Project save and backup options

NVivo (Release 1) has a number of project saving and backup options in addition to manual saving (File > Save or keyboard shortcut CTRL+S).

NVivo Collaboration Server projects are saved automatically, however, this does not remove the need to create backups.

We recommend that you save and back up projects frequently to protect your data in case of power outages or hardware malfunction. You can:

While autosave vs. saving reminders is a personal preference, we recommend that in addition you create recovery files and manual backups.

NOTE  If a project file is saved on a network drive, by default, changes you make as you work are saved to a temporary file on your local computer. The project file on the network is not updated until you close the project. See Projects on network drives below for more information and configuration options.

Autosave or save reminders

You can select to autosave projects—automatically save projects after every action—or set regular reminders to save manually.

IMPORTANT  If you turn on autosave the Undo function is disabled.

Set autosave or save reminders when you first create a project (Create a new project) or at any time that the relevant project is open:

  1. On the File tab, open Info > Project Properties.
  2. On the Save and Recovery tab, turn on autosaving or set a time for save reminders (you can also turn reminders off).

Copy (and convert) projects

You can copy projects to serve as backups (as a precaution against data loss) or as historical records of projects at different times.

Also, use Copy Project to convert NVivo Windows projects into NVivo Mac or NVivo Collaboration Server projects.

  1. Open the File tab and select Copy Project.
  2. If the project to convert was already open it is selected in the dialog box—otherwise click Browse to select it.
  3. Under Copy to, select the project format you want—NVivo Windows, Mac, or Collaboration Server.

    To keep the project's current .nvp format, select NVivo - (Windows) R1 project.

  4. Beside the Location field, click Browse to select the location to save the converted project and name it.
  5. Click OK.

It can take a few minutes to copy projects—you can monitor the progress in the Status bar at the bottom of the NVivo window.


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

Project recovery files

You can set NVivo to create 'project recovery' files (.nvb) to help protect against data loss. If an error in an .nvp project file will not allow you to open a project, NVivo gives you the option to restore the project from a recovery file.

You can set how often to create recovery files, how many to keep, and where to keep them:

  • You can create recovery files never, every 30 minutes, or every 1 or 4 hours.

    IMPORTANT  Recovery files are only created when a project is saved—if you set to create a file every hour, a recovery file is created the first time NVivo is saved after 1 hour has passed since the last recovery file was created.

  • You can keep up to three recovery files—the most recent and the two before it.
  • By default, recovery files are saved to your personal Documents folder on the C drive. You can change where the files are stored.

    IMPORTANT  We strongly recommend that you save recovery files on a local drive—not a network drive or one that is automatically synched to cloud storage.

Set recovery file options when you first create a project (Create a new project) or at any time that the relevant project is open:

  1. On the File tab, open Info > Project Properties.
  2. On the Save and Recovery tab, edit the project recovery settings.

NOTE  Project recovery file creation can impact computer performance.

Projects on network drives

NVivo (Release 1) for Windows can work with projects saved 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.

IMPORTANT  With the default setting, always ensure that projects close properly before turning off your computer. If a project does not close properly you may lose data (because changes may not have been saved to the network drive).

You can change NVivo to update the original file version on the network drive each time you save:

  1. Select Application Options from the Welcome screen or, if a project is open, select the File tab and then Options.
  2. On the General tab, under Performance, for Update projects on network drives, click:
    1. On save to update the project file on the network drive each time NVivo is saved, 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.

Recovering a project saved on a network drive

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 choose to open the local version you are prompted for a location to copy the file to and to give it a new name.

If the local file fails to open and you have created recovery files, you will then be prompted to open these. Alternatively, if you have created backups manually with the copy function, locate and open one of these.