Save and copy projects

By default, NVivo project files are saved in the current Windows user's Documents folder on the computer's C drive, but you can save them anywhere on your computer or network (however, see Projects on network drives, below, if saving to a network location).

Once a project file is created you can save it manually with File > Save, keyboard shortcut CTRL+S, or use the toolbar icon. We recommend you save frequently to protect your data—you can set up reminders to do this Save reminders.

By default, NVivo automatically creates project recovery files that serve as backups in case a project file is corrupted and cannot open Project recovery files.

NOTE  Recovery files cannot be opened directly into NVivo and recovery file creation can slow down your computer, so you may want to create manual backups in addition or instead Copy projects

It's a good idea to compact projects regularly Compact and repair projects. If a project won't open or performs poorly, try creating a new, clean project and importing the problem project into it Merge projects or import items from another project.

For NVivo Collaboration Server (previously NVivo for Teams) projects, you do not need to save—changes are saved automatically as you work. Backups can be configured on the Server Manager (to back up the server copy), however you can also create local backups manually for additional security Copy projects.

IMPORTANT  To help avoid project file corruption always make sure projects are completely closed before shutting down NVivo, and do not work with projects from USB drives—copy the projects to your computer and work on these Avoid project file corruption.

Save reminders

You can set regular reminders to save manually. By default, NVivo prompts you every 15 minutes.

  1. Click File > Options and open the Notifications tab.
    Enable or disable save reminders. If enabled, select the number of minutes between reminders.
  2. Click OK.

Projects on network drives

You can save projects on network drives, however, by default, when you open such a project a copy is saved locally on your computer in a temporary file. All saves are written to the local copy until you close the project, when the .nvp project file on the network drive is updated (hence, always ensure a project is fully closed before shutting down NVivo, or you could lose data).

Optionally, set NVivo to save to the network drive each time you save:

  1. Click File > Options.
  2. On the General tab, under Performance, for Update projects on network drives, click:
    1. On save to save the project file on the network drive each time you save, or
    2. On close to save all changes to a local temporary file and update the project file on the network drive only when the project is closed.

There is less likelihood of data loss with the 'on save' option, however saving may slow down your computer.

Recover projects on network drives

If you have configured to save project files on network drives 'on close' and a project file will not open or is older than the local temporary copy, NVivo automatically offers to open the local file.

If you open the local version you are prompted for a file name and location to save the project.

Copy projects

Use the copy function (similar to 'save as') to make a backup copy of your project or to take a snapshot of your project at a particular point in time.

  1. Click File > Copy Project.
  2. If required, click the Browse button next to the Project box to locate the project you want to copy.
  3. Under Copy to, select the project format you want—NVivo 12 Windows, Mac, or NVivo Server 11 project for a Collaboration Server (previously NVivo for Teams) project.
  4. Click Browse to name and set a location for the copied file (names cannot include any of these characters: \ : / * ? " < > | ).
  5. Click OK. A copy of your open project is saved at the selected location.

    The copy may take a few minutes. You can monitor the progress in the Status bar at the bottom of the NVivo window.


  • If you are working with a Collaboration Server (NVivo for Teams) project, you can use the copy function to create a standalone version of the project. Likewise, you can create a Collaboration Server version of a standalone project.
  • If you want to work with your project on the Mac platform, you can copy it to the NVivo 12 for Mac project format (.nvpx). Note that you may not be able to work with all your project items. Work with projects on Windows or Mac
  • If a Collaboration Server project exceeds the maximum size for standalone projects, you cannot copy and create a standalone project.

Avoid project file corruption

To help avoid corrupting project files follow the tips below:

  • Save regularly while working to avoid file corruption in case the computer shuts down abruptly or, if saving to a network drive, the drive becomes unavailable.
  • Always save projects before leaving the computer for any period of time—files can be corrupted when computers go to into power saving mode.
  • Always make sure projects are completely closed before shutting down NVivo.
  • If a project is saved in a folder that is synched to a cloud storage provider like Dropbox or Google Drive, turn off file synchronization while you are working on the project (or copy the project to a non-synched local folder to work on and copy back when finished).
  • Do not work on project files saved on USB sticks or external USB drives—instead, copy the projects to a local drive and work with them there. Copy back to the external drive when finished.
  • Check regularly for malware on the computer or drive where the project file is stored.