"Couldn't find the project data folder" easy fix not working

I’ve read through message boards where the same issue occurs, but my “Couldn’t find the project data folder” is from a different cause.

When I’ve saved and reopened Audacity files in the past, some are corrupted and lost, so to counter that I’ve been saving, then copying the file and pasting a twin next to it on my desktop. That way if the original is corrupted I can work off of it’s copy.

This has worked until today. I saved a recording titled ‘Alien’ to my desktop with its Audacity folder on the desktop as well. After this initial save I copied and pasted a second one next to it and it named it’s self ‘Alien - copy’. When I came back to begin editing I opened the original ‘Alien’ file and got the “Project check of “alien_data” folder detected 868 missing audio data”, etc etc, message and I chose “Close project immediately with no further changes” and began editing in the ‘Alien - copy’.

After saving periodically but leaving the project file open in Audacity for a day (another precaution so I don’t corrupt data), I needed to restart my laptop for internet reasons. My “Alien - copy” file was saved within Audacity so I closed it, and copy and pasted a third copy onto the desktop so that before restarting I had the project folder “Alien_data”, the original corrupted “Alien” file, the “Alien - copy” file that I edited with, and “Alien - copy -copy” file just in case “Alien - copy” corrupted when I reopened it. I restart, and both of the copied files open with the message “Couldn’t find the project data folder”, as well as the original “Alien” file being completely silenced when I chose the “Treat missing audio as silence (this session only)” option. The Folder seems to be intact and was never separated from the files, nor did I ever rename them manually.

Regardless, I tried the tricks described in these forums including manually renaming the files and folders identical names, and dragging the group in and out of folders together. I promised listeners to have my audio posted in time for Halloween, do I have a chance? Help is very very much appreciated!

I needed to restart my laptop for internet reasons.

You need to resolve those “internal reasons.” It is not normal for Audacity to trash show files left and right. Your machine is profoundly unstable.

The show name is listed inside the AUP file. Open it in a text editor and look for the listing projname=". The AUP file and the _DATA folder must have the same name and it has to be that name.

This is a project.

Copying your project files is dangerous. The AUP file still has the original filename buried inside, so they’re not really independent filesets. Project copies are best done from Audacity through Save Project As.

Even better if the show lends itself to it, Export as WAV (Microsoft) 16-bit. That will give you an independent, perfect quality sound file, but it doesn’t carry timeline structure, positions and other editing information. It’s just a sound file.

And you should do all of those things right after you find out why your computer is damaging files.


Almost no chance I would say. If these are unedited recordings you could try Recovering crashes manually but if you opened the projects more than once Audacity may have silenced the AU files. You should never copy AUP file and _data folder alongside each other because Windows renames them. If you must do manual copies, do it to a different folder.

If you don’t already have the current Audacity 2.1.2 release, please obtain it from http://www.audacityteam.org/download/windows. Having an old version of Audacity is not going to help stability.

Save Audacity projects to your own Music or Documents folder.

As Koz, said backing up by exporting to WAV is the best bet if saved projects are not reopening correctly.


Gale and Koz, thank you for the tips and information!

As far as an unstable laptop being the cause of the issues, Audacity has behaved this way for me on 2 separate laptops, my previous, and my current laptop which is a 2016 Asus purchased a month ago (my Audacity is the current 2.1.2 version). Not sure if my previous Audacity download was current, but it had the same issues. However!

My husband reread this forum post Koz made in March and I completely misunderstood it: https://forum.audacityteam.org/t/couldnt-find-project-data-folder/41955/1 I assumed that when Koz said to check the notepad text but “close without saving” I thought I needed to manually change the names via the desktop, but my husband manually changed it in the notepad anyway and it was as you said; it fixed the issue and I have my fully edited audio back! I will not be copy/pasting projects on the desktop anymore but I have to say, due to the saving and then corruption issues I’ve had with the program in the past, I’m weary of trusting the aup’s to be okay when I come back to them : ( But here’s hoping and thank you both for the fast responses, I really appreciate this info!

Those are different.

You changed the Windows filenames in an effort to create backups. He most likely changed the computer coding inside the AUP file to force it to look for your new changed filenames. That process is perfectly valid but brittle, so only those with golden fingers should attempt it.


Audacity projects are not as radically unstable as you have experienced.

I would recommend not leaving the projects open while the computer is unattended or sleeping. When you want to stop work, File > Close and save the changes. Don’t shut the computer lid until the project has finished saving (don’t move your mouse and look at the Status Bar at the bottom).

To resume work, your project should be listed in File > Recent Files… .

Back up to WAV too.


Yes, if you’re experiencing routine crashes or breaking your show files, that’s worth investigating. Computers don’t normally do that.

And by “unstable”, I don’t mean likely to trash your show with no notice. I mean manually patching your AUP file is ticklish.

– You should know you need to make the exact same patch in two places. If you don’t, your AUP will turn to trash.

– The AUP really is computer coding (XML), and so has to be exact. One spacebar in the wrong place and your AUP could turn to trash.

– Windows could “help you” by accident. If you save your properly corrected AUP file the wrong way, Windows may save it as MyMusic.aup.txt. and then hide that .txt part. That, too will turn your show to trash.

So while manually patching your AUP file can be done it’s best done by someone with perfect hands-on relation to the computer.