Accidentally Deleted Everything In A Project And Saved

I have been working on a very complex twenty minute audacity project, put in about sixteen hours of work, and then somehow everything in the project was deleted right before I saved and closed the project to go to bed for the night. Recovering six second clips or recovering everything in succession as one long wav will do nothing to help me. Is there anything at all I can do to recover the project? With all the files in the proper times with the proper effects and amplification and various audio adjustments? To revert to an earlier save? I’ve been working on it all day and feel sick to my stomach that all my hard work was for nothing and I will have to start from scratch… If you know of anything at all I can do to recover the project please please please help me…

then somehow everything in the project was deleted right before I saved and closed the project to go to bed for the night.

I don’t understand that one. Are you guessing that’s what must have happened? Did the Project look and sound OK when you saved?

Which Audacity version do you have? I’m using 2.1.2.

Do you close down the computer to power off, or put it to sleep? Or nothing. Just leave it on?

Do you continuously Save each edit over the old Save? Like you have the same project name you had days ago?


If you saved the project empty after seeing the loss, and ignored the warnings about doing so, then everything’s gone I am afraid. Or do you mean the waves disappeared a split second before you saved? Did you try Edit > Undo?

Does the AUP file you saved reopen empty?

Do you have Windows or other backups? You really need to be doing Save Project As… every hour with different save names to give yourself incremental backups to fall back on.


There were a ton of tracks, so the top few naturally looked empty from where I was in the project because they weren’t being used at that point. I carried my laptop into my room and when I closed the project it asked if I wanted to save. I said yes, and it took forever to do save even though I had just saved shortly before. Started panicking because it was taking so long and I was wondering if there was some big change made I hadn’t noticed. I immediately reopened the project and all of the tracks were empty, as if I had hit Cntrl+A and then Delete. I understand that I should’ve checked and played the project before confirming the save. I’ve just been doing this for four years and felt comfortable that I knew what I was doing because nothing like this has happened before. I know that I made a mistake, I’m just hoping there is something I can do to make rebuilding this easier and not take me sixteen monotonous hours which I don’t have to spare. :frowning:

I am using 2.0.5.

I did not put the computer to sleep or turn it off, but left it on all night.

I do continuously save with the same name. It has never caused problems before, but I guess I will save two different versions from now on.

I didn’t receive any warnings. I couldn’t Undo, because I was closing the project.

The AUP file reopens with all of the tracks present, but the tracks are completely empty, as if I had hit Cntrl+A and then Delete.

I have Windows. I don’t have any backups. The files are so large and it would take so long and take up so much space to save a new copy after every edit and after 4 years nothing like that has ever happened before so it never felt necessary. I guess I will be saving multiple copies of the same project from this point on.

I’m trying to wrap my head around this. This is a little dense to me but hopefully I can figure it out. The project didn’t crash, though, it was saved before closing. The AU files that they want me to rename seem to still be there, though. Wondering if I understand this correctly… In the project_data folder, there’s a sole folder titled e00, with a bunch of folders inside it, titled d00, d0a, d0b, d0c, d0d, d0e, d0f, d01, d02, d03, d04, d06, d07, d08, d09, d10, d11, d16, and d17. Do I go through each of those folders individually, sorting items by Date Modified, and then rename all of them? Does it matter what they’re already named? Why are they suggesting renaming them b001, b002, etc.? Is the “b” arbitrary? Do I have to copy the files into another folder and put them in Date Modified order there and rename them there? Or just rename them in each individual folder?

I posted that in case there was something in there that could be helpful. That process is for shows where the _DATA folder was OK, but the AUP project manager went missing or was damaged. That’s not what you have.

If you have a massive project, that’s not going to work anyway. That process tries to rescue the work in six second chunks…for each track. You could be there for years. Also given what happened, you might be trying to rename blank folders and tracks. If you drill down far enough in each folder, you should get to little AU files. Those are real, tiny sound files and should open and play in Audacity. I’m betting they don’t.

Exporting each track as a stand-alone WAV file may not have worked, either. If you have tracks with “nothing” (as contrasted with silent audio), special considerations must be made to export those so they open in good shape later. We recommend creating a silent audio track longer than the whole show and export that in addition to one particular track. The silent track will get mixed with the show track and “fill in the holes.” From your description of the show, that could take days.

There is one thing you can do with a massive show. Copy the whole show to dated folders on a thumb drive or other external drive. Use ISO dates and do not use slash marks.


That will give you a whole show backup once a day in case of disaster. If you use separate folders like that, you will not have to change the show name.

Continuing in this vein, it’s possible to configure Audacity so it uses external music or sound files directly and not make personal, internal copies of them. That used to be the Audacity default and it just killed neat and orderly people who “cleaned up” all those extra sound files and instantly trashed their show. It’s possible to configure Audacity to work that way even now and you have to know to back up all those sound files in their correct folders and locations, too.


If you do go the separate drive and folder route, remember this is an Audacity Project…

It doesn’t matter where you put them, but they have to stay together. Close Audacity and use Windows Copy. If you don’t, Audacity might be tempted to use the copy as the current Project.

And remember use Windows to unplug a thumb drive. Don’t just grab it and run.


It’s possible the problem was related to not having enough disk space on the drive you were working on. Each of those editing actions you were doing take up space for undo and redo until you close the project.

Using an old version of Audacity doesn’t help. Although I assume it is not your problem, in 2.0.5, any 44100 Hz track or clip over 13.5 hours long reopens empty (at higher sample rates, the track limit is shorter, for example about 3.3 hours at 176400 Hz). You don’t see that issue until you reopen the project. That bug is fixed in 2.0.6 and later. If that is the problem, you should have been notified about “orphan block files” when you reopened the project, and 2.0.6 or later might be able to open the project correctly.

If you don’t need every single track to be editable, you can SHIFT-click on the Track Control Panels to select multiple tracks then Tracks > Mix and Render those tracks to one track. In 2.1.3 (when released), CTRL-click adds individual tracks to the selection, not SHIFT-click.


I’m a little confused, this is all way too technical for me. Is this advice for moving forward, and not fixing the issue at hand?

Also, I was under the impression that the recovery link you shared directs me to a program which will put the six second clips back together for me. I have all the AU files, which load into audacity as six second clips, separated. Is there any way to piece them back together to at least reform the audio that I had There are 3,930 of them, so doing it manually would be a little insane. Perhaps I misread, but I thought I gathered that the free trial of Xplorer2 would do that?

It wasn’t an issue with disk space. I have edited projects much bigger and longer and more complex with no problems. Somehow the contents of the project got deleted right before I saved by sheer bad luck (I tend to have that a lot with computers… unexplainable things happen to me all the time.)

I did receive the “orphan block files” notification upon reopening the project. The orphan files (I’m assuming those are the 6 second clips) are all still there. There’s just 3,930 of them, and I am wondering if there is any way to put them back together, or organize them in a way so that i can manually do it without searching through a randomly assorted 3,930 piece puzzle. :frowning: Best case scenario, it would be awesome to have my project back to the way it was, but if I could at least get the edited audio files back and rebuild the project with them manually it would save me, like, twelve hours of work which I don’t have time for. :frowning: So sick to my stomach over this. I don’t understand what the point is of not only cutting the audio up into 6 second clips but shuffling them throughout 21 different folders.

I don’t really understand what you are advising I do by SHIFT-clicking on the Track Control Panels and Mixing and Rendering them into one track… is this advice for moving forward with future projects, or for recovering what I’ve lost? Because there is no audio in the tracks anymore at all. I would prefer them each to be separate so I can still do further editing, but if it’s the only way to recover my audio I don’t mind.

What I’m not understanding, is when I do this (as advised by the recovering tutorial):

“Open Audacity’s temporary or project _data folder in your system file manager. Sort the files by timestamp order (earliest first), then rename them using a consecutive alphanumerical sequence, lowest number first. An arrangement looking something like this should work: 15:56:02 15:56:02 15:56:10 15:56:10”

How am I supposed to rename them all? If they’re all supposed to stay in their respective folders, do I just sort them by Date Modified within the folder and then rename them numerically? Do I stop counting and start over again at 1 when I go to the next folder? Do I need to have a “b” there, or can it just be numbers? Is the “B” for the “B” folder, or is that just an arbitrary letter they chose? I don’t understand at all what I am supposed to do.

the contents of the project got deleted right before I saved by sheer bad luck

That’s pretty deadly right there.

I may be able to save you a lot of work. If you can see some of the little AU files, try to play them in Audacity (but don’t save anything). Because of the way your Project failed, I’m betting they’re all silent. If they are, no shuffling, arrangement or renaming of the folders is going to bring the show back.

Disaster Recovery is valuable if Audacity crashes before it has a chance to save anything. In your case, Audacity thinks you cleared all your tracks intentionally, and then it exited gracefully.

I also don’t know any reason it would clear your tracks—even by accident. As you observed, it’s normally a bunch of key clicks to get there. That’s why the suggestion was made that the machine is starting to run out of room. Then Audacity could become unstable and anything is possible.

Another point. Audacity records The Whole Show multiple times as UNDO. So each time you make any change at all, another copy of the whole show is made. That adds up very quickly. When you closed Audacity, it would have gone around and carefully cleaned up all those UNDOs, so it would look like you have tons of room on your machine, when in reality, maybe not so much.


Moving forward. If you had a backup from an hour ago, you would be much farther forward than now.

Those processes only work with unedited recordings where those AU files are timestamped according to their position on the Timeline. Once you start editing, that is no longer the case.


All that is irrelevant, so you don’t need to understand it. You don’t have an unedited recording.


If fairpointpodcast hit the overlong tracks bug, which has not been confirmed either way, the AU files will not be silence. But even so Audacity will open the project as silence if fairpointpodcast stays with 2.0.5. Fairpointpodcast may have “some” chance of opening the project without the orphans error if they upgrade, ideally to 2.1.2 from Audacity ® | Download for Windows.

Even if there is then no “orphans” error, there may be other problems.


What we’re dancing around here is you have no show. Start over.

In the mature industries, Crash and Burn is built into the Production. It’s Very Important to know whether to abandon old work or not in order to waste the least time. That’s the Production Budget thing.

The very worst productions get stuck in the middle—half the show comes back. I don’t think you’re going to be that lucky.


How long are the tracks and what is their sample rate in Hz? Look above the Mute/Solo buttons for the Hz value.

Unless you have tracks or clips that exceed the limits I described, the orphan files are due to some other problem, and my suggestion about using later than Audacity 2.0.5 won’t let Audacity open the project properly. Either way, please upgrade Audacity. Using old software versions may be a reason for your bad luck.

If Audacity 2.1.2 does not open the project correctly, please attach the AUP file and attach the complete log from Help > Show Log… after opening the project. Please see here for how to attach files: Don’t hold out any great hopes though.

Yes, moving forward. Making it easier for you to see all the tracks in the project.