Sync best practice


This is my first post here and I really hope I’m not going over old ground. Please accept my apologies if I am.

I’d like some advice regarding workflow and synchronisation best practice.

I’m trying to write my first novel using Scrivener on multiple devices. I use a surface laptop and a surface go tablet with keyboard cover. I also use an iPhone and an iPad, both using a Bluetooth keyboard.

I like to be able to write when out and about, so in the car, at the park etc which is why I use several portable devices, as well as writing on my larger laptop at home. I have been using dropbox which has been fairly painless, although I have had a few conflicts pop up but they seem to have been resolved without issues.

Running Windows 11, everything is saved to OneDrive. The way I am currently working is I have my scrivener folder stored in the dropbox folder, in my user folder, so deliberately outside of OneDrive. Is it safe to work directly with the files in the DB folder or is it better to work from a folder in OneDrive, then after closing Scrivener copying the latest Scrivener file into DB for syncing to other devices? Perhaps the other way round is better? Work directly with DB files then copy across to OneDrive.

I’m trying to work out the safest and most reliable way or working. I don’t mind there being a few extra steps in my workflow if it makes it safer.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


The two most common ways of working are described in our knowledge base, with extensive advice on how to best make them work efficiently and safely:

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If I use two MAC computers, one at home, one on the road, will all the work be synced in Scrivener?

I’ve merged your post with a very similar one made a few minutes ago on the same topic. You should find the above information answers your questions. It certainly does not automatically if that is what you meant to imply! We have no business rooting around in your data or copying it to our servers. Your work is private unless you yourself choose to store it on another company’s server.

First, if you don’t already, suggest to understand the difference between syncing and backup. Syncing creates a mirror of the file and/or folder. Backup creates a separately stored backup. If you make an error when syncing, it will propagate to your mirrored files. Backups (ideally .zips) will preserve the history, allowing you to go back before the error. (note: zips also can’t be accidentally opened as projects which prevents accidents of a backup zip overwriting your .scriv file.)

Second, under Settings > Backup, I recommend to select all options and then set a backup location that is different than the location of your source file (never save source files and backups in the same folder). Selecting these additional options will ensure your backups are compressed as zips, have a date/time stamp added to the file name, and save a backup when you open a file and when you manually save. This will help reduce the conflicts you have had between devices.

Third, under Settings > General > Automatic Quit. I recommend to automatically quit it after a particular period of time (I do 30 minutes but you may prefer a different amount of time). This helps prevents conflicts between versions on different devices, if you forget to quit each time you finish working on a device. However, manually quitting (not closing) is a best practice I recommend you get into the habit of doing. For example, if I make a changes on my iOS app, I always back out to the top level and watch it sync (it’s syncing to Dropbox, of course) when I’m finished to reduce conflicts. When I finish working on my Mac, I manually save (command + S) and then Quit Scrivener (command + Q). This will save you a lot of conflict headaches.

Fourthly, I recommend you Google 3-2-1 backup strategy and explore a preferred variation that works for you. I started a thread to gather people’s different backups strategies here: I did this for my own learning and I would suggest some people’s practices in that thread are more efficient than mine. But, you can see what different people are doing and craft your own strategy from the advice. My approach that I showed there was designed to use only free services or free tiers of services to illustrate you don’t need to start paying different platforms money to design an effective syncing and backup strategy.

Finally, and most importantly, I recommend you validate your syncing and backup system is working at least once a day. More if you are writing extensively each day. I can validate that all my syncs and backups are successful in 15 seconds across four platforms (see link). Some people get so used to their automated system that they forget about it and only when they run into trouble do they realize it stopped working a number of months ago. So, a minimum of checking it worked once a day is time well spent.

Hope this helps.


This is good advice. (Even if I don’t always follow it.)

Among other things, synchronization depends on at least two pieces of software outside of Scrivener: the operating system and the sync service. Both of those can (and have!) change how they work in between updates, without necessarily explaining clearly that they’ve done so.

And so Dropbox quietly starts storing your projects exclusively in the cloud, and you don’t realize it until you’re in a hotel room with your laptop and suddenly half your project is missing. Oops!


So true! Have you ever thought about introducing your own cloud-based service? Either a cloud-hosted product or the same excellent desktop product but with the addition of saving to Scrivener’s own online storage.

No. Running a cloud service is a whole area of expertise (and cost) in itself. We don’t have much interest in being a third-rate product in a very crowded space.

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That’s an insightful response. You know what your product is and, just as importantly, you know what it’s not.

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