Our support thread on "Working off of network drives" has understandably left many users concerned about using Scrivener with Dropbox. However, the problems with storing .scriv files on Dropbox have been somewhat overstated, mainly because we want to ensure users know that no syncing method is 100% safe. So, here are some guidelines on using Scrivener with Dropbox that should keep you out of trouble.
Sharing a Project Between Computers Using Dropbox
If you want to access a project on more than one computer, the most straightforward way is to use Dropbox, storing your .scriv file in your Dropbox folder. The project will then be available on any computer you have set up to sync to your Dropbox folder, and because a Dropbox folder is no different to any other folder on your Mac, other than for the fact that it automatically syncs to your Dropbox account, you can open your .scriv file directly from there on whatever computer you are using.
However, if you do this, there are several things you need to make sure of - if you don't follow these guidelines, you could run into problems with projects getting corrupted or files not showing up correctly:
- Never, ever open the same project on more than one computer at a time: be sure to close your project on one computer before leaving that computer and trying to open it on another machine. The good news is that if you forget, when you go to open it on your other computer, Scrivener will warn you that it thinks the project is open on another machine. Always heed this warning. It is possible that you will see this warning when the project isn't open on another machine - for instance, if Scrivener crashed the last time it was used or wasn't closed properly, or if the project was copied while it was open - but always read read the warning and double-check. Only proceed with opening the project if you are sure it is not open on another machine. If you're not sure, Scrivener gives you the option of making a copy of the project to work on instead.
- Do not open the project before your Dropbox folder is fully synced. If you try to open the project while your Dropbox folder is still syncing, you could be opening it in its old state before it has downloaded the changes made from your other computer - and by opening the project, you will overwrite those changes with the older version you have opened. So be sure the tick in the green circle is present in the Dropbox icon in your menu bar - if it's not, don't open the project: wait until Dropbox is fully synced.
- Turn on automatic backups (in Scrivener's "Backup" preferences), setting Scrivener to back up your project on open or close (or both), preferably with the "Compress automatic backups as zip files" option ticked. Choose a backup bath somewhere on your local hard drive. This will ensure that your project has backups on every machine you use it on, as well as the "live" version in the Dropbox folder, so that even if the worst happens and the project gets corrupted somehow, you will have a recent version to return to.
Follow the above guidelines and you should be good to work on your projects directly from Dropbox.
Caveat: Although these guidelines should keep you out of trouble, no syncing solution is 100% reliable, and every computer and piece of software is fallible. We can take no responsibility for work lost through syncing problems (or for any other reason, for that matter - always be sure to back up!).
Note on External Folder Sync
External folder sync is intended for working on files in other programs and then being able to sync them back to Scrivener. You should never try to use external folder sync to synchronise Scrivener projects between machines - if you do so, you will corrupt your project and see some very odd results.
Hope that helps.
All the best,