Autosave Crash Deleted Entire Project Folder

Greetings. Thanks for your consideration.

I save often; every 15 - 30 minutes. I received a phone call and manually saved my progress. When I returned several minutes later, I listened to 30 seconds of my project (to regain bearings) and prepared to make an edit. I suddenly received an error message (before I had made any changes) that there was a save-error (autosave) and the session immediately crashed. That’s not usually a problem, no matter the program you’re running, as long as you’ve saved recently; however, in this case, my entire project folder has… disappeared. Everything is gone. The project no longer exists.

That is, Audacity auto recovery told me I can recover it (“Some projects were not saved properly the last time Audacity was run. Fortunately, the following projects can be automatically recovered:” [insert my project name here]. But then it gives me consecutive error messages saying the folder does not exist: “Couldn’t find the project data folder” and “Could not load file”. I’ve attempted to find it in my temp files, even hidden data files and individual audio files, but nothing of my current project exists. The program session itself crashed, but every save I made under this project name has disappeared? How is this possible? It can delete my entire folder?

I’ve scoured the forums and seen similar messages for projects that were each recovered/solved. These don’t seem to apply to my case. I’ve been working on this project for approximately four weeks. First, has anyone ever heard of auto-save breaking a project? Deleting the entire folder while you were mid-session? Next, is there any way I can recover this project? This feels surreal. The whole folder is deleted regardless of my compulsive save habit? I refuse to accept it.

Thanks again for your consideration.

I feel your pain - really. Yes, Audacity’s crash recovery is usually very reliable, but computer systems are imperfect.
There’s a long topic here about a similar issue, and many steps to see if recovery was possible (spoiler - it wasn’t):

Some years ago I was working for a company that specialized in media production with fast turnaround time. At any one time I could have 30 or more separate client projects on the go. My main machine was a purpose built PC connected to a mixing desk and a rack of mass storage devices (RAID drives). The PC did not need to be particularly fast, but it did need to be rock solid, so there were few compromises in the selection of components.

Even so, PCs are unreliable. Live interviews were always done on at least two machines at the same time - usually the PC and a backup on a solid state recorder. Recording was only about 5% of the work - the rest was editing, documenting and back-up, back-up, back-up. It’s one thing to lose half an hour’s work, but catastrophic to lose a client’s entire project which could be several weeks work and unrepeatable.

At least once per hour I would create a NEW backup of the entire project - not overwriting the most recent, but a totally new backup. For projects that required lots of work I would have a series of projects:

On completion of the project, the most recent version, plus all source materials and documentation would be archived with the client’s job details, and only then would the interim back-ups be deleted.

For home use it is not usually necessary to be a rigorous as that, but when working on big projects it is still important to have an effective backup strategy to protect against disaster.
Also, ensure that you are using the latest version of Audacity: