounds like it’s trying to save something.

This doesn’t occur every time I switch files – sometimes it happens every minute or two, sometimes every ten minutes. I first thought this might be a systemwide memory issue, so I deleted files and movies and now have plenty of space. But the problem persists, and only when I’m using Scrivener. And it seems to affect all Scrivener documents not just one or two.

I’ve tried:

  • resetting auto save to every 5 minutes rather than two seconds. This may help, but only sometimes.
  • restarting the program and the computer. Several times. No effect.
  • upgrading to the current 1.11 from the earlier incarnation, and converted all my files to be readable by the new version. Same problem persists.

Is something corrupted somewhere? Any suggestions? I’ve had to copy some text into Word for editing. The horror. The horror.


Obviously, this doesn’t sound right. How large is your .scriv file? If it’s of reasonable size, you could zip it up and send it to me at support AT literatureandlatte DOT com so that I could take a look.

Do you have any big media files loaded? Do you have lots of images? If you have lot of images, it might be worth choosing not to view images as photos on the corkboard via the Navigation preferences, as it can take some time to generate the thumbnails for lots of images on the corkboard, which could slow things down if you were clicking on a folder containing lots of image files.

Anything you can tell me about your project that might be pertinent might help me figure out what is going on.

Thanks and all the best,

You mention that you hear a sound that reminds you of “saving” a file. As a quick test make a copy of the file and see if you have the same problem. If you problem goes away then you may have a bad sector on your hard disk. if this is the case:

  2. Make sure you actually did #1
  3. Run disk utility and verify disk. It may find an error but may not be able to fix it.
    3a. If you #3 found an error but was unable to fix it (relocates data) then run the disk utility from your install cd.
  4. Schedule a drive replacement (or do it yourself if you are comfortable and out of warrantee/apple care)
  5. Restore that backup from #1.

Hopefully it is something different than a hardware failure (sorry KB).

Definitely do follow the steps Jaysen provided. Very slow disk access times (which is what is happening when you click between things in Scrivener) and excessive drive activity can mean you are about to suffer a filesystem collapse (which a full reformat and reinstall will fix) or a hardware failure.

There is a common scenario which can make things look like this situation, without being so bad: You are simply out of memory. If you run completely out of RAM space, your computer switches to doing much of its work with the hard drive, using virtual memory. This is really slow, and will drive nearly everything you do to a halt. If the whole computer feels sluggish this might be your problem, and a simple reboot will fix the issue. If it happens repeatedly, consider upgrading your RAM. If it is just disk access, I agree with Jaysen: Every time I’ve had a system start doing this one day, it means I’ve got anywhere from hours to a day or two to back up before it shuts down for good and I lose everything that isn’t backed up.

Thanks for this excellent advice. I started by copying one or two of the problematic Scriv documents, and the speed picked up and the spinning beach ball disappeared. I’m still suspecting this may be a temporary relief and that something more systemic is happening. The memory is fine for now (15G left on the hard disk), but it may be my disk is having issues. I’ve backed up, but need to wait until after holidays to do anything major – and this may be the excuse I’ve been looking for to replace and upgrade my iBook.

Thanks again for the advice, and thanks for Scrivener.

Harddisk is not memory, just so you know :wink:

Go to Spotlight (the magnifying glass in the upper right corner of the screen) and start typing “activity”. Click Activity Monitor when it appears, and select the “System Memory” page from the lower section. Keep an eye on that while doing your usual work.

If free memory never drops disastrously low, chances are your drive is on the way out. Back up, double-check the backup’s validity and get that drive replaced ASAFP. Disaster looms.