Flat sound waves on Audacity project


I am editing a podcast and have 6 different tracks with about an hour total of audio. Yesterday, my computer alerted me that my disk drive was full and that it couldn’t save my audacity project. I had saved it at 11:16am and assumed that this version would be preserved if I quit Audacity, so I upgraded my ICloud to 200gb thinking that it would give me the space I needed. Then I restarted my computer. When I turned it back on, Audacity asked me if I wanted to recover the project, and I hit yes. This resulted in my audio files being flattened within the project. I have experienced this before when the audio files were saved in a separate location from the AU project, and by reuniting the files, all was fixed. This time, they both appear in the ICloud, but the AU project is still flat audio.

When I open Audacity, I get this message.
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From reading how this was solved in the past, I am wondering if I can upload my files to a dropbox or zip drive and receive instructions on any renaming I need to do to get the files to function.

I’m working on a deadline and would love to resolve this. Thanks so much for your help.

Cloud storage is a huge problem for applications like Audacity. Due to synchronization, there is no guarantee that the data on “disk” (virtual) is the same from one minute to the next, but Audacity absolutely needs that guarantee to perform its internal bookkeeping. Unfortunately I think the chance that this project is unrecoverable is very high.

Where is the “NA episode 2!_data” folder now?
Where is the “NA episode 2!.aup” file?

I’ve screen-shotted where it appears on my desktop and within the Cloud. Should I change it so that it only exists on desktop? I also have an external drive I could see if I can transfer it to. It wasn’t able to register on the computer yesterday, I think due to the full disk drive. Is there any way that I could send you the files through dropbox or zip so you could take a closer look?
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Thank you, thank you!
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How big is the “NA episode 2!_data” folder?

It’s getting late here, and I’ll not be around much tomorrow. If you can make a backup copy of the “.aup” and “_data” folder onto your external drive while we try to work out if anything is recoverable, that could be a good idea.


There are about 15 folders within it and in total it says it’s 1.97 GB on the disk. But it doesn’t show the size when I look at the folder name. Does that indicate that the data is actually stored elsewhere?
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I can send anything to you asap following the directions on the other thread (i.e. zip or google drive).

Thank you so much, I’m so sorry it’s late where you are! Is there danger of trying to save the file on the external drive and replacing the older version, or it being permanently flat sound waves if I click one of the options here?
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Hello Steve.

I’m so sorry to keep bothering you. But I have an update. Now, when I try to open an audacity file on a whole separate computer, it says that I have orphan files, even though the file is right beside the audacity project on my external drive. I borrowed a friend’s mac, downloaded the same version of Audacity that I have on my own mac, then opened a file that isn’t even the one I was having trouble with. When I did this, I received the orphan pop up and realized many of the sound waves were flat, though some remained in a distorted version. I know you said you’d be unavailable but if there is someone else helping on the forum today, I would so appreciate advice. This project is due tomorrow and I am scared to work on backups if every one I open is immediately corrupted.

Thanks so much,

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How did you make your project backups ?

In particular what command did you use to make backup copies (assuming you used an Audacity command) ?

Where did you store/save the backups - same place as the live project or elsewhere ?


When I saved my project while working on it last, I saved it using command save, in its same folder on my desktop. I had a backup copy (of an older version) saved on my external drive. When I realized that my Mac’s hard disk was full (and that it wasn’t allowing me to put anything in the trash, or register my external drive so I could move some files) I upgraded my iCloud to 200GB. However, when I tried to open my project after restarting my computer, I was met with flat sound waves.

I renamed my backup (the old version still on the external drive) and also put the new, non-working version on the drive. Then I plugged the drive into another computer to see if the old version was still working, which it was. However, I saved and closed the old version, then opened the new, non-working one, which gave me the same messaging as on my own computer. When I closed it (hitting the button that says “close project immediately with no further changes”) and then opened the old version, that’s when I got the error message for it, and had several sound waves missing and distorted audio.

Thank you so so much for your help!!

So the backup earlier state opens OK and works - right?

But it looks like the later version may be toast I’m afraid.

So can you revert to the backup and the make the further edits that you need - on a computer that has plenty of disk space.

BTW with 2.4.2 current release (and 2.3.2 which you are using) there are a couple of ways to make backups as you work:

  1. File > Save Project > Save Lossless Copy of Project and save it o a new name
    This should save the backup and leave your current working project open

  2. File > Save Project > save Project As and save to a new name
    This will make a coop of the project in “new name”, close your existing active project leaving “new name” project open to work on

In the upcoming 3.0.o Audacity File > Save Project > Save Lossless Copy of Project is replaced by File > Save Project > Backup Project , which I think is a lot clearer.

Fingers crossed for you …


P.s. Steve is busy today cos it’s his birthday :sunglasses:

The backup is now giving the orphan block message, but there are still some audio waves showing up. Is there a way to save this version before it’s toast, also? I’ve also stopped sharing items from my desktop with ICloud and have it as an archived file on the computer instead.

Does the order in which I open my separate projects increase the risk that I will have orphan block files in ones that previously didn’t? That is what seemed to happen with my backup.
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Thank you so much for the advice with the lossless copies, I’ve saved my source interviews using this method and they all seem to be working fine.

I am just trying to prevent a new version from experiencing the same problems with orphan blocks. Is audacity just confused when I copy and past individual audio clips into my full project instead of importing whole interviews? I can definitely do that instead if it’ll decrease the risk.

Thank you, thank you!! I’m just trying to redo the big editing/combining portion of the project today and don’t want the rug pulled out from under me again.

That shouldn’t be the case the orphan blocks belong individually to each project - they are not shared. They can be copied across I believe if you you use Save As or Save Uncompressed Copy.

The orphan blacks are small six second chunks of one-channel audio that have somehow become detached from the project (crash or full disk as in your case). There’s usually not much one can usefully do with the orphans.

Top tip for the future: After recording your source interviews) or other recordings, export the recording as a WAV file first and ten Save the project - the WAV file makes an excellent single-file safety copy.

If you start with a project with no orphans you shoulkd be able to copy and paste into it without creating orphans.

Hopefully you should be OK, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you. Do let us know how it goes


BTW the new version of Audacity we are working on right now 3.0.0 has a totally different file structure, a single consolidated project file.

With this there will no longer be “orphan blocks” - so that somewhat scary orphans message will no longer appear.


BTW - why are you using 2.3.2 - the latest Audacity released version is 2.4.2

But do NOT think of trying to upgrade until this current production is finished - you don’t need to over-complicate the current task.

Oh and you do realize you’ve posted in the Window section rather than the macOS section of the Forum :wink:


Oh and BTW it is safe to Export such WAVs to the iCloud (and reipmport them from there if necessary) if you need to save space on your Mac - just don’t run live projects from the iCloud.


Do you know how to make a ZIP archive?

You’ve posted on the Windows forum board, but your screenshots look like Mac. What operating system(s) are you using?