Well, it finally happened

I’ve had only one system crash in the past where I actually lost some progress on the current file that I was writing. In that case it was something fairly short and I was able to recover from a previous, recent backup.

However, this was the first time an entire ‘chapter’, (text file inside a folder), was completely erased and all the changes I’d been working on to that point were gone. I searched the data folder for recent changes, and even that temp folder for that chapter was gone. Only the notes file and scratch text file were there.

I was able to recover from a ‘recent’ backup, but since it was prior to the heavy revisions I’d made over the morning, it was still gutting to have to scratch in my scribblings from memory. I now know, in some small measure, how T.E. Lawrence felt when he lost his manuscript for Seven Pillars of Wisdom on a Train platform and had to start all over.

In any case, after scrolling through other threads, I’ve since enabled auto back up on manual save. I guess I’ll have to wait a bit longer, but it’ll be worth it if I don’t have to reconstruct so much from my already faltering memory.

With all that being said, have I overlooked any other location or file that might have stored the temporary changes prior to the system crash? Just thought I’d put it out there. In the desperate hope that I can find such a thing. In the very least, to add my voice and recent experience as a warning to others.


Did the crash happen while the project was open? If so, make sure you don’t have any recovered files at the bottom of the binder. If Scrivener detects a crash and is able to recover anything, it’ll populate files there.

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Ordinarily, as you work throughout the day the stuff you do will be saved into the internal files that store the text. If you delete a line, a few seconds later it will be deleted from the file. Paste in a paragraph, a few seconds later it saves the paragraph. Ordinarily in the event of a crash, you will maybe lose a sentence or two, if that. Some fast typists might lose more, and those who have messed with the auto-save interval settings in the General: Saving settings tab can also create conditions where they lose more (hint: generally don’t mess with that unless you have a really good reason to).

That said, bad things can happen much more rarely (these days, very rarely) where the system goes down in a more catastrophic fashion than your typical crash, and when this happens there is a very small chance that it can cause files that are currently open and being edited to get corrupted. It’s a very old problem—one that more modern systems have ways of working around in some cases, but with Windows it still sticks with some very ancient ways of doing things that can cause stuff like this to happen. There isn’t much software can do about that (we’re talking technology well below anything programs like Scrivener operate at, like the difference between a problem with your kitchen sink and a problem at the water treatment facility several kilometers away, not much you can do about the latter while bent under the sink with a wrench).

But, given how things progress up to that point, any system you use that backs up your working data throughout the day should have a record of the project in a state where it had some of your progress saved. The file was being saved during the day, ideally and normally, so if anything copies the state of your disk during that period of time, you can revert back to the point before the system zapped your file, open that copy of the project, and restore the text back into the otherwise up to date copy of the project.

If you are not using anything that incrementally and periodically updates your work at least once or twice a day—well now you know why people set themselves up with systems like that! Most who do have been in your position at least once (or worse), and that’s how they got to researching various different layers of backup protection.

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Sorry to hear about your crash and lost data. :frowning_face:

Sounds like you’ve already started improving your working process to keep this from happening again. Have a look at this post with backup advice I wrote a while back. It’s for v1 Scrivener, so some menu options may have changed, but the principles remain the same.

Was your Scrivener project stored on a cloud syncing service (OneDrive, DropBox, etc.)? If so, depending on the service, there might have been versioning running, and it would be worth your while to go to their website to check whether any of your text was saved as a version. This is a long shot, but thought it worth mentioning.


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Yes. I was typing as the crash happened. In the chapter that went poof! I looked at the bottom, but the only recovery file I found was from about a month ago and it was only a couple of lines of text totally unrelated to what I’d been working on.

Thanks for the response. I save it locally, but all my backups are stored to my One Drive folder and stored on the cloud. I’ve since increased the number of incremental backups I store there. I might need to buy additional space though.

So you do use OneDrive. But –

Everything on your PC is saved locally, so I don’t understand what you mean by locally here.

Is your Scrivener project folder saved in a OneDrive path? For example, something like C:\Users\YourUserProfile\OneDrive\Documents\Writing\Scrivener Projects.

If so, it’s probably worth your while to look for a recent version of your damaged text file. Navigate via your browser to your Scrivener project files on OneDrive.com. Poke around carefully in the most recently modified Content.rtf files, looking in Version History for a version of your damaged file just prior to the crash.

If you do find something useful, then I suggest downloading & saving the .rtf in a temporary folder, and then copy/pasting the text back into your Scrivener project. Or you could try importing the .rtf–I haven’t done that.


Yeah, that’s what I tried initially. But I think by the time I searched around through the folder you outlined above (or at least my specific directory structure) the content.rtf only had items from my scratch pad document that I have open in parallel with the chapter and the notes.rtf document associated with the folder (or chapter itself). Maybe when I poked around, I wasn’t careful enough, being in a bit of a panic.