Working from the Cloud/NAS with Scrivener is creating many conflict files

(I only have Scrivener open on ONE system at a time, and currently the same one every time for NaNo)

I write on PC (Windows 10) with Scrivener and, as an experiment, I set up an ‘available offline’ folder to store my Nano 2019 scrivener project so I could get constant backups while I write, as opposed to copying it to the NAS afterwards as with my other projects.

This has caused Scrivener to create a LOT of conflict files!

Fortunately, I am only writing and adding, not editing, so usually the latest saved file is okay and I don’t need to resolve them, BUT this means I’ve had to stop using this backup method and go back to my old way of doing it. I can’t risk losing edits later.

I suspect the problem is that that WD Discovery Desktop software/app which performs the backup is seeing changes and locking/copying the file at the same time Scrivener tries to write it.

If anyone uses a similar setup and has managed to make it work, by changing settings etc., please tell me how.

Alternatively, if anyone has an offline->Cloud backup system (with Onedrive, Dropbox, etc.) that actually works for edits without conflicts, I’d like to hear what you’re using, please.

Happy writing!

First, I would like to clarify the difference between backup and sync. Using a cloud service like Dropbox, iCloud, or OneDrive is not cloud backup – they are cloud sync. The difference is that a sync will faithfully update every change you make to the source files (and replicate those changes between computers if you have multiple devices syncing to the same account). Some services like Dropbox may give you the ability to do versioning, but given a Scrivener project can be hundreds or even thousands of files (only some of which are being edited and changed at any given time), that’s not particularly helpful for you.

There are cloud backup services, that make a point-in-time copy of a specified set of folders/files, and then this copy is no longer modified. This is a true backup. The built-in backup utility in Windows uses this same basic strategy to copy to an external drive, but (if I remember correctly) uses an incremental or differential strategy to only copy the files that have changed since the last main backup, which makes the backups take a lot less time.

With Scrivener, it is constantly saving the files you have recently edited (by default it will save pending writes to disk when you have just 2 seconds of inactivity – that is, not typing for two seconds will flush pending edits to disk). Combine this with backup software and sync software and this can lead you to problems. However, Scrivener also possesses the ability to create backups of your project itself.

What I and many others do is use a combination of online services for syncing and backup:

  1. I use Dropbox to sync my active Scrivener projects. This allows me to seamlessly share them between Mac, Windows, and iOS. I use the default /Apps/Scrivener folder within the designated Dropbox folder and have the Dropbox client set up on each machine. This is where I open my projects from and save my working copies. I exclude this Scrivener folder from any cloud backups/external disk backups I am using, as I do not want writes to this folder from anything except Scrivener.

  2. I use OneDrive to sync my inactive Scrivener projects, again making them available between platforms. Within my OneDrive folder, I have a WritingArchive folder, and each inactive Scrivener project gets moved under this folder. (And if I need to work on one of them, I move it back to the Dropbox/Apps/Scrivener folder and let it sync up.) I let my Windows and Mac backup programs backup this folder as Scrivener never writes actively to it.

  3. I also use OneDrive to sync my Scrivener backups. I have Scrivener configured to backup projects to OneDrive/WritingBackups, using the date/time stamp in the filename, not limit the number of backups (the default is 5), and producing a .zip archive file. This way there is a single file for each point in time backup, each project is backed up to a single place, and I can easily distinguish the latest version of each project. The sync is very quick because each backup only causes a single .ZIP file to be written, and those files are never written to again in the normal course of things. If I need to look at a backup copy, I COPY and unzip the file to a temporary location on my hard drive and remove it when I’m done. I let my Windows and Mac backup programs backup this folder, as Scrivener is not writing actively to it except when creating a new backup (either when I manually force it or on project close).

I also close Scrivener – or at least the project – when I am going to walk away from a project for more than 5 minutes. This keeps me from having open files on one system, and forces the creation of a backup file.

This way, I stay within the recommended technology configuration for multi-platform sync, I make use of my extra OneDrive space (1TB) to store my archives and essentially unlimited backups, and I can have a local external disk or cloud backup service providing an extra layer of security.

Thank you for you detailed reply. It seems I am getting terminology wrong - yes, I am talking about Sync rather than Backup, in the main, so I get an ‘off site’ copy of my work up to the minute (or so).

Maybe I need to access the NAS directly instead of using the synced (‘available offline’) folder on the desktop? I suspect that is where my error lies.

I can access the NAS directly with Scrivener as drive Z: on any system I own through the WD Discovery App. I could try a solution along those lines and see what happens. It’s all down to the wizardry in the apps, I think. If I can’t get it to work, I’ll try Dropbox instead and then the NAS becomes a lump of useless metal, but we learn by our mistakes.

I have read your reply twice, carefully, and am going back to read it again in case there’s something in there I’m not grasping correctly but I think I have understood it.

(I also do Backups to OneDrive of work I am not currently modifying, so that too is an off-site copy.)

You might find this helpful: … c-services

It’s our article on best practices for avoiding synchronization conflicts. It’s written from the point of view of commercial services like Dropbox, but should mostly be applicable to your situation.

If Scrivener can access the NAS directly, that’s probably the closest equivalent to a Dropbox-like service. Scrivener sees just another location in the file system, and the wizardry to make it network-accessible all happens at a fairly low level.


Thank you, Katherine - I shall read that carefully.

Mounting the NAS as a separate drive on the system should avoid the issues you’d see with a sync engine, because under that circumstance the NAS is your “local” drive – it’s just using the network as I/O instead of the internal SATA/SAS controller, using the SMB family of protocols. For a Mac, it would be like having an NFS-mounted drive. The key point is that by mounting the drive, there is no syncing going on – you don’t have two copies of the data to try to keep in sync, you simply have a copy that resides on the physical disks accessed over the network.

Hi Connor, I use a Synology NAS for backing up files on the family’s network (including our multiple dropbox folder), The backup uses the Synology App and I haven’t had any problems, I have also used the Synology shared drive although not for Scrivener but had to give up on that when Microsoft’s File Explorer started to ‘lose’ certain file types in the ‘shared’ drive (eg pdfs). I now use Dropbox to ensure files are still available for my multiple computers.

I agree with Devin’s suggestion about mounting the NAS as a separate drive. I actually have three drives set up, one for the ‘homes’ top access, one linked to the mp3 subdirectory, and the third linked to the Synology photos directory.

Good luck with NaNoWrMo.