Why I don't trust Dropbox and what the Scrivener developer can do about it.

Let me start off by saying I have Little Snitch installed on my system. When I look at where dropbox is trying to send my files (and info) off to, It really worries me. Dropbox has 31+ different connections out going from my Mac at any one time. I’m not going to list them here, unless anyone asks for them, but I think that is just crazy!! Why does dropbox need to send my files to Thailand? Really?

What I would love form Scrivener: To start an new project or even just work on a current one on my iPhone or iPad when I’m away from my Mac, and be able to pick up where I left off when I get home, all with iCloud sync.

As for what I think the developer of Scrivener can do about it? Start a donation page or maybe even a Kickstarter project and start collecting money to hire a another developer/s to help add iCloud sync if you do not want to do it yourself. I know it can be done, it may take lots of work, but with the new iCloud file system, it can be done. With the amount of people I’ve seen on this form and others complaining about not having iCloud sync, I’m pretty sure you could raise enough money help solve this problem.

Please stop telling us to use dropbox and look to your community to help solve this problem. Maybe some of use with programming experience could even chip in on the project?

We don’t need a Kickstarter fund raiser. Money is not the issue. Finding the necessary expertise is. There are very, very few programmers out there available for hire who could do this. Even Apple engineers do not have an ideal solution - I have discussed the issues with them at length. The iCloud APIs are very different from the Dropbox APIs. There is no simple solution short of rewriting Scrivener to conform with the concepts around which iCloud is built, which would mean removing many of Scrivener’s core features, such as the ability to import research files.

If you know it can be done, does this mean that you are familiar with Scrivener’s file format and the issues involved in syncing a live project containing multiple files across multiple computers, and also have the necessary iCloud expertise? If so, I’d love to hear more.

You don’t say where you are, so it’s hard to say whether Thailand is a reasonable location for the “best” available data center. You also don’t say whether you’re using some form of anonymizing connection. If your reported IP address is different from your actual location, it’s not Dropbox’s fault if it chooses a “wrong” data center for your files.

It’s entirely normal for any service like Dropbox to have multiple connections. If there are five files to sync, opening five connections will be faster than sending all five of them sequentially over a single connection.

Have you asked Dropbox support about the information Little Snitch is reporting?


I don’t understand the extreme difficulty or impossibility of using ICloud to synchronize between macs. Isn’t ICloud just like a hard drive on the cloud that files get written to? And isn’t all the data associated with a particular project written into those digital files? I see users putting these files on a USB thumb drive and successfully moving the status quo project to another machine with this “sneaker net?” Just where is the problem and mystery here? I don’t think Scrivener writes particular-machine-dependent code into the backup files for a particular project? (I hope not!) In plain English, just where is the mystery and problem exactly? I think its fair to say that all the activities of any particular version of any software program are inherently portable and reduced into 1’s and 0’s. The only exception I know is when a software program deliberately wants to circumvent this general rule: It reads the serial number of a hard disk and is deliberately machine-bound, or it requires a password (or biometric) that another user does not have, eg, cell-phones and PC’s. Neither of these situations exist here, since we have one user and no machine-bound code. The “Turing test” for this, if you will, is whether a program can be shut down and then re-start from a set of files that can be put on a USB drive, for example.
If this is not true, you have to admit that machine-dependent code is in Scrivener, so that a project on a particular version of Scrivener is not portable.
Which is it?
Your comments about the difficulty of developing for ICloud are taken as germane to this issue of course. That’s another issue than fundamental portabillty, and its a legitimate one. There are several results from this belief. First, ICloud cannot for some reason act as a “hard drive on the cloud.” That is, you cannot easily specify a passive memory location which just gets copied over by ICloud as a set of files which describe a project on Scrivener. If that is true, then Apple screwed up big time, which they do occasionally.All right, if that is so, then the files can still be transferred to another machine using a thumb drive.
I like the USB drive approach, since its a common sense low tech work around. If that’s not doable, it’s like saying, "You have an automobile now, and bicycles will no longer work. They have ceased to function on March !, 1930. "
A Scrivener fan

FYI, it isn’t impossible to use iCloud to sync between Macs. I use iCloud to sync between three Macs, without issue,

This post has some good info…

literatureandlatte.com/foru … 05#p244405

To answer one question, it is perfectly possible to save a Scrivener project to a USB drive, and then from that drive open the project on another machine that also has Scrivener installed. I’m not really following how that is relevant to cloud syncing issue, because syncing files between devices and transferring files are two completely different things. Also, using most cloud services to transfer your projects is perfectly feasible, as long as you zip the project before moving it to the cloud, You then download that zipped project on the other machine and start working. Syncing is an entirely different thing.

There’s also a fundamental difference between iCloud and iCloud Drive, which may be causing some confusion here. You might find this earlier explanation by Scrivener’s developer, KB, to be helpful: literatureandlatte.com/forum … 96#p239396

To clarify, the OP was asking about alternatives to Dropbox for syncing with iOS Scrivener. Because of the limitations of iOS, writing files to and from a device is a much more complex endeavor than it is on a Mac (or PC).

For syncing between Macs, sure, you can use iCloud, a USB device, or a variety of other methods. Please do read this article, though, on best practices to reduce the risk of synchronization errors. scrivener.tenderapp.com/help/kb … c-services


A Scrivener project is not in any way tied to a specific machine or a specific Scrivener license key. The project format is also completely human-readable, so you can easily confirm this for yourself if you like.


If you search Apple’s user support forums you easily find lots of threads about how iCloud doesn’t always work as expected. My three Macs all stopped uploading to iCloud after the OS upgrade in april. It works fine for my iDevices but iCloud Drive doesn’t work any more, in spite of testing all sorts of things suggested by Apple. So no, iCloud and iCloud Drive isn’t like ”a hard drive".
So far I haven’t had a single glitch in the use of Dropbox during the 8-9 years I’ve used it for various things.

It’s voluntary to use Scrivener, like it is with any software, but if you choose to do so you have to accept its limitations.

Seems to work OK. Yes, Apple says that ICloud does function as a Hard drive on the cloud. I can synchronize multiple Pages programs running the same document. If something is added or changed in any of the machines, it is reflected in them all. This is synchronization as opposed to file sharing.
I don’t know how Apple does it, but Ias a guess they must be periodically saving and checking the time stamps to refresh, etc.Apple brags that groups can work on one document this way, but I just want to take my Mac Air to the library and synch up later on an Imac as a one-shot activity.
SO I’m saving the scrivener files to the ICloud drive (as Apple terms it), and able to transfer a project in Scrivener.
Why not drop box? Ths is just preference, but I’d rather stay within the MacOS. It’s less complicated to use ICloud. And who knows what changes could be made to a third party program overnight? I realize these concerns are hypothetical, but it seems to me using drop box is a cop out, technically. A seamless product is more attractive, IMO.

The number one issue with iCloud is that it does not clearly and unambiguously indicate when synchronization has finished. This is a crucial bit of information, as incomplete synchronization can lead to all sorts of unpleasantness, up to and including data loss.

Please read this article, on best practices to avoid synchronization errors:
scrivener.tenderapp.com/help/kb … c-services


Thank you Katherine.
To be clear, I was not suggesting or describing “synchronization.” An oddity of the write-up you directed me to is that it purports to discuss synchronization, but then cautions, “never, ever have two programs open at the same time on two machines.” (from memory)
So what we are talking about is not synchronization, but file transfer. I am assuming Scrivener is not set up to do synchronization, as the write up suggests. What I am talking about is moving the project back and forth between my home computer and a “lap top” in the library. Simple.
Now this had better be 100% safe, or as close to it as is possible in every day life, barring getting run over in the parking lot, etc. 100%. And the two Scriveners must be clones, ideally from the same download.
I have a solid state drive chip on the lap top (128 gb cost about 35 US), so its easy to do a back up onto this drive before leaving the library. And even a verbatim file backup onto a usb thumb drive as well.
How is this not 100% safe?
Oh, and the “fike transfer” scenario assumes only one application is open at a time. Safer that way.
(It better be, or I’m “Going Gutenberg,” paper and pen.)
On the positive side, Scrivener seems a great program, and why not have it as the “Rock of Ages” among word processors? Are there instabilities in Scrivener? Unexpected crashes that capsize a days work? Even if that is happening, programmatic fixes like saving multiple time versions can help.

Scrivener is not handling synchronization, but the Dropbox app is. It makes sure that all files in your Scrivener project is synchronized with the version on the Dropbox server, and it does it in the background. You can’t edit the project simultaneously on two computers as this could potentially result in simultaneous editing of the same file inside the project from two computers which would potentially destroy the file. But if this is avoided, you can work on the same project sequentially, and will never have to remember which version it is or anything similar.

Moving Scrivener projects is a question of folder transfer, from one location to another. The big difference, from a user perspective, is that if you move the whole project to another place (removable media, cloud drive, whatever), open and edit it on another computer, and then move the edited project back to the original location, you either have to overwrite the original version or save the edited version as a new copy. Both scenarios open up a number of possible problems that may arise (like you getting confused about which version is the latest?).

Synchronization, as I am using the term, is an automated series of file transfers with the goal of maintaining identical copies of a Scrivener project across multiple computers/devices.

(Keep in mind that a Scrivener project is actually a folder, composed of potentially hundreds of individual files.)

If you make changes to a project on Computer A, and Dropbox uploads the changes to their server, then downloads the changes to Computer B, so that you can open the project on Computer B and start work where you left off, that’s synchronization.

If you make changes to a project on Computer A, then close your laptop and walk away from your WiFi connection before the changes have uploaded, then open up the project on Computer B and make more changes, you have created a synchronization conflict. There are now two different versions of the project. Depending on how the conflict is resolved, one set of changes may be discarded. This scenario is the single most common cause of data loss with any Dropbox-like service,

Which is why ability to determine whether the service has finished uploading/downloading changes is so critical, and why iCloud’s lack of a clear indicator to that effect is problematic.


The iCloud status icons aren’t clear/reliable? Personally, I have never experienced a problem with them. Advice very welcome.

support.apple.com/kb/PH25363?lo … cale=en_US

iCloud Documents and Desktop is a whole other issue. I consider it very risky for any data that you care about.
derflounder.wordpress.com/2016/ … -the-ugly/


Similar indicators are available for all documents stored in iCloud Drive, even with iCloud Documents and Desktop turned off. The indicators seem to be reliable. I’ve used iCloud Drive for over a year to store and share all my Scrivener projects. No problems, so far.

Where are they? On a per-file basis in Finder, or an overall indicator in the menu bar? If it’s only a per-file indicator, I would consider it insufficient because that would mean you have to personally keep track of everything that you might have changed.


First, “iCloud Desktop and Documents” (iDD) is a terrible way to sync Scrivener projects with another computer*; it only downloads new files (generated on another computer) on demand, as you try to open them in a Finder window, or through the standard file opening methods that most other software uses. Scrivener doesn’t ask the OS for all 1,230 files in my project ever time I open that project; it just loads a handful of them from the hard drive to get up-and-running, trusting that all the rest are there for immediate opening as needed. If you have moved to another computer that’s syncing using “iDD”, that means when you click on a document in the binder, that document may not have any of the latest changes to that individual file synced to your computer; you’ll either open an old one, or that file (being new since you were last at that computer) won’t be there at all. That spells disaster as Scrivener is expecting your project to be there before it tries to open it, and there’s no way for Scrivener to ask the OS to refresh it before Scrivener tries to open it.

So long as you’re at one computer, and iDnD might not be an issue so long as it doesn’t try to delete local copies of files that haven’t been accessed in a while; since Scrivener projects consist of hundreds, maybe even thousands of files internally, that means the contents of those files might seem to vanish from Scrivener’s perspective. But I don’t trust that feature to treat my Scrivener projects properly, especially as I move from my MB Air to my Mac Mini.

As for iCloud Drive, try an experiment using a Scrivener project. Modify the contents of a document in a scrivener project that’s being synced with iCloud drive, but don’t have the Finder open and/or visible on the folder containing your project. This is common for people who just use the File->Recent projects menu, or let Scrivener open the last project(s) that were open when you quit the application.

Without the Finder window open to that project, how do you tell if it’s synced? Also, even if it is visible, does a change to a the text in a single document result in an icon next to the project? Internally, the text you write is stored in files that are within their own folder, and that’s inside another folder, which in turn is inside another folder. Does iCloud show sync icons for files that are several folders deep? Also, how quickly does a change trigger a sync? What happens if you change a big file that is already syncing?

In short: it’s always more complicated than you might think. As a long-time denizen of these forums, I can assure you that the developer (“KB” aka Kieth) has done the research, contacted Apple directly, and has done everything he can to ensure the integrity of your projects. When you see a caution against a given service, it’s not due to some arbitrary decision on his part.

[size=85]* I don’t pay attention to recent developments in this stuff, because I barely use iCloud Drive, and refuse to turn on iCloud Desktop and Documents because I want all my files on my hard drive at all times, even if I’m short of drive space. So this issue may have been resolved since I became aware of it.[/size]

In Finder.

Can sort by iCloud status, so it is very easy to see if anything is waiting to upload or download. If, for a transient interest only, you leave finder open while working in Scrivener, you can see the constant saves being made and uploaded.

iCloud Icons.jpg