Clicked "Don't Save" on an mic recording in Audacity thinking I already saved it, turns out I never saved it once

Yup, I made a really stupid mistake and I am definitely paying the price.
I am super desperate to get this audacity file back if it’s possible, I am tech-Savvy so I’ll go to far-end lengths to get this back. It was a 3 hour long audacity file/audio with a high quality mic so I’m worried there’s no way of getting it back since it’s largely sized.

Please somebody respond on ways I can restore this file. I am very desperate. I have spent the last 3 hours researching and trying failed attempts on getting it back.

You never said the magic words “and I closed Audacity.” Once you close Audacity, it flushes its cache and UNDO.

You also didn’t say which Audacity.

Someone will correct me.


My bad for the lack of clarity, thanks for responding.

Yes, I closed audacity.

Did not know there’s multiple Audacities.

From the sound of your response it seems I have ran out of hope. Not sure what you mean by UNDO? What does that mean?

So none of the data ever gets written ever on the Disk Drive instead of the cache? Because if any data got saved on the Main Disk Drive then it would be possible to use 3rd party software to recover the lost files. I also used audacity 3.3.2.

UnDelete? You never said you were on Windows.

When you do an edit, Audacity saves your Whole Show. If you need to Edit > UNDO, it just loads the last show. It doesn’t try to figure out which effects you used. It does that repeatedly until it runs out.

That’s why Audacity isn’t a good editor for enormous productions. The instant it runs out of internal memory, it has to start stuffing files onto the hard drive and your editing speed turns to mud.

One restriction for UnDelete programs is they work best if you make no changes or save any work after the work you want to rescue. Windows flags the last save as Available Space. And you’re right, what it really does is delete the filename and address. Not the data.

This also works best if you start out with a defragmented and perfectly clean and well-behaved hard drive.

So if you’re neat and tidy, you’re unlikely to need UnDelete in the first place.


Right, so what you’re saying is that some of the recording would have been lost on audacities volatile internal memory but since it stuffs files on the hard drive it has to be saveable somewhere on the PC therefore some of the data should be recoverable?

If that’s true, where exactly. (i.e what folder?) does Audacity stuff the files when it runs out of room on the volatile internal memory since it should be recoverable?

Have you ever used one of those UnDelete programs?

I have a library analogy.

Say the library gets a new book. There isn’t space for the whole book, so the library rips it into pieces and stores the pieces wherever they will fit—writing down the locations as they go.

When you want that book, the librarian hands you the location list. Have a happy day.

When the library deletes the book, the librarian and the list go home. The fragments are still there on the shelf…somewhere.


Don’t know. This is where we wait for one of the heavier forum elves.


Yes I have.

When the UnDelete programmes have scanned the full drive they are able to track the original location of any of the files that are displayed.

Do you know where Audacity generally stores the data for audio files for when they get too big for the internal memory? If you do know I’d love to know as it may be a huge helping hand!

Ah, just saw your latest response, well shoot, I shall wait in anticipation, thanks for the help kozikowski!

I keep waiting for one of the other elves to post saying, “That’s wrong, they don’t work that way any more.”

There are problems with the newer Audacity versions where you save a Project exactly correctly and then go back later and it won’t open.

There’s cringe problem.

That’s why I recommend Exporting your work as Perfect Quality WAV (or equivalent) files. They are much more robust and likely to survive.


The only note-worthy findings I’ve made is what I recovered with the UnDelete tool from Users > myname > AppData > Local > audacity > SessionData:

They are random files which definitely have something to do with the recording I made but are definitely not the recordings themselves.

I just got zero knowledge of how these files function for the unsaved audacity audio.

Blow out that display so we can see the whole filename(s).


Looking at the file sizes (the right-hand column). They aren’t very big.

Those are all in KB. Thousand Bytes.

One minute of stereo WAV comes in at 10,584 KB, or 10.6MB. Million Bytes.

Those may be pointers, titles, or labels for the show during production. That’s another reason I want to see the whole filename.

Once we have the filenames, we may be able to search around in Windows Terminal to find other parts of the show.

That’s pretty scary.

Screen Shot 2024-04-11 at 8.47.24 PM

This is the Mac version.
Yours will be the more traditional white characters over a black field—I’m assuming.


You see in the second line where it says koz$ ls -al

Koz$ is me and I typed list all the files where we are right now in the long format. After that is a partial list just for illustration. There isn’t much that hides from Terminal.

So of the three people you are playing: announcer/performer, recording engineer, and Producer, you now get to play Producer (upper case intentional). What are you going to do if the show doesn’t come back?


These are the files in a more readable format:

I did some searches but did not know exactly what to type, do you have any ideas on what I should exactly search?

I opened the 512 byte New Project 2024-04-11 17-46-14 N-1.aup3unsaved-journal file in hopes that I would find any pointing details and I found this which is interesting.

I don’t know how to view it properly though.

I’m going to upload all these files as a zip file if you want to look:

I contacted a senior forum elf. He may be able to shed more light on this.


Cool, thanks!

Unfortunately, the chance of recovering the project is practically zero.

In Audacity 3.x, projects are SQLite database files with the file extension “.aup3”. For efficiency, the database uses a temporary file with the file extension “.wal”. The database file itself is updated periodically when changes are “committed”. On closing without saving, Audacity cleans out (deletes) the database and the temporary files.

Even if you successfully recover the database, it is very likely that it will be corrupt, and even if you manage to fix the corruption it is very likely that most of the audio data will be missing since it was never saved.

Personally I would bite the bullet, accept that it has gone forever, and start again.

If you want to try recovering and fixing (probably without success), there is a free tool called DB Browser for SQLite that allows you to look inside SQLite databases and fix some problems.