Autosave request

li
lizbee
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:03 pm Post

I was hoping there might be a way that you could add an option to disable autosave completely instead of only being able to extend the idle period for x amount of seconds. I synced up my project file to Dropbox, and, for some reason, Dropbox keeps updating like mad when you stop typing for a couple of seconds. It slowed down my internet connection quite a bit with the flurry of uploading last night. I've extended the idle period to 150 seconds, which seems a bit better, but when I opened the project on my netbook, Dropbox's notifications on my desktop went utterly nuts for quite a while as I tried to configure the options on my netbook.

I'm also one of those weird Windows users who likes to manually control everything, including things like saving documents :oops: It would warm my little OCD heart if you could add this.

Love the program, and will probably purchase it at the end of NaNo :D

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AmberV
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:13 pm Post

Please try to avoid using Dropbox in this fashion :) The advisory posted here is equally valid to Windows as both versions of Scrivener use the same file format and read/write techniques. Setting your interval up higher will definitely improve the situation, but then that conversely decreases how often your project gets saved, and with a beta it's best to be saving often.

Incidentally if you really do want to entirely shut it off, setting this interval to something ridiculously high would do the trick. It is an idle-state timer, not a static timer, so it starts counting from when you stop typing or working in the project. Every time you type in a key, it resets the timer and starts over. It will always auto-save when you quit though, no matter what the state of the timer.
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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li
lizbee
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:35 pm Post

So manually back up to a zip file at the end of every session? This kind of pain is exactly why I started using Dropbox in the first place-- I got sick of forgetting to take the latest version of a file off my laptop before I powered it off. Both computers are seldom on at the same time-- I just wanted to do a little quick testing to make sure I could open the project on my netbook. I always save manually before I close the program, so autosave at close does nothing for me. This ultimately could be a dealbreaker for me. When something becomes less convenient to use than Word, no matter how much I enjoy using it, I'll stop.

Autosave in general drives me crazy, and I shut it off on just about every program I use. It's a shame I can't do it here. And that the maximum number of seconds is so low... I was checking, and the largest setting I can use is 300 seconds-- five minutes of idle time really isn't that much. If you can't add a "disable" option, could you maximize the idle delay to something like 999 seconds?

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AmberV
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:58 pm Post

Actually, the latest versions of Microsoft Word don't work too well with Dropbox, either, so I guess we are still in the running according to the Convenience Metric. ;) These technologies are not pure magic that can handle everything a computer can do. They really only work well with one particular type of file workflow. That said, if you want to use Scrivener with Dropbox, go right ahead---it's your choice and there are people out there that do---just recognise it is riskier. It's a complex format with a lot of interlocking pieces, not a simple text file or something. Aren't you making a backup at the end of a session anyway---at least one? It's not a bad habit to get in to, and then if you are doing that, it's no more or less convenient to make one here or there. I probably make half a dozen backups a day. I've only needed them once or twice, but I wouldn't have traded all of the convenience in the world for those two times they saved eight months of work.

To each their on on auto-save. For me, that means even if the program crashes I never worry about it. I know it's all saved. If the power cable gets ripped out by the cat... oh well.

Good point on the maximum being too low though, that ought to allow a higher limit for the daring.
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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li
lizbee
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Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:31 am Post

Word works beautifully with Dropbox. I'm using Word 2010, and even though Dropbox can't upload after every save (Word apparently locks the file so Dropbox can't scrape the metadata to look for changes), documents upload perfectly when you close Word. I'm not sure where the reports come from that Word doesn't work well with Dropbox, but in my six or seven months experience with the program, including using Word 2007 with it, I've never had a single problem. I prefer to upload only at the end of a session anyway, so that "limitation" doesn't bother me at all. If I don't have internet access, Dropbox syncs on next boot, or the next time a network is available. If the internet isn't available, Dropbox also syncs via our home LAN automatically.

Dropbox is my daily backup. The file is stored online and syncs to the hard drives of any PCs linked to it. All aspects of a proper backup scheme are handled admirably-- offsite backup, and local copies on multiple hard drives. I image my system weekly to a backup drive for added insurance. Backing up beyond that seems beyond paranoid to me, and I've dealt with a few hard drives/disk controller failures recently.

Edit: I save manually every couple of minutes or every couple of paragraphs, so even if a crash were to occur, I'd barely lose anything. Word 2007 crashed twice on me in over two and a half years of use, and 2010 never has.

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AmberV
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Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:54 am Post

Yeah, the lack of save uploads with Word is what I was referring to. I've had further issues with it after closing too as well. I sometimes have to drag it out and back into the Dropbox folder for it to upload. Anyway the point was, it doesn't work seamlessly, and if you don't know the tricks it can cause problems. No different than with Scrivener. You can, with careful usage and a good auto-save interval, use Dropbox safely with Scrivener---like I said, there are those that do and have for years with no issues. You just have to be totally aware of what is most up to date, when going on and off line, and to make sure everything uploads before suspending the computer... etc. You know the drill. Not everyone does though, hence a general advisory. It saves a lot of people from woe.

Dropbox is my daily backup. The file is stored online and syncs to the hard drives of any PCs linked to it. All aspects of a proper backup scheme are handled admirably-- offsite backup, and local copies on multiple hard drives.


That's how I treat it for single-file programs and zipped backups I make from Scrivener. It's great for that because like you say, it goes to all your computers and there server, and you get version control. Problem with Scrivener's format is that a mature project can have thousands of files in it named with serial numbers; gigabytes of research. This render's DB's version control difficult to use. A "version" of a Scrivener file is potentially many hundreds of files one way one minute and several dozen another way the next minute. The difference between corruption and flawless is somewhere in between there, and timestamps are the only clue you have to fix it. So yes, it's on computer A and computer B and server compound 29-X-7882 in some datacentre somewhere, but because you are constantly overwriting your one copy (which it effectively is in this context---even though it is physically located everywhere, it is getting constantly updated everywhere too, and thus a flaw wipes out all redundant copies at once), and restoration of that one copy is non-trivial, I'd put less stock in the usual Dropbox mantra.

Edit: I save manually every couple of minutes or every couple of paragraphs, so even if a crash were to occur, I'd barely lose anything. Word 2007 crashed twice on me in over two and a half years of use, and 2010 never has.


Yeah, I used to be that way too. Most of the software I use these days is rock solid, or handle saving in the background automatically. Haven't had that habit in years, which is kind of strange feeling, now that I think about it.
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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li
lizbee
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Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:22 am Post

AmberV wrote:Yeah, the lack of save uploads with Word is what I was referring to. I've had further issues with it after closing too as well. I sometimes have to drag it out and back into the Dropbox folder for it to upload. Anyway the point was, it doesn't work seamlessly, and if you don't know the tricks it can cause problems. No different than with Scrivener. You can, with careful usage and a good auto-save interval, use Dropbox safely with Scrivener---like I said, there are those that do and have for years with no issues. You just have to be totally aware of what is most up to date, when going on and off line, and to make sure everything uploads before suspending the computer... etc. You know the drill. Not everyone does though, hence a general advisory. It saves a lot of people from woe.


Are you using Word on a Mac? I understand it's very different in terms of stability, reliability, and basic functionality. I find that on Windows the Dropbox/Word syncing and uploading works perfectly for my needs. I've never had to drag anything in and out of the Dropbox folder to get syncing to work-- it just happens automatically a second or two after I close the Word window. Apparently, the Mac version of Word isn't quite as predictable. I don't want to upload my file every time I manually save, since in your average two or three hour writing session, I'll probably save 50 times or more, especially when I make a minor tweak or two early in the document. And I really don't want to do constant uploading on a slow public network.

That's how I treat it for single-file programs and zipped backups I make from Scrivener. It's great for that because like you say, it goes to all your computers and there server, and you get version control. Problem with Scrivener's format is that a mature project can have thousands of files in it named with serial numbers; gigabytes of research. This render's DB's version control difficult to use. A "version" of a Scrivener file is potentially many hundreds of files one way one minute and several dozen another way the next minute. The difference between corruption and flawless is somewhere in between there, and timestamps are the only clue you have to fix it. So yes, it's on computer A and computer B and server compound 29-X-7882 in some datacentre somewhere, but because you are constantly overwriting your one copy (which it effectively is in this context---even though it is physically located everywhere, it is getting constantly updated everywhere too, and thus a flaw wipes out all redundant copies at once), and restoration of that one copy is non-trivial, I'd put less stock in the usual Dropbox mantra.


It'll be some time before I trust Scrivener with everything. Definitely after the beta. So far, I'm just using the word processor for a new short story. I never outline, and most of my prepwork is actually done in OneNote, which has a certain freeform flexibility I love, plus controlled updating via SkyDrive. I don't think I'll ever use Scrivener for that, so my personal projects probably won't exceed a few megabytes of data :wink: I'm comfortable with Dropbox handling that amount of data.

Yeah, I used to be that way too. Most of the software I use these days is rock solid, or handle saving in the background automatically. Haven't had that habit in years, which is kind of strange feeling, now that I think about it.


Just use OpenOffice for a novel or two, and you'll get back into the saving habit very quickly. Urgh. I still haven't lost it after over three years of Word's stability. :lol:

I guess the main reason I'm making this request is because unlike a lot of Mac users, Windows users have diverse habits and far differing preferences as to how they want to use programs. We're also used to endless flexibility in configuring just about everything we can get our hands on. Some of us change nothing, but some of us are relentless tweakers (raises hand). Losing that flexibility is pretty frustrating, no matter how much you might love everything else about a program.

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AmberV
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Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:57 am Post

Are you using Word on a Mac? I understand it’s very different in terms of stability, reliability, and basic functionality.


You are right on that point, Office for Mac is a totally different beast, and way less reliable. However, the problems I experienced were with Word 2010 on a Windows 7 netbook. It wasn’t horrible, but it was enough to cause me to decide to just work “offline” with .docx files and drag them to Dropbox before I leave the coffeehouse. No big deal, but for me that puts it at the same level of convenience as Scrivener; neither of which bother me. It’s way easier than things used to be.

It’ll be some time before I trust Scrivener with everything. Definitely after the beta…. I don’t think I’ll ever use Scrivener for that, so my personal projects probably won’t exceed a few megabytes of data :wink: I’m comfortable with Dropbox handling that amount of data.


Once the Windows version is caught up with 2.0, I think Scrivener’s ability to step in for some of what OneNote can do, will be better. The corkboard feature can be free-form, and it’s a lot easier to just work in an abstract way like that—and once you do reach a point where structures starts to emerge, the transition point disappears, you just flow straight from chaos to writing chapters. Windows version 1 will be about 80% there, I’d say, when it releases. Enough for most people, that is to say, but not everyone. Some around here on the Mac forums still use diagram style or other freeform tools prior to, or in parallel with, Scrivener. More did for a while, but eventually figured out ways of tweaking Scrivener to fill in for these other roles, and now work almost exclusive in it.

Just use OpenOffice for a novel or two, and you’ll get back into the saving habit very quickly. Urgh. I still haven’t lost it after over three years of Word’s stability.


Ha. I use that program just enough to do compatibility testing with Scrivener’s export, and then immediately run away. That stinker crashes constantly.

I guess the main reason I’m making this request is because unlike a lot of Mac users, Windows users have diverse habits and far differing preferences as to how they want to use programs. We’re also used to endless flexibility in configuring just about everything we can get our hands on. Some of us change nothing, but some of us are relentless tweakers (raises hand). Losing that flexibility is pretty frustrating, no matter how much you might love everything else about a program.


I hear you on that. I actually came from Linux, prior to moving to OS X. I’d say only in the past few years have I grown to be really comfortable on a Mac. That might be a combination of acclimation and finding some cool tools that let me go beyond what the base system provides for—but for the longest time it was kind of frustrating not being able to do half of what I wanted to do.

Scrivener (for Mac) really is crazy flexible though, which isn’t really evident yet in these betas. It’s not like most Mac programs that have ten preferences and to hell with you if you don’t like it. This will gradually pick up as the beta fleshes out, and onward as it acquires 2.0 functionality. The documentation for the preference panels are about twenty pages of US Letter 10pt, and that’s mostly just a bare-bones account of what each preference does, not a discourse on them all (if I counted that, which is done elsewhere in the manual and thus harder to count, it would probably be close to 150 pages purely on customisation)—and the preference panels are only 2/3 of what can be altered. Another big chunk is project level customisation and it is more difficult to quantify that as it is spread throughout the documentation. So I guess what I’m saying is, this is one Mac program that caters to Mac users who aren’t as much like the stereotype—and so hopefully will live more comfortably in the Windows culture as a result.

The max auto-save thing should be increased though. 300 seconds isn’t too bad, but I think the Mac max is 9999 seconds which effectively shuts it off. Even 300 seconds isn’t awful. That’s five minutes of just sitting there doing nothing—if you have unsaved stuff after five minutes of idling, might not be a bad idea to have it saved anyway.

Oh by the way network usage for Scrivener at high auto-save settings is pretty efficient. It only uploads the resources that have changed, and most of these are tiny files. So even in a gigabyte+ project, average Dropbox bandwidth for normal editing would be miniscule. I wouldn’t underestimate the bulk of files the average person generates though, because Scriv parcels out data into separate files for efficiency. The synopsis text card is a file, the notes pane is a file, the main text is a file, so are any links that have been made within the text. So at maximum, a single “document” in Scrivener can be four files all presented as a single cohesive document in the interface. A “normal” book of 20 chapters with three to five scenes per chapter could net an average 250 component files—and that’s with zero supporting documents. No external notes, character sketches, research, etc. Hit the split command to cut a scene in two, and bam, that’s +1–4 files since split documents acquire meta-data.
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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li
lizbee
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Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:20 am Post

AmberV wrote:However, the problems I experienced were with Word 2010 on a Windows 7 netbook. It wasn’t horrible, but it was enough to cause me to decide to just work “offline” with .docx files and drag them to Dropbox before I leave the coffeehouse. No big deal, but for me that puts it at the same level of convenience as Scrivener; neither of which bother me.


See, that would drive me completely nuts. Weird that you're experiencing that-- most of my writing is done on my netbook, and I've never had that problem using Win 7 Pro and Word 2010. I've noticed that Office 2010 doesn't install quite as reliably as 2007 did-- maybe you need to repair it. I had a couple of issues on my desktop when I first installed it, but repairing made everything run smooth as silk.

Once the Windows version is caught up with 2.0, I think Scrivener’s ability to step in for some of what OneNote can do, will be better. The corkboard feature can be free-form, and it’s a lot easier to just work in an abstract way like that—and once you do reach a point where structures starts to emerge, the transition point disappears, you just flow straight from chaos to writing chapters. Windows version 1 will be about 80% there, I’d say, when it releases. Enough for most people, that is to say, but not everyone. Some around here on the Mac forums still use diagram style or other freeform tools prior to, or in parallel with, Scrivener. More did for a while, but eventually figured out ways of tweaking Scrivener to fill in for these other roles, and now work almost exclusive in it.


Maybe. I've looked at the corkboard thing, and the index cards just reek of "structure," even if there really isn't one. I just type randomly in OneNote as things occur to me, and import images, entire PowerPoint presentations, video and whatnot. And I doodle with the drawing tools, all in the same place. I'll play around with the corkboard a bit, but I'm utterly random, so even the vaguest hint of structure has me running for the hills. I'm envisioning my own use of Scrivener as being an alternate writing platform when I get sick of looking at Word.

I actually came from Linux, prior to moving to OS X. I’d say only in the past few years have I grown to be really comfortable on a Mac. That might be a combination of acclimation and finding some cool tools that let me go beyond what the base system provides for—but for the longest time it was kind of frustrating not being able to do half of what I wanted to do.


Brave. I like tweaking things, but with ease. Linux drove me nuts, even after taking several sysadmin classes, and becoming comfortable with the command line :lol: And OS X is too "visual" for me, and not flexible enough.

Scrivener (for Mac) really is crazy flexible though, which isn’t really evident yet in these betas. It’s not like most Mac programs that have ten preferences and to hell with you if you don’t like it. This will gradually pick up as the beta fleshes out, and onward as it acquires 2.0 functionality. The documentation for the preference panels are about twenty pages of US Letter 10pt, and that’s mostly just a bare-bones account of what each preference does, not a discourse on them all (if I counted that, which is done elsewhere in the manual and thus harder to count, it would probably be close to 150 pages purely on customisation)—and the preference panels are only 2/3 of what can be altered. Another big chunk is project level customisation and it is more difficult to quantify that as it is spread throughout the documentation. So I guess what I’m saying is, this is one Mac program that caters to Mac users who aren’t as much like the stereotype—and so hopefully will live more comfortably in the Windows culture as a result.


You'll probably be netting a ton of Windows-user love. I'm definitely half in love with the program already. It has some Mac-y weirdness that I'll adjust to-- eventually. But the autosave thing... That just drives me nuts.

The max auto-save thing should be increased though. 300 seconds isn’t too bad, but I think the Mac max is 9999 seconds which effectively shuts it off. Even 300 seconds isn’t awful. That’s five minutes of just sitting there doing nothing—if you have unsaved stuff after five minutes of idling, might not be a bad idea to have it saved anyway.


Pretty please with the increase? That would net you an instant buy on my end once NaNoWriMo's over. I already save manually anyway before a surfing break.

A “normal” book of 20 chapters with three to five scenes per chapter could net an average 250 component files—and that’s with zero supporting documents. No external notes, character sketches, research, etc. Hit the split command to cut a scene in two, and bam, that’s +1–4 files since split documents acquire meta-data.


I just write everything in one huge document, so my usage will be far outside the norm. I'm a random note-taker, but a linear writer.

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AmberV
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Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:57 am Post

I’ll have to check out my installation and see if there is something wonky with it. I opted for the “Click-to-Run” install, whatever that means (how else would I run it?) so most of it downloaded off of the Internet as I started playing with it. Maybe you are supposed to let it chill for a while first. The OS on the netbook I left at Win7 Starter because I wanted at least one system left “bare bones” for tech support. I have another system using Home, and another for XP Pro (again mainly just for tech support). Haven’t tried DB and Word on the w7 Home one yet. Might try that as it is unlikely both systems are equally haywire.

Maybe. I’ve looked at the corkboard thing, and the index cards just reek of “structure,” even if there really isn’t one.


Yeah, there isn’t. ;) It can look that way though. A lot of people ask how to make new chapters—there are no chapters. It’s just a folder with some files in it. It could just as easily have been one long file like you use.

Brave. I like tweaking things, but with ease. Linux drove me nuts, even after taking several sysadmin classes, and becoming comfortable with the command line :lol: And OS X is too “visual” for me, and not flexible enough.


Crazy is more like it. OS X can be visual, yes; out of the box it most certainly is. It can also be about as geeky and text-only as Linux. It’s a common misconception that it’s very limited, the main problem is that after you get past the default system control panel stuff, you need some UNIX knowledge. Not too different from Windows in that regard, just a different skillset once you get past the basics—but you definitely can get past the basics and running sed on a command line or what have you. Another misconception it is that is very mouse-heavy. Again, by default it is, but it can be tweaked beyond that. I can grab a few paragraphs of text, encapsulate it into a web page, and then publish the webpage to my FTP server in about five seconds without lifting my fingers off the home-row. I have all kinds of Ruby scripts running in the background on cron schedules, sifting through data as I create it and massaging its format, renaming, organising it, etc. A host of event triggers that time-bomb working area files, automatically upload backups, and so forth. This is all in the realm of “advanced user stuff”, no doubt, but its all possible and very easy to do once you know how.

Pretty please with the increase? That would net you an instant buy on my end once NaNoWriMo’s over. I already save manually anyway before a surfing break.


Then auto-save won’t fire. You can tell when it will by the asterisk after the project name in the title bar. No asterisk and it will sit there doing nothing until you come back. Manually saving removes the asterisk.

I’m sure Lee will eventually stumble across this thread, but if in a few weeks he does not, feel free to bump it and I’ll bring it to his attention.

I just write everything in one huge document, so my usage will be far outside the norm. I’m a random note-taker, but a linear writer.


I’m the same way, I don’t really write chaotically too much, but because most of my stuff is non-fiction, I heavily benefit from a sectional analysis of the text structure. An outline wedded to the text provides that so I can just jump straight to a section that I know needs fixing using the binder, and then pop back out to the larger scope with the Scrivenings mode that sews all of the pieces together into one meta-document.

In the one or two fiction projects I pick away at, I still like having sections. I actually break down everything even lower than the scene level (I don’t really think in “scenes” anyway) in many cases as I like to apply meta-data independently to parts of the draft. Search results become more topical; snapshots more usable in scope; labels can be used to analyse the flow of a plot that is otherwise interleaved like a shotgun all over the book; etc.
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:17 pm Post

To add my two cents: I've been using Word 2010 on Windows 7 with Dropbox for the past several months for one of my writing projects. In general, I've had no problems, except that on rare occasions, Word suddenly considers the file to be read-only, and I have to close out and re-open the file to get it back to writeable. This tends to happen within moments of me hitting Ctrl-S.

My suspicion is that when I save the file, it triggers some event in Dropbox where it attempts to get a read/write lock, and because of some funky interactions, it's able to get it, causing Word to think the file is read-only.

It's mildly annoying, but livable.

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Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:13 pm Post

This is disappointing, and probably a deal-breaker for me (at least, combined with Beta status, for this round of NaNoWriMo). As with others here, I work on multiple PCs, and would like to have my Scrivener data immediately available on any of them. The way it sounds, the recommended technique would be exporting to a zip file at the end of each session, get the zip file into Dropbox (et al.), and then on another machine, import from that zip file.

Since I may be grabbing a 5-10 minute opportunity to write something, this just isn't workable.

Sooooo ... I will probably continue working with Google Docs (or something I can save in Dropbox) for this round, and check out the non-Beta version of Scrivener next fall to see if it supports me in the manner I'd love to become accustomed to. The added features that Scrivener has look awesome, but the inter-machine convenience level sounds prohibitive to me.

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Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:52 pm Post

I'm so the opposite. The "syncing" part of everything is such a minuscule part of the writing experience for me---I couldn't even quantify it, it's like whether or not the window border is purple. I just don't care. I need the central program to be stomping cool and handle all of the trillion things I'm doing in the middle of a major writing project. Couldn't imagine trying to do all of that in GoogleDocs just because it syncs better. Backing up a zip file takes zero mind-space for me, but I'd be raving mad at Google's interface the other 99.999% of the time I'm living in it.

Funny how everyone has these different priorities. None are "better" of course, just differences.

But yeah, read above into everything I've said (sorry, I know it's a lot). It's not impossible to use Dropbox with Scrivener---it's just an increased risk; just like working on a laptop is an increased risk because the hard-drive runs hot, and you might drop it, and et cetera. You can do it... lizbee has the right idea: set the auto-save up high and be careful and aware of your upload/download status before plunging into stuff and you'll probably be fine. If that's the only thing holding you back, I suggest you give it a try. But do make backups; it's a beta. Everyone should make backups even if it isn't a beta, and it's really easy with Scrivener with that menu command---you don't even have to stop writing.

To reiterate: the main reason for the global advisory is to err on the side of caution. Not everyone is as comfortable with their computer, and Dropbox makes it easier to royally screw things up. Since posting that advisory, corrupted project reports plummeted to rare issues. These simple common-sense guidelines can help you out:

1. Auto-save effectively off
2. Save often as per normal; but try not to save if the last save is still uploading
3. Always wait for everything to upload before suspending your computer
4. Always wait for everything to download before opening the project
5. Never open a project on two computers at once
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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