Urgent: 75,000 word book in jeopardy

I have not changed a thing and overnight there is no sign of any scrivener project in my scriv-app dropbox folder. I don’t even see a scriv file on dropbox anywhere. Somehow it got completely wiped without any cleaner or anything running.

My panic is that I don’t fully understand the folder structure. To keep this simple, I just need to make sure I am working on the current book and have restored it properly.

Please help. This is so urgent. I try to get in 1,000 words a day and have to stay on pace (at 75,000 words so far).

I found yesterday’s backup. Everything seems to be fine. I have saved as the original file name and put it in the dropbox scriv-app folder. I also made a backup in the usual Mac backup folder.

Am I now safe to start working on this file?

I discovered the loss of more than 20 projects when I synched my IOS overnight and all files disappeared.

I have not had a single glitch since IOS came out and, for that matter, since I first bought Scrivener a few years ago.

What in the world happened? How do I eventually get all my projects restored. And what the heck is the main scrivener.scriv file with the missing binderproj file? I have no idea how to get everything restored, how to rebuild scrivener.scriv and this binderproj file.

Keeping it simple, can I resume work on my book as described above and then go through however many steps to fix everything else?

I’m referring to Windows stuff here, since that is what your forum tag is set to, but do note you posted into the Mac tech support area. If you are on a Mac, just substitute Explorer for Finder and recycle bin for trash.

I would check the recycle bin on each computer that uses your Dropbox account and those sync folders. A mass disappearance of folders and files like you describe sounds more like something triggered by an action taken with a file manager with perhaps unintended consequences. For example I once shared a folder with someone and a year later they were doing some routine cleaning and wiped out a huge chunk of files from my Dropbox folder.

It was a simple matter to restore them through the Dropbox website interface, but it certainly reinforces the concept of not using Dropbox as your sole storage strategy and to always keep things backed up outside of it as well. Everything in that folder should be considered volatile, and more so the more devices you have connected to it.

To reassure you on one point: there are no possible routes by which you could have accidentally caused Scrivener itself to do this. All methods of mass deleting projects require one-by-one selection and confirmation on iOS—and of course on the PC there is no way to delete a project from Scrivener in the first place.

However on the other hand if you use Explorer to trash the contents of the sync folder and then sync—yeah, they’ll all vanish without a trace on iOS, because that is what it was “instructed” to do, and there would be no confirmations at that point. If a project is removed from the sync folder and you sync, it is presumed that was intentional.

So to put things into bullets:

  • First, use Dropbox’s built-in safeguards. Log into the website, drill down to this folder, enable the option to show deleted files and see if you can just select everything from there and restore it.
  • Secondly, there are your own backups. On a Mac there is Time Machine and there is similar for Windows as well I think—if it runs continuously you could potentially bulk restore from that.
  • Lastly, if for some reason that doesn’t work, you have your offline backups created by Scrivener when closing a project which it sounds like you’ve already located.

You should be okay. Even if the whole sync folder is recycled and the bin emptied, there are multiple ways of getting the stuff back where they should be.

This is all good to know and I will follow your steps with Dropbox, Amber.

I have never shared a link to my Dropbox file until this week and that could very well be the culprit.

Thank goodness I am so careful about backups that I have the Mac, Dropbox, the automatically generated Scrivener backup and Time Machine.

What is not clear to me and so I can resume work immediately on the book, have I done the right thing so far:

  1. Find the book in backup.
  2. Unzip and save as my new working file (as an original).
  3. Save to the proper scriv-app-dropbox folder.
  4. Auto backups to the same backup folder.
  5. Time Machine backups.

Is there anything I have to do regarding the scrivener.scriv file which seems to be the main basket for all projects. In other words, that’s where the missing binderproj file seemed to be. I just don’t understand this error or how to fix.

Or do I just restore each project backup the same as I just did for the current book in progress? (Assuming dropbox restore does not work).

All of those steps look good to me.

That part isn’t clear to me. There is no container or basket format for all projects—every project is its own standalone “.scriv” and you can’t put projects inside of projects. So I’m not sure what that is.

The error itself is a bit of a blanket statement, so it’s hard to say all by itself. It’s in fact an indication that the internal bits are so confused it doesn’t look like a project and has fallen back to the old Scrivener 1 import code—.scrivproj isn’t even a thing any more.

If you right-click on the “scrivener.scriv” project in Finder and show package contents, does it look like a normal project in there? Maybe somehow the normal projects all go put inside this one folder somehow?

That would be the ordinary way of going about it, if Time Machine or Dropbox doesn’t offer an easier solution to bulk restoring them.

Scrivener.scriv shows an index of every single project I have created. But it is missing the required binderproj file so that it won’t open.

What is odd is that the dropbox folder with the proper scriv/app path was empty and this scrivener.scriv file was the only thing remainining. Something really went haywire to erase that specific folder from dropbox.

I have backups of everything, thanks to scrivener doing that correctly. It’s just odd that I am going to have to restore from backup, one by one, to the same dropbox folder where everything previously was located.

Like I say, there is no .binderproj file. That was an important file back in 2009, but ever since 2.0 was released, there has been no such thing in modern .scriv projects. As say that error message indicates the .scriv you are trying to load is so unlike a project it has fallen all the way back to 1.0-era import code and even that failed.

So, when you say it is an “index” of all your projects, could we conclude from this that all of your projects are inside of a folder called “Scrivener.scriv”—intact? I.e. if you drag all of the projects out of that package and into a normal folder, do they open and is everything there?

If so, then we know where they all went. I have no idea how they got inside of a folder called “Scrivener.scriv”, but since there is no such thing as an index of projects, that’s my best guess.

Right, and that thing that was remaining is a thing that isn’t something Scrivener uses. Hence that might actually be your sync folder.

Here is a simple illustration of what I’m talking about:

  1. In Finder, create a new folder on your desktop and call it “Test”.
  2. Save a copy of the Tutorial in Scrivener from the Help menu, close it, and then drag that into the “Test” folder.
  3. On the Desktop, rename the folder to “Test.scriv”.

Note how it looks like a project? Try opening it in Scrivener—you’ll get the message about there being no .scrivproj file. It’s not a project of course—you just made it yourself right now.

So apply that theory to your App/Scrivener folder. What if you changed the name of that folder with 20 projects in it to “Scrivener.scriv”. Suddenly from iOS’ perspective the sync folder has vanished, so it clears itself when you sync, and meanwhile on the Mac this mysterious index project throws errors when you try to open it because it’s not a project. It’s just a folder with projects in it, named incorrectly.

You may not even need backups if all of this holds true.

I will try that and report back. Thanks. What a relief.

Thank you, Amber. It worked, but it’s the oddest corruption or conflict I’ve experienced.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Right-clicked the scrivener.scriv file that was not created or named by me, but was stored in the dropbox/scrivener/app folder.
  2. Copy every single one of my projects into the dropbox/scrivener/app folder and out of this mystery scrivener.scriv file.
  3. Synched with IOS, which turned out to be 6,700 individual text files making up the 20-some scrivener projects.

Everything appears to be OK, with one exception:

Only one conflict out of the 6,700 items, the “recent.txt” file is shown as newly synched and another is shown as a conflicted version.

Does any of this make sense?

Bottom line is that overnight, individual projects all got collected into a mystery file and all projects disappeared from view when I simply synched by iPad.

Meanwhile, while all of this was being fixed in the background, I worked four hours today on my book and everything is functioning fine. Thank goodness for those auto backups provided by Scrivener.

I am glad that you were able to get your book back after that scare. After having lost a lot of files after a HD crash I learned the hard way that you can never have too many backups. I eventually moved from PC to Mac and that was a blessing because with Mac you have Time Machine. It backups everything every hour. And on Sundays I make 4 seprate backups as well as essential files on DropBox and synced to my wife’s computer. So I have multiple backups. I don’t know what is availablle on PC any more but with Time Machine for an incident like you just descibed it would have been simple to just log into TM and gone back to the latest backup and restored it. Total time would have been about 5 minutes. So you may want to look into whatever backup options are now available on Windows or consider moving to Mac. You would then get the double advantage of TM plus the Mac version of Scrivner. (-:

I am on a Mac and have Time Machine. It was more important for me to figure out what happened to avoid, if possible, the complete corruption or disappearance of everything related to the dropbox synch.

I agree with you on the backups. What saved me was where Scriv automatically backs up.

I have never had to rollback anything on Time Machine so I wasn’t even sure how to do that. But thanks for the tip.

If you are on Mac then you should update your profile which says you are on Windows platform. (-:

I stopped syncing it to DropBox because my wife kept complaining when every 2 minutes a notice would appear on her screen that Scrivener had backed up on my computer. (-:

Not only can you roll back a file or document, you can roll back an application that suddenly became buggy! It has saved me a lot of time and frustration. You don’t have to reinstall the application like you would on a PC you just roll back to a time when the app was behaving. You could just try doing a roll back as an experiment to see how it works; do it on a dummy file. As regards to Scrivener, I think you have the option of defining where the backups are stored. That way you know where they are at all times.

If you are on Mac then you should update your profile which says you are on Windows platform. (-:/quote]

Thanks, Orpheus. I was using a PC six years ago when I joined the forum, but a Macbook for the last couple.

Gave me a good reason to update my signature, avatar and everything.

Glad things worked out. But somewhere in this exchange it came to light that you had for the first time recently shared Dropbox access to at least one Scriv project (if not your whole Dropbox Scriv folder) with someone else. Off hand, that would be your odds-on candidate explanation for the mysterious moving of your files (and the packaging of them into a dangerously named folder).

It behooves you to see if the other party unwittingly messed things up, since you would either need to teach them better or rescind access to avoid similar troubles in the future.*


  • Personally, I would never give someone else access to the master copy of my important work. I would compile it or make a copy and put in a folder with separate access.

I gave rstricted access to one work file. The link would not have given them any means to delete. Oddest of all, all projects were moved from the proper synch folder to one mystery file called scrivener.scriv.

All is resolved with the quick help of Amber.

In the Dock you will see the Time Machine icon (in Mavericks, which I’m still using, it is a green disc with a silver surround and a white circular arrow in it). If you click that, you get an outer space backdrop with a grid showing the date and time of all your backups on the right. In the middle of the screen you will see the Finder window you were last looking at, stacked and receding back “in time”, each one representing an earlier backup.
When you have selected the backup you want, you just click the item in the window you want, and click the Restore button in the foreground. You will prompted whether you want to replace the current version, or restore it alongside the current. Then the backdrop disappears and you just navigate to where the file is in Finder.

Time Macine is reason enough to switch to Mac.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but another user just reported a similar problem. It was likewise easily resolved, but what could be the cause?

Scrivener App folder renamed to .scrivx?!