Crash & tracks lost/silent

Hi all -
I’m a pretty new audacity user, using the software to edit a podcast. I recently had Audacity crash while making adjustments to the graphic EQ. When I restarted and reopened, it would just stall/crash over and over when I tried to pick one of the “recover” options, so I’d have to force quit each time.
I suspected I needed to clean out a bunch of files on my hard drive, and yes, the crash was likely due to not having enough space. I also updated to the new version of audacity.
Anyway, after all these steps, I tried to reopen, but I the only one I was able to pick was “replace missing files with silence” options, thinking it would just do this with a few files. Unfortunately it looks like it replaced ALL the files in the data folder with silent files. So now I can finally open the project but it’s just silent sections that line up with where I did my edits, but there’s no actual sound in the whole project.
After reading a bunch of posts on the forum, I tried going into the data file and clicking on individual files, but it looks like they are indeed all silent files.
Luckily I have 99% of my original source files, so I’m guessing I need to just start over with a new project and delete the old one. But before I do, is there some other hidden location where there might be older versions of these data files?
Also, I did export an early version, but I did it as an mp3. Assuming that’s the case, it’s probably not useful, correct?
Is this just my lesson learned to backup my project every so often? And if so, is it better to use “back up project” or export as a WAV?
Thank you!

So the latest and greatest version of Audacity, 3.0.2, was released just a few days ago. We are hopeful that most of these missing files and associated problems are behind us.

For me, It is fine to listen to. If you plan to ever to any further editing on the file, it is best to return to the .WAV source. Others may differ.

From: Backing up Audacity projects:

If you have just made a recording it is strongly recommended that you immediately export your audio using File > Export > Export Audio… to WAV or AIFF (ideally to an external drive) as a safety copy before you start editing the project.

Use: File > Save Project > Backup Project… to save a backup copy of your project in its current state. This saves a copy of the current project as an AUP3 file, but with a new name. It is the safe and recommended way to make a safety backup copy of a project as you work on it.

I hope this helps. :smiley: