How to use Dropbox to Keep Your Scrivener Projects Backed Up

1.    Download Dropbox and install it.
 Click this link.

It’s free and gives you 2GB of free storage, with syncing between 3 devices plenty of space for hundreds of Scrivener projects. And, you have the option of buying more space and unlimited devices if you need it.

The installer will put a folder in your computer’s documents folder called “Dropbox.” Anything you put in this file will stay on your computer and be backed up to the cloud. If you install Dropbox on another computer, and use the same login information, it will keep the two folders on both machines synced. Anything you add or delete from one folder will also be added or deleted in the cloud and on the other computer.

Other Dropbox advantages:

Web access. You can get use a web interface to login and get at your files from any browser. Handy if you are using a friend’s computer or at work.

Sharing Files: You can right click on a file and it will give you a sharing link you can send to people. This allows them to open the file without giving them access to your entire Dropbox folder. Nice for collaborating or sending your file to a publisher or editor.

Public Folder: People can put things into your Dropbox, again without giving them access to your entire Dropbox folder. It is even nicer that there is no file size limit (except your storage limit), since some email programs won’t let you send or receive big files.

Undelete: Because it is a syncing program, deleting the file on your local Dropbox folder will delete it in the cloud. However, Dropbox lets you pull stuff out of the trash on the Dropbox website for up to 30 days after you delete it.

2. Move and Save All Your Scrivener Projects to the Dropbox Folder.

You can have folders inside this folder, so I would make one in Dropbox called “Scrivener Projects” and put everything in there.  Folders inside of folders are okay too, as long as they are all inside the Dropbox folder. From then on only save and work out of this folder, then your project will always be backed up. Should your computer crash, get stolen or go up in a fire, at least your work will be safely backed up in the cloud.

Keep in Mind: Of course your computer needs to be connected to the Internet for the backup to work, but it is pretty fast. You will see a green check mark next to the file in your Dropbox folder when it is finished syncing. Don’t shut your computer down or disconnect from the Internet until you see the green checkmark; you could corrupt the file, or at the very least you won’t have a complete backup. 

3. Set Scrivener to Save Multiple Backups to the Dropbox Folder.

A backup of your most recent version isn’t enough. It might get corrupted due to a disk error. Or, you might just want to roll back to a previous version if you have made a lot changes you don’t like. You might even want to compare an old version of your project to the new version. So having multiple backups is very useful, and Scrivener can automate the process.

First, make a folder in Dropbox for Backups. Here I’ve named mine “Scrivener Backups.”
Then, under the top menu  Scrivener > Preferences > Backups > Backup Location, click “Choose” on the lower right and repoint the Backup location to your Dropbox backup folder. Here are the settings I use:

I back up “on open,” in case I want to roll back to where I started. I back up “on close” to make sure I have a back up of the latest edits. And I “back up with each manual save,” because in the event of power failure you could lose your most recent edits and that is when open files are most likely to become corrupted.

Notice that I don’t compress my backups as zip files. I don’t recommend compression unless you really are short on space (you can always have your Dropbox folder be on an external drive if your computer’s hard drive is too full). Dropbox might try to upload the file before it done compressing and this can lead to a corrupted file.

I only keep the last 25 backups, but you can uncheck the “Only keep:” box to keep them all.

To restore a backup, simply find it in the back up folder and open it. If you chose compression you may need to unzip it first, but Scrivener can open those zip files from its open menu.

You can use this process with other Cloud services. I’ve tried with Google Drive and Microsoft Drive, but both of those want to convert files to their format. I prefer a backup that leaves my files alone. Dropbox is easy and free and secure, so I prefer to use that.


About the Author:

Steve Hopstaken is a co-author of the novel “Stoker’s Wilde,” written and published using Scrivener.

Stoker’s Wilde: Available as print, Kindle eBook or audiobook