Audacity freezes and stops responding when I edit recordings

I am using Audacity 2.0.2 on a three-year-old laptop with Windows 7 (x64), I use it for recording long speeches (1-2 hours) and edit them. The problem is that every time I try to edit my recordings, it freezes for 5-10 seconds and stops responding. The kind of editing I usually do is cutting, copy and pasting bits or adding some other tracks to my recording, nothing too complicated. I’ve already tried uninstalling and reinstalling the program. It has been giving me this problem since I updated to the new version 2.x version. How can I solve this situation? Should I start using an older version of the program? Thank you for your help.

Are you sure that you are using the same work-flow as before?

Do you record the track then immediately start editing it?
Do you record the track, export a backup WAV file, then start editing the track?
Do you record the track, export it as a WAV file, close Audacity and then at a later time, import the WAV file and start editing it?
Something else?

I usually either edit it when I’m done recording or edit the .aup file. Should I export it and edit the .wav?

I would certainly recommend exporting a back-up WAV file immediately after recording. Back-ups are a waste of time… until you need one.

I’m trying to get a clear picture of what is happening.
Do you mean that when you do an edit, Audacity “freezes” for 5-10 seconds and then performs the edit (and is still working), or that when you do an edit, Audacity freezes, then stops responding altogether and you have to force-quit to shut down Audacity?

It freezes for a few seconds and then starts working again. I’ve tried editing the imported .wav files now and the problem is less frequent (1 in every 10 cuts or so, instead of every time I try editing something) so I’ll consider it a small victory! Thank you very much for your help!

What I normally do with long recordings is to split them into smaller sections, say up to an hour duration. I find that this makes everything more responsive and quicker because the computer is not required to manage such a huge amount of data. You can export part of a track by selecting (say half) of the track and using “File > Export Selection”.

I’m not sure why Audacity 2.0.2 should appear any slower than your old version - it may be because 2.x writes more “history” data (which vastly improves automatic crash recovery) though the effect of that should be minimal. It could be that your hard disk has less space on it now than before so that the hard drive sometimes spends more time looking for space to write data (try making more space and defragmenting the drive to see if that improves performance).

I think this is known about and started getting worse from about half way through the Beta series. From Missing features - Audacity Support

In projects containing an hour or more of total audio, there may be a delay compared to previous versions of Audacity when:

Creating a label or label track
Dragging selections with the keyboard (Workaround: Hold SHIFT then press left or right arrow a few times per second instead of holding the arrow key)
Dragging sample points with Draw Tool
Using Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete or Silence Audio.

Breaking the project up (exporting half of it for later editing , or File > New then cut half of the audio and paste into the other project) will help. Also, try Tracks > Mix and Render - it will probably have a similar speed gain to working on a newly imported file.

By the way (as I said recently elsewhere), Vista and 7 defragment themselves in the background when the machine is idle, so normally all you need to is check that the defrag is scheduled to occur when the computer is switched on.


normally all you need to is check that the defrag is scheduled to occur when the computer is switched on.

But you’re not using it? Wouldn’t performing a defrag in the middle of a production session or recording slow things down?

Also performing a defrag manually is an adventure. It never completes like the old ones did. It keeps iterating [Pass Number Three] and you have to eventually run out of patience and stop it.


Yes, as I said, it defrags when the computer is detected as “idle”.

If a scheduled defrag starts then the computer becomes active again (for example you start recording or editing an Audacity project), the defrag is paused until the computer becomes “idle” again.

If your computer is turned off at scheduled defrag time, or is in use after that time until you turn the machine off, then because defrag is a standard “Windows Scheduled Task” with “Run task as soon as possible after a schedule start is missed” enabled, defrag will run the next time the system is started (if there’s a period of inactivity in that new session).

If the computer is never idle in a Windows session, then the scheduled defrag will never happen and you will have to manually defrag just like on XP and earlier.

I’ve seen it taking a long time too in that way. I’ve never seen a convincing answer from a Microsoft support representative about it. I assume it to be extreme fine tuning that will not impair performance much if not completed, or it cannot access the remaining files as they are in use and it doesn’t say so. And since Windows 7 after SP1 no longer defrags in Safe Mode, there may not be much you can do about that.

Either way, for most users, defragmentation is not likely to be the issue that it was in XP and earlier.


but as I understand it, being very short of space can be an issue because the drive needs to skip about all over the disk to find empty space to write the data (much slower than sequential write). It may be a false intuition, but it seems like a sensible idea to manually defragment after clearing a lot of junk from an almost full drive?

Every action on files is likely to be quicker on an emptier drive, undoubtedly, and (to some extent) on a defragmented drive.

Obviously the defragmentation itself doesn’t create any meaningful extra space, but it takes longer when there isn’t much space.

Assuming you have defrag scheduled on Vista and 7, then unless you really never have the computer idle, I doubt there will be significant benefits from manual defrag. In the case where you just cleared out junk from the hard drive, if scheduled defrags were already keeping the drive defragged, the files that had not been deleted would already have been in sequential clusters (or nearly so). So as I understand it, this should not be vastly adding to defragmentation nor greatly reducing speed, especially considering space had been released by the clean up.

Whenever I’ve done a major junk clearing exercise on Vista or 7 and gone to look at defragmentation, even after “analyzing” the drive there has either been no defragmentation or a few percent. So I gave up worrying about it.

The only thing I would say is that if you have FAT32 formatted drives, which is not very likely on Vista or 7, those are more prone to defragmentation than NTFS formatted, so may want monitoring more closely.