Scrivener users, where do you backup your files?

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gr
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Sat Apr 17, 2021 2:13 am Post

I keep only certain live Scriv projects in my Dbox folder — the ones I want access to on ios Scriv.

I have Scriv set to automatically make a zipped backup when I close a project. These are stored on my Mac’s hard drive.

I use an external hard drive to back up my mac. (Okay, actually there are two: one is a time machine backup (which has a wayback function) and the other is a carboncopy backup (and kept at work rather than home). I do this sort of backing up when macos reminds me to, so every ten days or so.

This provides me a good amount of assurance and is easy to maintain. Minimum outlay: one good sized external drive.
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drmajorbob
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Sat Apr 17, 2021 5:31 am Post

gr wrote:I keep only certain live Scriv projects in my Dbox folder — the ones I want access to on ios Scriv.

I have Scriv set to automatically make a zipped backup when I close a project. These are stored on my Mac’s hard drive.

A small point of order: that's written as if "in the Dropbox folder" and "on the hard drive" are mutually exclusive. Not so. If there is a Dropbox folder, that folder is on the hard drive. There's a "smart" sync feature now that moves some files off the drive leaving only links to them, but that's not the case for anything recently created or modified ... and I haven't seen much change at all since activating the feature. Dropbox takes up 204GB on my drive.
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drmajorbob
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Sat Apr 17, 2021 5:36 am Post

kewms wrote:My husband recently found a disk image backup very handy when he had to revert a Big Sur installation back to Catalina. A friend was delighted to discover, after a catastrophic hard drive failure, that BackBlaze would mail her a physical drive with a complete archive of her data.

I think the thing we can both agree on is redundancy. No matter how rare failures of any given method might be, it's no fun to find that you're an outlier.

Katherine

True dat! I was an outlier twice, once when a virus ate my Windows hard drive and again when I simply forgot to save my Quicken files when moving to a new machine. That was 20-25 years ago, and my habits (and favorite OS) are a lot better now.
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devinganger
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Sat Apr 17, 2021 7:25 am Post

drmajorbob wrote:Dropbox absolutely is a backup location, especially so for zip backups. Even if you delete a file on purpose, it's still there for 30+ days. More than once, after buying a new Mac, I've restored from Dropbox. I'm puzzled what else we'd want from a "backup".


No, Bob, *it is not*. It is a sync service with versioning. What Dropbox does is sync changes to files and keep versions of any of those changes depending on storage space and speed of resolution. However, it is primarily designed to keep multiple copies in sync with the latest changes -- if I delete file A on computer 1, if everything has adequate network access I can reasonably except it to be deleted on computer 2 in a short amount of time. Likewise if I add or edit files.

With the versioning added, I can go into the Dropbox website and download the past versions of discrete files. But I can't say, "Give me this project as it existed at X point in time" and have it automatically restore that version of the entire project -- I'd have to manually re-assemble it from the versions of the various component files.

It is *not* a true point-in-time backup service, where you have a discrete set of files that were all backed up at the same time (or close to it, depending on whether your underlying file system has something like a snapshot capability) and then those files are all clumped together.

There are some use cases where Dropbox's capabilities are reasonable enough to work, but that does not make it a true backup solution any more than the fact that you can strap small table to the top of a VW Beatle makes that Beatle a moving van.
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drmajorbob
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Sat Apr 17, 2021 7:33 am Post

devinganger wrote:
drmajorbob wrote:No, Bob, *it is not*. It is a sync service with versioning

(snip)

It is *not* a true point-in-time backup service, where you have a discrete set of files that were all backed up at the same time (or close to it, depending on whether your underlying file system has something like a snapshot capability) and then those files are all clumped together.

Wrong. I can restore any folder as of a point in time, and a project (to Dropbox) is a folder. I can restore a folder that contains all my projects as of a point in time. I can restore Dropbox itself as of a point in time. That's a backup. I may not be able to rewind more than 30 days in all cases, but nor do I need to. If I did, I have Time Machine.
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Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:32 am Post

drmajorbob wrote:I can restore any folder as of a point in time

I think what people are trying to convey is that while you might be able to do it, there are many, many users of this forum who have minimal expertise in using computers, and it might be unwise to seem to encourage them to use solutions that might cause problems for them in the future. I think it is often difficult for us to realise just how limited some users may be in their knowledge. I am reminded of the day I was helping a friend who had been using computers for many years, and I double-clicked on something to open it. He looked rather startled and said "I didn't know you could do that!" I would humbly suggest that on a forum like this, it is probably best to put forward solutions that do not have hidden catches for those who are less expert. I think we can accept the point that it is possible to use Dropbox in the way that you suggest, but I personally wouldn't recommend it to anyone unless I was sure they really knew what they were doing. All sorts of things are possible, but not for everybody. I once saw an ex-RAF fighter pilot performing low-level aerobatics in a glider over our airfield. It was magnificent, but my heart sank because I knew I was going to have to go round all the less experienced pilots who had been watching and tell them not to attempt anything like it, because they would kill themselves. There was a kind of mindset that could be encountered quite frequently which we called "monkey see, monkey do". Plenty of people didn't really understand what they were seeing, but thought they did, and a fair number of crashes are caused by that. To wrap up, there is a phenomenon known as the Dunning-Kruger effect (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning-Kruger_effect) which suggests that people with a high level of expertise tend to underestimate their ability, and assume that others can do what they can. The opposite also holds, in that people with a low level of expertise tend to over-estimate their skill, with potentially unfortunate results. I feel it is worth bearing that in mind, and trying to tailor advice to the needs of the person asking for it.

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devinganger
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Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:59 am Post

drmajorbob wrote:
devinganger wrote:No, Bob, *it is not*. It is a sync service with versioning

(snip)

It is *not* a true point-in-time backup service, where you have a discrete set of files that were all backed up at the same time (or close to it, depending on whether your underlying file system has something like a snapshot capability) and then those files are all clumped together.

Wrong. I can restore any folder as of a point in time, and a project (to Dropbox) is a folder. I can restore a folder that contains all my projects as of a point in time. I can restore Dropbox itself as of a point in time.


That's funny, because Dropbox's own documentation has all sorts of caveats and warnings that show this is not a backup solution. (Unless, of course, you're buying the business version, and then a lot of those limitations disappear.)

From https://help.dropbox.com/files-folders/ ... y-overview:

"Dropbox does not save version history for folders, including application bundles." And guess what, Bob? When I go to the Dropbox app and look at a folder, "Version history" is not an option. It is if I select a file, though. I am not purchasing a Dropbox plan -- I am using the basic free plan, which is the same plan many of the users here on the forums are using.

Dropbox documentation also tells you that when you a file's version, it overwrites the file in place. This is, in fact, exactly what happens on the base level of Dropbox. If I roll a file (and I can only roll a file at a time) back to a past version, it overwrites the file in place. Instead of giving me a true point-in-time copy and then giving me the option of overwriting or restoring to an alternate location, I have to manage all of that myself.

Basic level lowest common denominator Dropbox *IS NOT A BACKUP SOLUTION.* If you're paying extra money to get the additional features that allow it to kinda be used that way, be so kind as to make it clear that's what you're doing so you aren't misleading users on this forum and setting them up for data loss.
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lunk
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Sat Apr 17, 2021 11:27 am Post

I have the Dropbox plus plan, and the versioning only cover the last 30 days. So it’s not really a backup that way either, but more of a "shit I made a misstake and saved changes I meant not to" which means I am aware I made a misstake and know that the version from 2-3 days ago doesn’t have those changes so I can roll back. It’s more of an ’undo’ mechanism.
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Sat Apr 17, 2021 3:56 pm Post

My experience parallels Lunk’s in this—Dropbox personal paid level, 30 days versioning, no folders or packages. When I had the free version, I had almost nothing.

Dropbox is an excellent sync service. I keep zipped backups elsewhere. And use Time Machine.
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kewms
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Sat Apr 17, 2021 4:59 pm Post

I have personally helped a significant number of users who have lost work because "I had it backed up to Dropbox," except the change they made obliterated important data across all synchronized devices and they didn't have Dropbox versioning with their free account.

Dropbox is a useful synchronization tool with some backup-oriented features. It is not adequate as a sole backup solution.

Claiming otherwise without significant caveats is both dangerous to users and likely to create more work for your friendly forum moderator. Making work for me can cause me to be grumpy enough to hit things with my big moderator hammer. (Yes, really. The relevant tools have a literal hammer icon.)

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drmajorbob
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Sat Apr 17, 2021 6:27 pm Post

kewms wrote:I have personally helped a significant number of users who have lost work because "I had it backed up to Dropbox," except the change they made obliterated important data across all synchronized devices and they didn't have Dropbox versioning with their free account.

Dropbox is a useful synchronization tool with some backup-oriented features. It is not adequate as a sole backup solution.

Claiming otherwise without significant caveats is both dangerous to users and likely to create more work for your friendly forum moderator. Making work for me can cause me to be grumpy enough to hit things with my big moderator hammer. (Yes, really. The relevant tools have a literal hammer icon.)

Katherine

Okay, it's not a backup solution for everyone. You win, all of you.

However ...

In that sense, Windows machines are not a safe solution for most people. Scrivener isn't a safe writing program for people who don't know how to use it — in particular, not a safe environment for iOS users who don't know how to defeat the idiosyncrasies of Dropbox. (And the rest of us too; do you remember iOS 13 at all?) I wonder how many of the same people can navigate Backblaze or setting up an NAS? A lot of them can't find their zip backups, but I don't say they're not backups because of it.
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lunk
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Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:18 pm Post

drmajorbob wrote:A lot of them can't find their zip backups, but I don't say they're not backups because of it.

True, but having zipped backups in e.g TimeMachine makes it possible for someone to tell them how to retrieve their project.
I am a user, writing non-fiction and science, using:
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* iOS Scrivener 1 on an iPhone 11 Pro, iPad Air 9.7”, and iPad Pro 12.9”, all running the latest iOS

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Sat Apr 17, 2021 9:42 pm Post

1) In 50 ... no, 51 ... years writing code and otherwise using computers, I've never needed an image backup. I need my files ... and I don't like the ungodly amount of time it takes to make or restore an image backup. The primary reason to need an image backup is Windows ... which I haven't used in almost 20 years.


In the last few months, I've had 2 clients who needed images. Neither were Windows issues, though, in general, particularly 10-20 years ago, I'd agree with you. While spinning drives generally give you lots of warning and fail slowly, SSDs sometimes just fricken stop completely and without any warning. So a client couldn't boot, the BIOS did not see the drive. A new SSD and an image allowed complete restoration. In one instance it took about 30 minutes to restore the entire system, drivers, printers, scanners, all software etc. back to exactly as it had been 1 week before. The other was more difficult as we couldn't get it to boot off a USB drive or DVD drive. (yes, I tried all the normal stuff). We had to restore the image on another computer and then replace the drive.

On yet another Dell Laptop, they used some bizarre SSD and it had a little over 10% life remaining after only 2 years! The image allowed us to replace the drive. Macrium offers free imaging software that can be scheduled for evenings while we sleep. Hard to understand why this isn't a good option, but I don't know about Macs.

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drmajorbob
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Sun Apr 18, 2021 12:13 am Post

lunk wrote:
drmajorbob wrote:A lot of them can't find their zip backups, but I don't say they're not backups because of it.

True, but having zipped backups in e.g TimeMachine makes it possible for someone to tell them how to retrieve their project.

Ditto for zip backups in Dropbox or any other service, and just to be clear, when in doubt, I'd always prefer a zip file over the backup of an uncompressed project.

I downloaded Backblaze (7 day trial), and four hours later, it's almost done. If I edited a project in the middle of that process, would the Binder and contents match? (the carpet and drapes)

iCloud sync is a problem because synchronicity fails for the various parts of a project. How do we know Backblaze doesn't have that problem? Has anyone tested to see? Have you tested all the restore options? How many times? What would it cost to test it a sufficient number of times to be sure? iCloud doesn't fail every time, after all.

Saying "Dropbox is a backup" comes with caveats/caution, but if I can restore from it — and I have, many times — saying "synchronization is not backup" is a gross over-simplification.
Last edited by drmajorbob on Sun Apr 18, 2021 12:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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drmajorbob
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Sun Apr 18, 2021 12:18 am Post

steveshank wrote:In the last few months, I've had 2 clients who needed images. Neither were Windows issues, though, in general, particularly 10-20 years ago, I'd agree with you. While spinning drives generally give you lots of warning and fail slowly, SSDs sometimes just fricken stop completely and without any warning. So a client couldn't boot, the BIOS did not see the drive. A new SSD and an image allowed complete restoration. In one instance it took about 30 minutes to restore the entire system, drivers, printers, scanners, all software etc. back to exactly as it had been 1 week before. The other was more difficult as we couldn't get it to boot off a USB drive or DVD drive. (yes, I tried all the normal stuff). We had to restore the image on another computer and then replace the drive.

On yet another Dell Laptop, they used some bizarre SSD and it had a little over 10% life remaining after only 2 years! The image allowed us to replace the drive. Macrium offers free imaging software that can be scheduled for evenings while we sleep. Hard to understand why this isn't a good option, but I don't know about Macs.

If that happened to me, I'd use Time Machine ... or I'd restore my files and reinstall software the hard way. I'm not sure the latter would be much harder than what your clients went through. It was hardly a silver bullet for you.
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