Working on two computers

Hi everyone, a newbie here…

I’ve been trying Scrivener out for about 3 weeks and I’m almost convinced. I love working with it but I like to work on a laptop (Win XP) away from ‘office’ and on a PC (Win 7) in the ‘office’. I have terrible issues restoring backups from one machine or the other through a memory stick, sometimes the folder is empty, other times some files fail. I don’t want a solution to the zip situation (too much hassle) so I have successfully and simply solved the situation by copying the project folder to my thumbstick and then copied it on to laptop or pc over the top of the previous project. This works a treat, are there any downsides? If anything goes wrong, the backup is always there (one hopes).

Your comments will be much appreciated.

The only thing I would caution against is copying the project folder directly onto another project folder. In Windows, that doesn’t replace the folder, it merges the two folders together. It could result in a number of problems down the road. Always rename or remove the older copy before bringing a fresh one down. When I’m constantly switching machines, I like to keep a stack of recent versions on both computers anyway. I’ve found it’s just too easy to get things mixed up and sometimes copy the wrong version, reverting edits I’ve made in the past. If I keep a stack of recent versions of the project then I can go back and find where I made those edits and tidy up the current project with them. So for that reason I find the File/Back Up/Back Up To... command’s automatic datestamp and zip archival feature to be less cumbersome than trying to handle all of this by hand, but YMMV.

Thank you very much for that sound advice AmberV, I will take it on board the next time I switch computers and from now on. I have started putting a note in my text just before I switch as a flag to say which computer this folder has just come from and date and time. Not foolproof, of course but together with the auto backups I hope it will keep me well organised.

Once again, thanks for your time and knowledge.


I have two desktops at home, a laptop, and my desktop at work. All have Scrivener installed on them and regardless of what machine I’m sitting at, when I open Scrivener, it takes me to exactly where I left off, regardless of what machine I was at previously.

I accomplish this ridiculously convenient miracle through the use of Dropbox. I have my project saved to a single folder on my Dropbox (which is always running on all computers I use) and so when I open it, regardless of where I open it, I’m always using the exact same project file and work-in-progress.

The mandatory requirement for doing this is to simply remember to exit/backup whenever you leave one machine, like going home from work at the end of the day or stopping for the night at home. That assures the project closes and backs up properly, ready for you whenever/wherever you need it.

I back up my entire Dropbox folder regularly (I should do daily, but I don’t) into my Googledrive on the cloud and to a desktop folder on my main computer at home. Triple redundancy.

Scott, thanks so much for this useful suggestion. To be sure I understand it all, could you elaborate on what you mean by “exit/backup” below? I have found that when I save anything to a folder or subfolder in my PC’s Dropbox, it appears to do an almost immediate synch with my folder on Is the backup you mention the one in Scrivener, or are you simply saving your .scriv folders to Dropbox on the local machine?

Thank you ,Scott, for the advice. I will trial Dropbox when I start my next new project.


I think I know what he’s referring to. First, you must close all of your projects that are located in a Dropbox folder, and let the final few file changes upload to the Dropbox servers before you can go to another computer and open those projects. These final few files include a “lock file” which tells Scrivener that the project is open, which helps dropbox users avoid editing the same project on different computers simultaneously.

In addition to Scrivener doing a final cleanup of it’s temporary files when it quits, it will also, by default, make a backup copy of your entire project in its designated backup folder (see Tools->Options->Backup for where that is, or to change the settings). By exiting Scrivener, you accomplish all of this file cleanup & backup creation. By letting Dropbox sync up afterwards, before you sleep or shut off the computer you’re currently at, you give it time to upload the file cleanups so that your other computers will download those last couple of crucial file changes when they are turned on/woken up.

Thanks very much, Robert!