"Audacity failed to read" error message

I’ve read a few posts of people getting a similar error message to mine, but always in very different circumstances, so I decided to post.

I’m using Audacity 3.0.2 on Windows 10. Yesterday, I made a raw recording of my voice straight into Audacity through a Blue Yeti USB mic, about 4 minutes long. It sounded fine, saved fine. One clip on one track. I saved it on an SD card with plenty of space, on which I’ve recorded and edited dozens and dozens of Audacity projects in the past. (My work laptop’s hard drive is really small, so I do audio work straight on the SD card.)

Today, I opened the file and made a couple of small adjustments (compressor, trimmed the beginning of the clip). Then I imported a FLAC with background music on track 2 (something I’ve done dozens of times with this same FLAC file), time-shifted the original voice track a bit to the right, and started listening to the voice and music tracks together.

All was fine at first: I could hear my voice and the music. Then, suddenly, the original voice track went silent, even though the music track continued playing. The play bar kept moving forward, I could visually see the waveform of both tracks, but I was only hearing track 2. I stopped playback, hit the solo button on each track to check that it wasn’t user error, and the problem continued: everything on the voice track looked right but sounded silent, while everything on the music track looked right AND sounded right. I saved the project, closed it, and reopened it.

That gave me this error box labeled “File Error”: “Audacity failed to read from a file in D:.” That’s it, with an OK button and a ? button that takes me to https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/error_opening_or_reading_file.html (or, a local copy of that page). That’s it–no offer to recover anything, no other error. The project now only has one track: a single silent clip that I assume is the length of my original recording (4:15ish long), time-shifted just a bit to the right, just as I time-shifted my original voice recording after I imported the music track. When I say it’s a silent clip, it’s just a flat blue line, like what you get after you use the “silence audio selection” button. The imported music track is nowhere to be seen.

I can open other Audacity projects saved on the same SD card and they seem to work fine. I’ve rebooted and asked Windows to repair the SD card drive, but all seems to be fine. I’ve coped the AUP3 file to another location on the C: drive and tried to open it there, and it’s the same error.

It’s not the biggest deal–I can re-record 4 minutes of raw audio. But what’s happening?

Ugh–happened again today. Same thing: editing going fine, and suddenly some audio is silent, even though the waveform looks like it should be making sound.

I played around more before closing the file this time, and I realized that the silence issue isn’t across the board. For instance, some parts of a clip would play while others wouldn’t. Plus, if I tried to copy audio from parts of the clip that would play, I could paste it into another project file to save it, but if I tried to copy audio that wasn’t playing, I’d get an error pop-up saying something like, “Can’t find material on D: drive.” So to save as much as possible, I’d highlight a minute of audio and try to copy it; if I didn’t get an error, I’d paste that minute into another project to save it. If it gave an error, I’d highlight a smaller selection and try again, until it was small enough to let me copy.

Any ideas what’s going on here?

I would recommend you to free some space in your internal drive, so to be able to use it for recording.
It is a “real time maneuver” that requires something more stable than an SD card.
You may move everything to the card after saving the project.

I don’t know what to do with those parts of your project that got silent.