When does a backup save as a new number?

I really have trouble understanding basic file saving and folders in computers. In this case I have played with older backups of projects to see what they will do if I alter them. Most of the time the back up number doesn’t change when I close the old file after making a change. Other times it seems to become a new number all of a sudden. I don’t understand when and why it sometimes becomes the newest version and other times it doesn’t.

Also, when does the computer decide to assign a new back up number when I am working with the latest backup and why does it do this?


I’m not quite sure I follow your problem description.

Under normal circumstances, your backups will rotate through however many numbers you allow. That is, if you are saving the last five backups, you’ll get five numbers, and so on. (This option is set in Scrivener -> Preferences -> Backups)

However, if you open one of the backup files two things will happen. First, Scrivener will treat the backup just like any other project, and will automatically make a backup of it. So, you might end up with
ProjectAorig (the original)
ProjectAorig.bak1 (the backup)
ProjectAorig.bak1.bak1 (the backup of the backup)

and so on. The names will become even more complex if you have the option set to date stamp any of the files along the chain.

The second thing that happens is that, if you open a file while in the backup folder, Scrivener will create new numbers, overriding whatever save limit you have set. This behavior helps keep Scrivener’s automatic backups from wiping out files that you might want.

If you open backup files often, things can get very confusing.

Here’s what I would recommend:

  • Keep your backup files and your live data in separate folders.

  • If you want to make changes to a backup, drag it out to your live data folder first, and give it a unique name so that you can identify it and its backups.

  • Don’t believe the numbers. If you need to identify your oldest or newest backup, look at the save date, not the number.


Thanks Katherine!,
I am still confused, but that definitely helps. I didn’t even know there were separate places for live data and backups. Ugh!!!

Your advice not to play with the backups seems to be logical since it is hard to play with them and not make a mess.

I am doing a project where I have tried multiple titles and multiple versions with in each title as the layout has changed. To try and go back and look at old versions of each with out making a mess is difficult. It feels like scrivener falls short in this regard, and for what it costs this bothers me. Maybe it’s just me and I don’t understand the process well enough, but it feels like it should be easier and more organized.

If think of any other helpful information then please let me know!

For looking at multiple versions, I would suggest you check out Scrivener’s Snapshot tool, discussed in Section 15.6 of the manual. You can also use the Documents -> Duplicate command to create multiple versions within a project.

It’s hard to offer useful suggestions without a better idea what you’re trying to accomplish. Scrivener has lots of different tools for looking at different versions, but I would give different advice to a novelist experimenting with different structures than I would to a technical writer trying to produce a new edition of a manual.