Scrivener, ready to roll!

Last night was exhausting. I spent several hours playing with first Dropbox, then Scrivener. I think I’ve got it!

The process is only really complicated if I switch from my PC to my netbook and back again. This will happen if I get a spare few hours on weekends to write in a coffee shop or the uni library. Not really an issue at the moment.

Here is the process I have worked out for saving on Scrivener:


  • Open the project on my PC, the project file is saved in My Documents on the actual computer.
  • Work with document. It will autosave every 2 seconds (while active) to the My Docs file.
  • When finished for the day, close Scrivener. The file will autosave, and will ALSO save a back up to the Dropbox file.
  • Open the Dropbox and be sure that it is fully synced (based on the file symbols) before stepping away from the computer. This is important because if the computer gets switched off or goes to sleep before it is synced it may stuff things up if I try to open on the netbook.
  • Close the Dropbox and sleep or shutdown the computer.

Opening in a different device

  • ONLY open in a different device if Scrivener has been fully closed in the previous and the above process followed completely. This also applies if returning from Netbook to PC.
  • Open the Netbook.
  • Open Dropbox on Netbook.
  • Open My Docs on Netbook.
  • Delete any old files from the My Docs folder (these will be old versions from last time I used the Netbook, the latest version is in the Dropbox).
  • Copy the latest back up file from the Dropbox into the My Docs (it will be a zip file)
  • Unzip (extract) the file
  • Delete the original zip file from My Docs, not from Dropbox (just to eliminate confusion).
  • Open the project from the new, unzipped file that is now in My Docs.
  • Be sure to follow the process for “Saving”, but this time we are on a different machine.

I know, lots of detail there, and possibly too many steps, but this is apparently the most secure way to work, and the detail makes me feel safer. I could just work straight from the Dropbox all the time and save the backups to the local My Docs folder, however this is less secure. A Scrivener Project is actually a collection of various types of files all interacting with each other. You want the project to Autosave frequently for peace of mind, but if it is doing that with Dropbox as opposed to a fixed local drive it can create all sorts of issues. This way, the backup file is created in Dropbox only when you close Scrivener. Not only is this safer but it gives you a specific moment at which you need to turn to Dropbox and check that all is synced and you are not going to open up a half synced file next time you need to write. A half synced file could be missing hours worth of work! Bad stuff!

Phew. It was such hard work figuring all this out. I am relatively nerdy but that only gets me so far.

I’m sure others out there have ‘better’ ways of doing this, or at least better ways of explaining it. And maybe some of my assumptions are wrong. By all means, feel free to add a comment…advice is appreciated!

Busy night tonight with SES training and assessment, but tomorrow night and definitely Friday night….the writing begins! 🙂


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