Synching projects across Windows

I have just bought a netbook running WinXP and my main reason for buying it was so that I could run Windows versions of Scrivener on my WinVista desktop and also on the WinXP netbook.

I’m a great fan of manual synching and have been dragging my entire Scrivener documents folder onto a flash drive to take out with me but because I don’t really know how Scrivener works technically I thought I had better ask before I tried to do this.

Is it okay to work on Scrivener projects on my USB drive in XP, then copy the whole folder back again onto my desktop machine and open the docs in Scrivener and work on it? Or will this kill Scrivener, my docs and send me to hell in a hand basket?

And if I worked on my docs in Linux and then did the same thing (dragged them back onto my desktop, replacing the saved folder entirely with the one I’d been working on) would that still work?

And is there a preferred way that would be safer to synch my docs? Or maybe I should keep my copy of Scrivener always on the USB drive and only open that version on all my machines?

Please advise me, O Gurus of the ScrivenerVerse.

(And thanks. :slight_smile:

That sounds like a pretty good plan to me. Just make sure you always copy the whole “my project.scriv” folder, the one that contains the .scrivx file and the folders within it. You need that whole thing for the project to stay intact. Working off of a Flash drive can mean things run a little slower, and if it is an older drive, there might be durability concerns as those things are chemical and can wear out. The newer ones are much better. Best case, just copy the project folder to your local drive to work on, and then use the flash only for transfers between machines.

Your plan is fine. I strongly recommend that you make dated project backups and keep these around, especially if you’re going to be overwriting your “master” folder on the flash drive regularly–it would not be happy if you ended up accidentally saving an older version over the newer one. The method itself though of moving the full project folder from computer to computer will work. I’d stick with copying from the flash drive to your machine’s local hard drive in each case, unless maybe you’re really just making a couple small changes, because the performance will be better than if you’re reading/writing to the external every few seconds. Strictly speaking there’s nothing wrong with doing that, but it’s just likely that things will go a bit slower as you start working with larger files and larger projects where you want to be able to load a large set of documents at once (for the corkboard or Scrivenings, for instance). You can adjust the frequency of the auto-save in the General tab of Tools>Options… and that would help partially, but not with the loading time.

Some people do syncing with services like Dropbox or SugarSync or so forth, which has the appeal of being automatic, and at least in Dropbox’s case keeping some file versions in history for you (SugarSync may too, I’m just not as familiar with it), but there are also some other gotchas to watch out for there which you’re less likely to run into when copying projects manually. You do of course need to still make sure you close the project before you copy the folder to your flash drive, and you’ll want to make sure also that you do always get the latest copy on your external before switching to another computer, or if you and up doing new work in an outdated copy you’ll end up with two versions of your project that you’ll have to manually merge together. This again is where dating your copies (or at least checking the modified date on the file) will help keep things clear.

Do install Scrivener directly onto each of your machines rather than trying to run the program itself from the USB drive. All you need to move among the computers is your project folder.

Edit: Ioa always gets in first! Yar! :slight_smile:

Excellent, thanks. I was just worrying that perhaps there was some secret magic that the program needed that would stymie my file moving and surprise the program when it didn’t see something it was expecting - like a file with a newer date/time stamp or something.

I’ve been moving the WHOLE Scrivener docs folder every time between my usb drive and the hard drive. But from what you are saying I only need to move a project if I’ve worked on it? So if I have five projects and have only worked on one I only need to move the updated project folder - eg fluffy.scriv folder + contents - between locations?

Thanks again.


Yes, I have to refine my method of backups. Because I’m bound to drag the folder in the wrong direction one day… shudder

If it’s possible to work off the hard drive, that’s always faster so will do.

Yes, that is what I’ve got from what I’ve read of the advice elsewhere. And it makes total sense.

Okay, I feel all knowledged up now… :slight_smile:

Oh, one more question, is it possible to open the files from a Scrivener project in Windows on a Mac or in Linux as well? and to move them between different platforms? or would there be an issue with that?

Thanks for all your help. :slight_smile:


Definitely. The program is project based, not a database or some such, and in fact you can scatter these .scriv folders all over the place if you want—no need to keep them all lumped up together. I have at any given moment probably around a hundred of these things everywhere from external disks to various sub-folders. So yeah, just transfer the one you are working on.

It is all too easy to do that. Been there done that.

Note that Scrivener’s File/Backup Project To... menu command does datestamp by default, and has a handy zip option too. It’s actually very useful for transferring the project around since you can produce a transfer copy while the project is open, and the datestamp ensures you won’t be overwriting something you didn’t mean to. I just keep those hanging around on the transfer mechanism for a while, rather than delete them once I move machines. That way I have a trail of changes hanging around as well as any other backups; just in case.

Technically, you only need to move the project(s) that have changed. In my experience, though, it’s very easy to forget exactly what you’ve done, fail to transfer a project, and create problems for yourself that way. The advantage of automated sync tools is that they protect you from this sort of error.

To avoid this, I’ll create a folder with my current projects – including not only the Scrivener files but also the DevonThink and Tinderbox files for those projects – and copy everything in it back and forth. If I had more than a handful of such files at any one time, I’d use an automated tool.


That’s all very helpful, thanks. And thanks for making it so modular - being able to move projects around easily is great and also means that you can archive them out of the active folder when done. I really like that.

My one further question was about moving projects between platforms… can you open a Windows project on a Mac or under Linux and then move them back again? or is that playing with writerly fire?


The developers made sure that the file formats are compatible, so no worries between Windows & Mac; I do it all the time. As for Linux, someone else will have to speak to that, but I think the files themselves should migrate just fine.

I’ve had no problems moving between Mac and Linux. Haven’t tried windows and linux, but seeing as though I’m mostly using the windows/WINE variant these days, it’s probably not an issue.

I would say the Linux/Windows compatibility would be even more seamless than Mac/Either, mainly because right now the Mac and PC base are using different interface and compile setting files. So if you set up a workflow on a Mac and then move to PC you have to set up the splits and everything again; label tinting settings; all of that. Same goes for compile. But PC/Linux should theoretically have a clean transfer is the code base is the same.

Thanks garpu and AmberV. That clarifies things for me nicely. :slight_smile: