Tag Archives: Restoring Lost Scrivener Projects

Toolbox 6: How I found my lost Scrivener files and 65k of work

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.

~~~oOo~~~

About a week ago I gave my laptop permission to do an update and restart but I forgot to close Scrivener first. I use Dropbox as a backup and link between my laptop and desktop. A few days later I went back to work on my WIP and it wouldn’t open. I was at about 65k and ice immediately ran through my veins.

It suggested I make a copy, because another app was using the file. The problem was the file was not open anywhere else and the project’s copy wouldn’t open either.

There was an HEA

I’m writing today to explain how I made it to a happy ending even though I made many mistakes along the way.

I started by going through the rest of my files in my Dropbox and tested them for issues. There were a couple but this time copying the files worked fine.

Alas not so for the story I was working on. All the files were there but it wouldn’t open. I could see them and there weren’t any obvious issues. But every time I tried to open it, Scrivener crashed, claiming there was no application for the executable file.

A little about my WIP–A scifi mystery that involved tons and tons of research. It was hours of my time I didn’t want to repeat.

Scrivener keeps it all straight so I don’t have to memorize it all.

As I rebuilt my WIP by going through all the rtf files and putting them all in the right places, it didn’t occur to me my research would be lost. The rebuild took about eight hours.

And I didn’t mind. At least my work was there. Then I went through the project: all of my settings were gone, all my links, and all my research. I couldn’t find it anywhere.

This left me very unhappy. You probably noticed my laziness sticking its nose out. So I walked away. I kept telling myself I had the work and to quit being a baby about the rest.

So after stewing, and some pouting, I decided to revive my original Scrivener project no matter what.

It took exactly one afternoon and a coincidence to bring about my happy ending.

Windows 10 and Calibre

Before I realized my research was gone, I was trying to add a plugin to Calibre and ran into some trouble with a zip file. Yes, Windows 10 does unzip most files for easy access. It works great if you are the user, but when an application tries to access them, it doesn’t always fly.

For the longest time I couldn’t figure it out. I fiddled with the zip folder for quite a while trying to install a new plugin and landed up having to unzip it manually to make it work.

Back to the Scrivener Project.

I had run out of ideas with Dropbox. But as I searched on the internet, a post made something very clear. Scrivener does their own backups.

So I went looking.

I found them all BUT apparently Scrivener didn’t have authorization to open any of them.

Wrong! Remember Calibre.

All backups were stored as zip folders and it needed someone—me—to unzip them first and then Scrivener had access.

Fool that I am I did this first on my desktop and not my laptop. I felt like one of my characters. Failure after failure. But when I went to my laptop, I knew exactly what to do.

I’m still smiling.

I did a comparison with the copy (that would not run from Dropbox) and added what was missing to my restored backup project. Once it looked like the original, I opened it. My research, links and settings were all there and waiting for me.

There is something to be said about being stubborn and I’m all that.

So here’s a quick suggestion for the Scrivener User that also uses Dropbox.

  1. In Scrivener, go to Tools–>Options and then find the Backup tab. Check and make sure “Turn on automatic backups” is ticked.
  2. At the bottom of the Option (backup) Window choose a good place to save your backups. As in, a place you can find them easily. (You may want to create a shortcut)
  3. Carry on and hope nothing goes wrong and know if it does you know exactly where your WIPs are waiting.
  4. Depending on your memory, make a readme file with the directions about unzipping the file you’ll need, and you’re set.

Has this put me off Dropbox or Scrivener? N0pe. I love both of them. It was my fault. I should have closed all my apps down before the windows restart.

In case you don’t know:

Scrivener is an application that supports outlining, tracking research, structuring and restructuring of long documents—novels, novellas, etc. Its purpose enables a writer to go from idea to first draft as painlessly as possible. My plots tend to be intricate and this app allows me to rearrange my work for the best narrative.

Dropbox is an online cloud where data, written work, can be saved and accessed by more than one computer. It allows for collaboration as well as ease of access. For me, I can write from anywhere and save my work in one place.

Calibre is an application that maintains an elibrary. All soft copies of your books, collected or written, can be saved, organized, and backed-up in one database. I use mine to read my work on my ereader.

Here’s something else you may like.

Scrivener NaNo’17 Trial is’s available now. You can buy it for 50% off if you win NaNo or 20% off if you participate in NaNo. So if you’ve always wanted to try it but found it too expensive here’s your chance to try before you buy.

There is also a Facebook Support Group for Scrivener if you have any trouble. They are quick with answers and support.

And for someone who prefers freeware, try yWrite6.

I’ve tried both until I bought Scrivener after NaNo2015. There’s a learning curve, but it is worthwhile.

You got any freeware or trial apps I might like. Leave a link and why you like it in the comments.

Advertisements