Scrivener Tips Pt. 4: Project Backups

I recently received a Twitter comment from someone regarding Scrivener and help with backups using Windows. I’m not entirely sure what the issue was but I’ll go ahead and address the subject today. Here are the basics with project backups for Scrivener:

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  1. Keep Scrivener up to date to minimize any issues with the software. To do this click on Help and then on Update Scrivener.

Scriv Proj Backup 01


  1. To manage where you backup your projects click on Tools and Choose Options:

Scriv Proj Backup 02


  1. Once the Options window opens click on Backup at the end of the menu on the left:

Scriv Proj Backup 03

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  1. Once you have the backup settings displayed you can click on the Choose button to change the default location of project backups. If you are not changing it but just want to know where the backups are location it is listed there also and you can click on the Open Backup Folder to view backups immediately.

Scriv Proj Backup 04


  1. You can also handle an individual backup from the project you have open. Click on File and hover your cursor at Backup to see the fly-out menu. Here you can choose to backup the current project to a specific location. You can force an immediate backup instead of when you close the project. You can also choose to exclude the project from automatic backups.


Scriv Proj Backup 05

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Options for Backup Locations

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Here are a few thoughts about where to backup your Scrivener projects.

1. On your computer – you can choose to back them up on your computer. However, unless you are backup up the Scrivener backup folder using something else – software or external drive/cloud then you run the risk of losing data should your computer fail in some way.

2. On an external drive – you can backup directly to an external drive but this requires that you have the drive connected whenever you close Scrivener for automatic backups on close or when you manually backup your projects.

3. On the cloud – I have many of my projects located in my Dropbox folder so it is automatically synchronized on the cloud while my automatic backup runs to my computer. I also backup my Dropbox folder to and external drive.

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Project Recovery

To recover a project do the following:

1. Open your backup folder where you will notice that all the project backups are in .zip folders

2. Open the .zip folder for the project and date to which you want to recover.

3. You will see the .scriv folder for the project. Copy the folder to the appropriate work location or a restore folder of your choosing (WARNING: If you overwrite a current folder with a backup folder you may lose changes since the last backup). From any location you should be able to open the project by double clicking on the .scriv folder or using Scrivener to browse to and open the project folder.

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For more details on Scrivener backups check the manual by clicking on Help and then Scrivener Manual – the subject is at Appendix B – Options, page 322, B9 – Backup.

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P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. The Bow of Destiny is his first novel-length title with more soon to come.

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  1. Nice explanation! But don’t forget about Snapshots. I make one every few days or right before a major overhaul. Sometimes you want to recover something that you thought was horrible and thus deleted, but upon reflection wish you had back! I think you can find deleted text through the backups too, but it’s more difficult, and the backups are limited to the last 25 times (that number can be configured). (Btw I backup to a local directory which I sync to both a USB drive & an online server once a day, i.e. 2 layers of backups.)

    1. Thanks for visiting today and sharing your backup procedures as well as alternatives and caveats. I’ll probably re-visit this topic with a few more of these angles in a few weeks. You have a good backup strategy – kudos!

      1. Thanks for the tip! Wish I had read this earlier. I thought I had my files backed up correctly on an external hard drive, but after having to reinstall the OS on my desktop recently I learned differently. I had to reinstall Scrivener and while many of the files were on the external, they had to be imported and I lost all of the file titles, so it’s going to be a mess figuring out what goes where and setting my binder back up. I had downloaded a couple of templates and customized them to fit my needs, so I plan to download them again and go back through the process. Then I plan to not only backup to my external, but also to the cloud and a USD. You live and you learn.

  2. I’ve been bad and only saving to the computer hard drive until very recently learning to save it to Dropbox. And since I have to do a operating system update very soon for my Windows computer once Windows 10 is officially released, I’m going to be backing up to an external hard drive as well, in case cloud storage availability is disrupted. Thanks for these tips!

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