How not to lose project files and data - Best Practices

From time to time we get queries on the forum like:

  • My project file has somehow become corrupted, what can I do?
  • Shotcut just crashed and my project is now screwed up, what can I do?
  • etc…

Depending on the state of the project file (XXX.mlt) you may be able to recover it by editing that file. It is after all just a text (XML) file. Before even attempting to do this always make a copy of the file in case you trash it completely while editing.

If you cannot recover the project file then the next best option is to use a previous version, again making a copy of this before you attempt to use it. If you do not have a previous version then your only recourse is to start your project again from scratch. So this emphasizes the need to have at least 1 previous version. So how can you do this?

This is what I do when I am working on a project, especially a large one:

  • Every hour or so I use the FileSave As menu item to save the project with a new name. So at the end of the day I would have multiple projects with names: XXX.mlt, XXX_1.mlt, XXX_2.mlt,…,XXX_8.mlt. If my latest file (XXX_8.mlt) becomes corrupt, or I made lots of changes that I really want to get rid of, I can always delete that file, save a copy of XXX_7.mlt to XXX_8.mlt and use that as my Shotcut project file. That way I have only lost or removed the work I did in the last hour, rather than all of my work.

  • Every night I make a backup of all the files on my system(s) to an external disk, it takes just a couple of minutes usually. That way, when I come in the next day and find my computer has been stolen, or my internal disk has crashed, or a virus has infected all my files, or I have become the latest victim of a ransomeware attack, I can relax, safe in the knowledge that I have a copy of all my files on a backup disk that is kept somewhere safe, away from my computer.

  • Once a week or so I make a copy of my external backup disk onto another external disk and save this somewhere completely separate from my home where my computers are. I actualy store it in my locker at the golf club I play at. It is encrypted, using VeraCrypt, for security.

All of my systems run Windows 11 or Windows 10. The backup system I use is from a company called 2BrightSparks, which has a product called SyncBack. There are several versions: SyncBackFree, SyncBackSE and SyncbackPro, which differ in the features each supports. I use the free version called SyncbackFree. See here for a comparison of the features:

The webite has lots of information on how to use the software, which is relatively easy to do.

There are other backup solutions, but I’ve used this one for almost 15 years and found it to be excellent. Unfortunately SyncBack only runs on Windows (it can be used in conjunction with SyncBackTouch to remotely backup other systems), but there are other solutions from other companies for MacOS, Linux, Android etc…, which can be found via Google.

I really do recommend following these guidelines for backing up your data. Saving a file every hour and backing up data every night is a small enough price to pay to ensure that you never (or rarely ever) lose valuable data.


VERY useful information and guidance, @elusien. Bookmarked for future reference.

1 Like

This guy sysadmins. :+1: Nice write up, @Elusien!

I do basically the exact same thing, except no golf club membership. Works great, and has bailed me out of trouble several times. I use FreeFileSync for the backups because I’m on Linux, but it’s the same concept.

I would also like to point out that there is backup software included in most operating systems now. Even though it may not work exactly like you want, it is a free option that is usually convenient:

  • Windows 10,11: File History
  • macOS: Time Machine
  • Linux: duplicity with GUI frontends such as “Backups” (aka deja-dup) in Ubuntu

This topic was automatically closed after 90 days. New replies are no longer allowed.