Lost writing due to faulty syncing

ka
kadavy
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2019 3:42 pm
Platform: Mac + iOS

Mon Sep 09, 2019 3:53 pm Post

It looks like I lost a morning's writing, due to faulty syncing. I of course want to get this writing back, but more than anything, I need to figure out what went wrong so I can ever trust Scrivener for iOS again.

Before I went to the cafe this morning for a writing session, I made sure my laptop and my iPad were both synced via Dropbox. I was seriously careful about this, as writing on Scrivener for iPad is a new habit for me. I visually compared the section I would be writing in, to make sure they were the same on both. I left Scrivener open on my laptop, as I always do.

I then went to the cafe and wrote. When I was done writing, I closed out of the document and made sure to sync.

When I got home, I closed the document on my laptop, made sure Dropbox was synced, and opened the document back up. My new writing wasn't there!

I tried syncing a couple of times on each device, and got the same result: The new writing was showing up on my iPad, but not on my laptop. Yes, I was syncing the same file, in my Apps/Scrivener Dropbox folder.

I got my webcam to document this strange discrepancy for Scrivener support, and as I was recording, I realized that now my new writing this morning wasn't showing up on my iPad! F***********CK!!!!

(Now I'm punching myself for not copying and pasting this morning's writing into Evernote.)

I tried to do a Dropbox rewind to an earlier time, but with no luck. My morning's writing is still gone.

1. Does anyone know a way for me to get my writing back?
2. What the hell happened, and how can I prevent it in the future? (Besides never trusting Scrivener for iOS again!)

EDIT: Just want to clarify that there were no conflict messages, and there are no conflicting changes showing up for this in Scrivener.

User avatar
kewms
Posts: 5285
Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:22 pm
Platform: Mac

Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:09 pm Post

kadavy wrote:When I got home, I closed the document on my laptop, made sure Dropbox was synced, and opened the document back up. My new writing wasn't there!


I suspect this was the issue. Best practice would have been to close the document on the laptop *before* editing on the iPad. Barring that, the next best choice would have been to use the Sync -> With Mobile Devices command to incorporate the iOS changes into the open project. Based on your description, I suspect what happened is that Dropbox believed that the laptop version was newer.

For future reference, you can backup a project from the iPad by tapping Edit above the project list, selecting the project, then tapping the Export icon along the bottom row. That will create a ZIP archive of the project, which you can email to yourself.

A troubleshooting guide for iOS synchronization can be found here:
https://scrivener.tenderapp.com/help/kb ... os-syncing

Katherine
Scrivener Support Team

ka
kadavy
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2019 3:42 pm
Platform: Mac + iOS

Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:27 pm Post

Thanks Katherine,
Now that you mention it, I believe I did do File > Sync with Mobile devices before closing Scrivener and re-opening (it's a little bit of a blur, but I probably didn't close until I noticed it wasn't syncing).

At some point, there should have been a document synced that was my up-to-date one from the cafe, but unfortunately I've done Dropbox rewind on every single change that came through this morning, to no avail. Can you make sense of that?

So apparently one should close Scrivener every time they aren't writing – just in case they leave the house and decide to capture a thought while on the go. That seems contradictory to the point of having a cross-platform writing solution. I guess Evernote has spoiled me.

ka
kadavy
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2019 3:42 pm
Platform: Mac + iOS

Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:32 pm Post

Additionally, at one point, both devices claimed to be synced, but showed different versions of the same document. Can you explain that?

User avatar
kewms
Posts: 5285
Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:22 pm
Platform: Mac

Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:54 pm Post

If both devices claim to be synced, but show a different version of the same document, that's obviously a clue that something is amiss. At that point, I'd recommend making independent backups on both devices as protection against exactly the kind of error you saw.

It takes a small, but measurable amount of time for changes uploaded from one device to Dropbox to be available for download to other devices. This "processing" time -- up to a few minutes, in my experience -- is most likely to be a factor if you're synchronizing devices in quick succession, and is a reason to be sure to synchronize devices as they are updated whenever possible. (In this context, synchronize the iPad using the coffee shop wifi instead of waiting until you get home, for example.)

The troubleshooting guide I linked above details a number of other situations that can cause erroneous synchronization.

The "on the go" scenario is why the auto-close option exists, so that Scrivener will shut itself down when you're away. Scrivener -> Preferences -> Automatic Quit.

Katherine
Scrivener Support Team

ka
kadavy
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2019 3:42 pm
Platform: Mac + iOS

Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:26 pm Post

In this context, synchronize the iPad using the coffee shop wifi instead of waiting until you get home, for example.

This is exactly what I did! It was a couple more hours before I got home and had this issue. Something didn't work correctly.

Didn't know about automatic quit, but just turned it on. Thanks for that.

Ji
JimRac
Posts: 1192
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2014 2:06 pm
Platform: Win + iOS

Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:49 pm Post

Hi kadavy,

Sorry to hear you lost writing. :(
kewms wrote:For future reference, you can backup a project from the iPad by tapping Edit above the project list, selecting the project, then tapping the Export icon along the bottom row. That will create a ZIP archive of the project, which you can email to yourself.
Katherine's point is worth repeating. I use this method after *every* iOS writing session. Before closing iOS Scriv I create a zipped backup of the project and save it to OneDrive, to the same folder where I store my Desktop zipped backups. Doing this ensures that I won't lose the work I just did, in the event of some syncing glitch.

I strongly recommend you do the same.

Best,
Jim
I’m just a customer.

User avatar
lunk
Posts: 3545
Joined: Wed Aug 21, 2013 4:24 pm
Platform: Mac + iOS
Location: Sweden 64° N

Mon Sep 09, 2019 6:06 pm Post

The important thing to remember is that there are always three different computers involved in the syncing process. Each with its own HD where it stores the project:
Your Mac
The Dropbox server
Your iPad

On the Mac the Dropbox app is constantly monitoring the Dropbox folder when the Mac is awake. Any files changed on the Mac are immediately uploaded to the Dropbox server HD.

In Scrivener, every document in the Binder is its own file in the file system. As soon as you do something in a document, even if you only move the cursor, as soon as you pause for a few seconds that document's file, inside the .scriv folder (which looks like a file in Finder but is actually a folder) is re-saved on the Mac HD. The Dropbox app notices that the file has changed and uploads it to the DB server, over-writing the corresponding file on its HD.

If you then look at the project on the iPad, it won't now what happened if you had Scrivener open, because iOS Scriv doesn't have that kind of background DB app because it can't. iOS Scriv checks the DB server for changed files when you start iOS Scriv, but if it is already open you need to manually tell it to check for any changes by tapping the sync icon.

The keyword to long-term successful syncing is - patience! Being in a hurry is no good. Give all steps plenty of time.

Close the project in Mac Scriv and give the DB app a few seconds at least to sync everything, before closing the laptop.
Always tap the sync icon in iOS Scriv before opening a project.
Always tap the sync icon in iOS Scriv before changing app on the iPad and leaving iOS Scriv.
Always wait a few seconds when you have re-opened your Mac laptop before opening Scriv, and check in Finder that the project is up-to-date before opening it. If you want to be really sure, tap the DB icon in the top menu bar, and check that the latest changes have been downloaded and there is nothing waiting.
I am a user, writing non-fiction and science, using:
* Mac Scrivener 3 on a Macbook 12”, MacBook Pro 13”, and iMac 27”, all running the latest MacOS
* iOS Scrivener 1 on an iPhone 8, iPad Air 9.7”, and iPad Pro 12.9”, all running the latest iOS

Ci
Cirrocumulus
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:39 pm
Platform: Mac

Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:19 pm Post

Hello. I find these kinds of reports extremely scary. IMHO there is absolutely *no* reason in 2019 to make users triple-check the order in which they are doing things so as not to lose work, and rely on daily backups in case they have *tragically* launched an app at the wrong time. I'm aware of the fact that it's not easy to pull off good sync, but all the apps I'm using handle conflicts gracefully: not only iA Writer which I know uses simple iCloud sync, but even DevonThink which syncs multiple databases with gigabytes of items, notes, flags etc, on an encrypted WebDav server with nary a hiccup (and around ten times faster than Dropbox). All of this should really be transparent to the user IMHO. We shouldn't be caring about app launch order in 2019.

User avatar
lunk
Posts: 3545
Joined: Wed Aug 21, 2013 4:24 pm
Platform: Mac + iOS
Location: Sweden 64° N

Wed Sep 11, 2019 2:45 pm Post

Well, the way Scrivener handles syncing is part of what Scrivener is. If you don’t like it, don’t use it.
You don’t HAVE to use Scrivener you know. You’re free to use the apps you like. :)
I am a user, writing non-fiction and science, using:
* Mac Scrivener 3 on a Macbook 12”, MacBook Pro 13”, and iMac 27”, all running the latest MacOS
* iOS Scrivener 1 on an iPhone 8, iPad Air 9.7”, and iPad Pro 12.9”, all running the latest iOS

User avatar
kewms
Posts: 5285
Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:22 pm
Platform: Mac

Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:04 pm Post

I use DevonThink to Go quite extensively. It's probably in a dead heat with Scrivener for my most-critical application. I wouldn't say it syncs "without a hiccup" at all. It's fairly common for me to open the iPad version of the database and find that files I recently added on the Mac aren't there yet.

The key difference? They aren't "my" files. They're research files I downloaded from some other source, not thousands of words of my own writing. I'm planning to read them, not to change them. And so the consequences of synchronization delays are completely different.

Katherine
Scrivener Support Team

Ci
Cirrocumulus
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:39 pm
Platform: Mac

Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:17 pm Post

lunk wrote:You don’t HAVE to use Scrivener you know. You’re free to use the apps you like. :)


I am aware of that. I was pointing out a specific part of Scrivener which, in my opinion, needs to be improved. I am using it daily and appreciate its feature set very much, in case the obvious needed to be mentioned.

User avatar
Jaysen
Posts: 6147
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 4:00 am
Platform: Mac + Windows
Location: East-Be-Jesus-Nowhere SC, USA

Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:04 pm Post

I use all kinds of sync software. Ironically, some of the best tools have the highest failures. Not because the tool is bad, but because the user doesn't follow the rules.

ex: having the same item open in two different places. This breaks, google, icloud, one drive, dropbox, emv block replication (which is a hardware sync in big boy sans that we just discovered gets all kinds of angry if you edit the same block in two different locations).

The issue is almost never the underlying components once something is as far a long as scrivner. it is almost always user habits in conflict with the requirements for clean synchronization.
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

Image

Ci
Cirrocumulus
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:39 pm
Platform: Mac

Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:15 pm Post

Jaysen wrote:ex: having the same item open in two different places.


Apps are not the same and implementations are different, yes. But I would just like to point out that it's possible to keep e.g. DevonThink (or other apps) open on a Mac, showing an open text note, do a quick modification on the note via iPhone or iPad, sync it on the way back to the Mac and see the modified contents on the (still open) document. I would rather have Scrivener complain and handle conflicted copies more gracefully than twitch in panic because I'm not sure if I've quit the app or not. Scrivener is the first app I've used that has an "Automatic Quit" option (which is of course almost essential in this case).

Just my 2c.

User avatar
lunk
Posts: 3545
Joined: Wed Aug 21, 2013 4:24 pm
Platform: Mac + iOS
Location: Sweden 64° N

Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:49 pm Post

Cirrocumulus wrote:I was pointing out a specific part of Scrivener which, in my opinion, needs to be improved.
Well, you didn't phrase it like that.
Cirrocumulus wrote:Hello. I find these kinds of reports extremely scary. IMHO there is absolutely *no* reason in 2019 to make users triple-check the order in which they are doing things so as not to lose work, ...
- - -
We shouldn't be caring about app launch order in 2019.

This sounds very demanding and negative and not as if you are only "pointing out" something.

There are literally thousands of users that switch between Mac/PC and iOS devices who don't lose their work. Not by triple-checking the order in which they are doing things, but by not being sloppy about syncing. By simply closing the project whenever you leave your Mac or iPad in order to do something else.

I don't understand how you can find the reports of problems posted in here to be "extremely scary", when there is almost always an easy explanation for the problems.
I am a user, writing non-fiction and science, using:
* Mac Scrivener 3 on a Macbook 12”, MacBook Pro 13”, and iMac 27”, all running the latest MacOS
* iOS Scrivener 1 on an iPhone 8, iPad Air 9.7”, and iPad Pro 12.9”, all running the latest iOS