Using BAK files

I suffered a data loss, my entire external hard drive. I recovered some files, including Scrivener backup files in a Zip archive.

These are files. Inside the archive is a .scriv folder with my project name (large file) and what appears to be a blank .scriv file (0 KB) also with my project name. Inside the folder is a bunch of other files.

When I try to extract them, I get an error message that says it can not open output file. Attached is a screenshot.

I cannot seem to open or load these files with Scrivener. Are these valid, corrupted? Is there any way on Earth I can access my work?

Thank you!


I’m replying to my own post. In digging though the archives of these files, I found rtf files, which seem to contain my manuscript, thank goodness.

I lost a great deal related to my works-in-progress…photos, research…but losing the creative would have been devastating. It looks as though, fingers-crossed, I’ve found it.

I’d still like to know if I can use these BAK files in Scrivener. I’ll dive into the tutorials.

So even though I don’t have the answer to my post, I do have what I essentially need.


Have you tried expanding the entire archive into a folder somewhere? Scrivener projects are folders with a bunch of files in them, so by default the backup settings use Zip compression to turn it into one file and save space. So to restore the project from a backup Zip, you would need to extract the entire folder and all of its contents.

Once you have done so, you should have a “my project name.scriv” folder, with a “project.scrivx” file inside it (and some other folders). Double-click that project.scrivx file to load it.

Yup, exactly what I did. Actually, it is what I have in the archive. But something must be wrong somewhere.

I’d love to figure it out, but as I said, thank GOODNESS i have the text files of my work. I can always enter it again in to Scrivener.

BTW, I’m 63 years old and have been writing for 45 years, from typewriters to IBM Selectrics to today’s integrated digital apps and software.

If I had Scrivener back in 1970 ON PAPER, it would have expedited my writing. And now, with it available as a writing environment, I am thrilled beyond measure.

However, from now on, I’m backing up in many places, not just one. I thought that backing up to an external hard drive was foolproof…until the external failed.

Trust redundancy, trust the cloud, and (I hate to say it) trust printouts.


Going by the screenshot, it looks like you’re using 7zip for extracting the archives. That doesn’t play so well with the Scrivener zips, unfortunately, and is probably the reason for the 0kb file, so my first suggestion is to try using another tool–the default Windows extractor should serve you fine; you could also try WinZip or any other zip extractor you’ve already got installed.

Yeah, 7zip has some serious flaws. I’d ditch it. And just to be 100% clear, because I’ve seen a lot of people be confused by this, when you double-click on a .zip file in Windows, it often displays the contents of the archive, and lets you browse it’s files, even letting you open individual ones, but it doesn’t actually extract from the zip file. Scrivener can’t work through the intermediary of a zip archive; it has to have the files completely extracted from the zip so that you can browse them without a zip archive tool.

OMG, WinZip worked! Thank you so much for the tip. I thought 7Zip was the best. And Robert, I had no idea that is how Windows handled archives. Great info. Success! Thank you both for taking the time to help out. If you PM me your email addy, I’ll send you a free copy of my e-book.