Blank tracks after saving

I’m using Audacity 2.4.2 on a Mac running Big Sur 11.5.2

Audacity crashed in the middle of me editing a podcast. I figured it was no big deal as I’d been saving regularly. Unfortunately when I reopened all my tracks just showed a flat line and had no sound. The popup window mentioned something about “orphaned files” and that they weren’t part of the recording or something like that. Not sure what was going on but I lost several days of work! Can anyone help??


I figured it was no big deal as I’d been saving regularly.

Audacity 2.4.2’s idea of saving regularly is to keep updating and changing the one current project. It doesn’t do a “time line” backup like your Mac Time Machine does.There is no going back four or five backups and rescue the show. Audacity 3 has File > Save Project > Save Backup. That will give you a separate Project, frozen moment in time, divorced from the current work—assuming you used a separate file name.

We can wait for Jademan to post. He has gotten some sound work back from a crashed Audacity 2 project.

It is recommended that you Export all original sound recordings as WAV (microsoft) 16-bit sound files before you start to edit with them. That’s the backup if something happens to the Project during editing. It’s not crazy-hard to rescue a clean recorded Project, but rescuing an edit is pretty insane. A while ago, the Audacity parents changed the Project file structure so the file names were intentionally scrambled—even on a fresh, clean recording. It solved a data management problem, but it made disaster rescue much more difficult.

We’ll see what Jademan has to say about it. Do you have access to a file posting service like Drop-Box? He may need you to post your Project, both aup file and _data folder, and it won’t fit on the forum or eMail.


And speaking of Time Machine, if you do use Time Machine on your Mac, that may let you “Step Back” to an earlier edit—before the crash. It’s a little odd to get the swing of how it works, but it does work—if you set it up and use it.

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I do manual backups, but its only about every two weeks and I do it on an external drive. I do save WAV files of everything from my legacy experiences before Audacity. So I would be collecting all my backup interviews, music files, and voice-overs, and and re-creating the show from those original files.

You might consider doing that in the future whether or not Jademan can get your show back.


As koz is egging me on… I’ll take a look, but don’t get your hopes up.

First, read this thread:

Then, if you are still interested in pursuing this, zip up all of your related files (see thread) and up load the zipped file(s) to a file sharing service. Then post a link or PM it to me.

Don’t expect anything to happen for a least a week - development is still in progress on this project, and I have conflicting priorities.

Do you have access to a Windows machine? That will make things a lot easier. As in “a lot easier” for me.


You didn’t mention a time limit or deadline in your post. If there is one, you should put on your Producer’s hat and sort the best way to work around it.

If you have no backups or other safety files or work, then start the next show, after you figure out why the current one crashed.


Are you using iCloud, Google Cloud, or other internet storage system? External hard drives? Household network storage? Audacity hates those. Audacity has to work with clean, fast, local, internal drives because it uses them as part of the real-time production process. It’s hard to match up musical rhythm and beats, for one example, when the backing track is coming from a cloud drive three time zones away and it takes it a half-second to do anything.

Are you filling up your hard drive? It’s easier to do than you think. For some edits, Audacity forms an UNDO point so you can change your mind and get rid of that effect or filter. But it makes the UNDO by saving a copy of the whole show. So it didn’t just memorize that little effect you did, it saved a copy of the whole two-hour podcast. Possibly many times.

Do you have a picture of your internal drive in the upper right corner of the desktop?

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Right Click (or Control+Tap) > Get Info.

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Look at that once before you start working, and then again when you get a good way into production. You can start getting concerned when Available starts sinking into the double-digit range, particularly if you have about a million other things running in the background. Most of that extra data goes away when you stop Audacity. Neither Audacity Projects nor the System saves UNDO.

That’s important. If you open up an Audacity Project, Edit > UNDO will not be available.

Do you keep Zoom in the background—or even active—while you’re working? That’s super not recommended. Zoom and others make real-time changes to your Mac sound services. It doesn’t tell you and you can’t stop it as long as they’re running. It’s possible for both Audacity and Zoom to want your microphone (for example) and Audacity is going to lose.

If you really offended the sound angels, you can close Zoom and it will leave some sound settings behind.