Unstable behavior

UPDATE: I forgot to add that I was using Dropbox to attempt syncing across a PC and Mac environment.


I recently gave Scrivener a shot on my Windows machine and was dismayed when I discovered that all of my work from the previous day was gone, even after saving. In addition, the software was exhibiting unstable behavior in the form of odd text replacements. Some of the missing content would crop up when I made a blank new page. I could not discern the pattern as to which text would come up, but it was very disorienting. I have discontinued my use of Scrivener for Windows for the time being because I cannot afford to lose data like that. I hope it will become more stable over time as it is the best product out there in terms of features for writers.

Any help would be appreciated!

Given that there are not numerous reports of such here in the forums, the problem is most likely something local to your computer, rather than with Scrivener.

As for Scrivener itself… Uninstall, re-download it, reinstall it and see if that helps.

If you created and worked on a Scrivener project on a previous day, it likely still exists… Try using File Explorer to search for folder names ending in .scriv and/or file names ending in .scrivx

Some anti-virus/anti-malware software such as BitDefender doesn’t like and messes with Scrivener. You may need to turn such off during download and install.

You may need to try alternate anti-virus/anti-malware software. A good one that you can try is Malwarebytes AntiMalware at malwarebytes.org None of them are 100% perfect??? but that’s the fallback tool I used in my work.

Beyond that, there’s a number of possibilities centering on the computer and software on it…

What other software is running?

How much RAM (chip memory) is on the PC?

Version of Windows?

How much free space on system drive (typically C: )?

If your computer manufacturer offers a systems diagnostic utility (already installed or available on their download site), use it to check your computer’s hard drive, RAM (chip memory), etc. the manufacturer of the hard drive in your computer may also offer a hard drive diagnostics utility.

If not, or to supplement/double check that, do the following things.

Run an integrity check on the file system on the system drive. In the old days, that was done via the CHKDSK utility. Now days… I’m drawing a blank… Right click on C: drive and see if something is offered there… perhaps in Properties. Or look in Control Panel. A Google search on “Windows drive check” or some such should turn up an answer.

Run a RAM (chip memory) test. If you are game to create a bootable CD/DVD or USB, search for, download, set up and use MemTest86 or MemTest86+.

Hope that helps. Post back here to let folks know how it goes.

As already stated, this isn’t a common problem at all. It sounds as though the project has been corrupted and the binder file isn’t in sync with the document files. (Quick background, a Scrivener project is not a single file but multiple files within a project folder, and their names and location relative to one another are critical for all the pieces to come together properly in the project. Only Scrivener should ever be directly modifying the files in the project directory.) I’ve seen this sort of thing most commonly with a bad sync, e.g. when a project is kept in a Dropbox folder and not all the pieces sync correctly across machines, but that doesn’t seem likely to be your problem here unless you neglected to mention you’d been working on this same project across different computers. :wink:

The same sort of issue could occur if the project.scrivx file were damaged or modified, or if any of the files in the project were moved or altered. If you accidentally moved the project.scrivx file out of the .scriv folder, for instance, you’d be able to open the project but all you’d see is the skeleton in the binder–none of the files would actually load when you clicked them, because the file paths would be broken. Similarly, if you have some sort of computer cleaning software or backup software that’s touching the files in the project, Scrivener may not be able to access them and so is showing blank pages because it just can’t load the underlying RTF.

If you’re using something like IDrive Backup or Carbonite, I’d exclude your Scrivener projects from the backups (at least when the project is open) and instead save your automatic backups in Scrivener to a location that is indexed by the backup software. (You can adjust Scrivener’s backup settings in Tools > Options; you may want to increase the number of backups saved and enable the option to create a backup on Ctrl+S to make it extra easy to make frequent backups.)

Finally, for this particular project, check your backups first of all. Scrivener makes a complete project backup on close, so you may have this and be able to simply restore it and carry on. In Scrivener, go to Tools > Backups and click “Open Backup Folder” to reveal the backup files in Windows Explorer. If the backups are stored as zip archives (they are by default), you’ll need to extract a copy of the project before you can open it in Scrivener. Either right-click the zipped folder and choose “Extract All” or double-click the folder and then drag out the .scriv folder to another location. You can then open the project in Scrivener as normal.

If that doesn’t work, try using the Windows search to look for specific phrases in the text. You may be able to turn up some documents from within the project. Documents in a project are saved as numbered RTFs, e.g. 8.rtf, so if you get some hits, check the file properties to find the path and then go look to see what else is in that location. It could be that all or most of your text files are still saved and together, just not in the location they should be, or not being read properly by the project file. If the RTFs themselves are okay, you can import them into a new project or potentially restore the current one through another method.

I have the exact same problem. Literally the Scrivener files I create on MAC will not open up on my windows machine even though they are fully synched (I use Dropbox).

This problem never occurred when I was using only MAC and synching it, but at the new job I have a windows PC.

It is not the sync that is causing problems, but rather something with the PC version and how it interacts with the Mac one.

If it is the same problem as initially described, i.e. that your Mac-edited project is opening on Windows but you are not seeing all the new documents created on the Mac listed in the project binder, then it sounds very much like your project’s .scrivx file is not in sync between the two machines. This is the backbone file of the project, indexing all the contents, so if it is not in sync between the two machines, even if the individual RTF files you created on the Mac are present in the project, they will not appear in the binder–they will however start to pop up when you begin creating new documents, as at that point Scrivener will use an ID number for a new item that is already in use, since it was created on the other machine.

If you have a single copy of the project that has everything, I would a) make a zipped backup of the full project, b) remove the project from Dropbox on both machines, c) go through Dropbox’s steps for clearing the cache and possibly reboot both machines, d) go through the project’s files (right-click and choose “Show Package Contents” if you’re on the Mac) and remove any conflicted or duplicate files, then e) put the Scrivener project back in Dropbox and allow it to completely sync before opening it on either machine. There were some cases a while ago where Dropbox wasn’t properly syncing all files between connected systems (not Scrivener specific, but as a general problem), so this could be an artefact of that sort of problem, even when it appears that the projects have been updating.

If the two machines are sufficiently out of sync in the project now that you can’t just take one as the master, you’ll need to go through a little more work. Backup the project on both machines, then copy the Windows backup to the Mac and extract it so you can work with the two versions of the project side by side. Go through steps b-d above, then before the final step, open both projects, pick one as the master, and drag any documents you need to salvage from the binder of the other into the master. Then close the projects and move the master back into Dropbox and allow it to sync.

Finally, in case I misunderstood and the problem is that the Mac project won’t open at all on Windows, go through the project folder and make sure you don’t have any conflicted files or duplicates, especially of the .scrivx file. That can prevent it from opening on Windows.

Same problem, except I no longer own the original PC the files were created on. I only have what’s in Dropbox and this new Mac (which replaced the PC). When I open the .rtf files, as you suggest, there is only content that you’d find in a template file. Do I have any hope of recovering this work? Thanks!


The following might or might not be of assistance re DropBox.

If you were ever able to open and work on what appeared to be the full project on the Mac, I believe the Mac operating system offers its own backup/recovery facility… called Time Machine, I think… I would defer to others on that.

For the future, I would suggest…

  • In addition to using DropBox and local backup copies, also periodically back projects up to USB thumb drives and/or CDs/DVDs.

  • Periodically verify that DropBox and other backups are actually working and restorable. That means routinely at least verifying date/time stamps and overall project size of backups on those other locations/media… and at least occassionally actually restoring and opening recovered copies of projects.