Lost all audio in AUP project file

Audacity Version: 2.4.1
OS: Windows 10, version 1809

Hello, I just lost all of the audio in every sample i have in my .AUP project file.
The project file retained the name of every sample, the length, and the gain…but there is no waveform, thus no sound. just a flat blue line.
I can even apply effects such as a speed change and the sample will shorten, or i can amplify it…and it will show the max amplification before clipping. So it is as if Audacity knows everything about the samples, but lost the actual sound for them.
I attempted to import the associated .AU files from the project_data folder, and they also contain no audio information.
Here is the last thing i recall:
Audacity crashed, and I made a successful recovery. I saved the file and began working again. Then the DEBUG REPORT “AUDACITY” dialog box appeared. I get this a lot. But this time, a massive amount of small dialog boxes appeared, each stating the same thing about about every sample in the project. I can’t recall exactly what the error was, but it was something about "the sample “xxxxx” cannot “???” there were probably about 60 or so of those boxes. i just kept closing them and then Audacity crashed again. I opened Audacity again, but this time there was no recovery dialog box available, and all of the samples lost their sound. I have read through so many of your FAQs and tips for recovery…but I have a feeling my project may be destroyed and lost forever.

  1. All of my other projects are still fully intact.
  2. Is there anything you can do on your end, if I bundled up my project data and sent it to you?
  3. What did i do that caused this?
    Thank you very much for reading this, and any help would be greatly appreciated.

So it is as if Audacity knows everything about the samples, but lost the actual sound for them.

That could mean the Project Manager AUP file is OK, but the sound in the _DATA folder is not.

So that’s the end of the show.

Do you have the original sounds, interviews, or music as WAV files or other backups? Could you reconstruct the show if you had to?

Are you using Network or Cloud Drives as part of your show instead of casual non-Audacity backups? Are you running Audacity from a network drive?

Constant crashing and recovery is the warning. What you have now is what it was warning about.


i have all the original samples, but they have been filtered/modified/compressed so much that i could never recreate what i had. :cry:
it was a WIP for about 3 months. I am not running Audacity on a network, just my HDD. i have no backup…the joke is on me.
the only thing that i have is the MP3 mixdown (to listen to it in my truck to get ideas)…but the track is not finished.
I clearly need to start backing up my project data and lossless .WAV files to the cloud. This has never happened before, and i have been using Audacity for over 10 years.
I guess my only option is to import the MP3 and append the rest of the track in Audacity to make it complete. Unfortunately, the sound is not going to be lossless.
Can you give me any advice on the best/cleanest sounding way to convert an MP3 to WAV so that i can finish my project? I will do whatever it takes.
It was encoded in Audacity in Joint Stereo at 198 kbps.

What do you think happened? how could all the waveforms go flat and have no sound?

Do you think the team at Audacity might want to attempt to recover my data, in the interest of programming and debugging?

This has never happened before, and i have been using Audacity for over 10 years.

Let’s wind this back to the first posting. The impression I get from you is that Audacity crashes all the time and this is the first time it failed to recover. Or did you mean to say this project only has been unstable.

In either case, a crash should have triggered a rush to save safety backups of, at minimum, everything you would need to recreate the show from the beginning if the current edit failed…which is what it did.

the team at Audacity might want to attempt to recover my data, in the interest of programming and debugging?

What triggers the developers is thousands of users having the same problem at the same time. You have an unstable show on one machine. That’s what the forum does.

I’m the last person to drop everything and update instantly when a new version comes out, but you are 6 versions behind. 2.4.1, 2.4.2, 3.0.0, 3.0.1, 3.0.2, and they just released 3.0.3.

I used 2.4.2 for production for a long time.

Again, going back to the first message, if 2.4.1 is stable and you regularly crank out perfect work with no crashing, then I probably wouldn’t update, either, or at the very least, I’d keep the old one around until the new one proved itself. On Macs, I install Audacity in a folder rather than directly in /Applications. That lets me go back to older ones if I need to. I have one machine with 12 versions stacked like that. I’m perfectly clear that’s dangerous and I wouldn’t do a show on earlier versions. But since I’m a forum elf, that’s come in handy.

You can’t recover from MP3. Once you make one, all the deletions, tonal management, and swapping damages are burned in. If you make an MP3 from an MP3, the damage just keeps getting worse. By the time you get to three MP3s, the show is usually trash.

You can open up one of your MP3s in Audacity, use it in production and export it as WAV or other uncompressed format with no further damage. What you can’t do is make another MP3 from that show and neither can anybody else. MP3 is a time bomb.

When I shoot original material, I immediately make a perfect quality WAV of the work and if I can, a backup. I still have copies of show recordings from years ago. Sometimes Producers show up and want to know if I kept any of that stuff. Yes, I did.

I don’t remember which version did this, but it is now possible to File > Save Project > Save a Backup Project without scrambling rules or ownerships. Older Audacity versions used to save a project and just kept stepping on that one project again and again. People thought they were saving multiple individual shows they could go back to at any time. They weren’t. Now they can.

Starting in 3.0.0, Audacity stopped using the AUP manager file and large _DATA folder of the same name with all the sound snippets in it. Audacity now makes a single AUP3 file with everything in one place.


Thank you so much for the very insightful and extremely helpful responses. That’s funny that you referred to yourself as a forum elf :laughing:
Your first impression is correct. This was the first time Audacity failed to recover.
I know i need to change my workflow. backups are now a part of everyday life. i failed to do that, and now i paid the price.
I just installed v3.0.3. That is an exciting development that the project file no longer relies on all those .AU chunks of data, and that everything is embedded into the now “AUP3” file.
And i agree that the MP3 format will become deprecated and a thing of the past.
The events of this “tragedy” are like so many other things in life. The warning signs were there, but i ignored them. I continued to work in an unstable environment, pushing on without thinking of the possible consequences. Huge mistake on my part. I take my music very seriously, and this has been a real punch in the gut.
Thank you again for your help and advice.

That’s funny that you referred to yourself as a forum elf

We come at midnight, fix your shoes, and go home. What would you call us?

This was the first time Audacity failed to recover.

But it crashes all the time. It should not crash all the time. You have something broken.

Windows 10 has CHKDSK which is a hard drive inspector.

Windows has Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool.

I bet you don’t make it past both of those.

Windows 10 has a drive optimization tool, although you probably shouldn’t use that on a Solid State Drive.

Audacity does not like network connected storage and it hates Cloud Drives.

Audio (and video) production is usually the first time that the machine has to use all its memory and large amounts of clean, well-behaved drive. The machine could have been loafing for years in perfect health, running email and spreadsheets, but Audacity has to keep large chunks of the show in live memory to work right and if you have something wrong in high memory, that damage will arrive quickly.

The video people have a similar problem, and for the same reasons. “I tried to edit my Youtube video and the machine went face-first into the mud!”

i agree that the MP3 format will become deprecated and a thing of the past.

Actually, I said you shouldn’t be using it for sound production. It’s still a very nice portable music format and will probably continue to be forever.

MP3’s full family name is MPEG-1, Layer-3. It’s the sound part of a video file. That also explains some of its oddities. Did you notice that MP3 has ratty music stop and start times? It’s looking for its video frames for sync. If there’s no video, it just starts making it up.


hey Koz, thank you for the continuing responses and information.
I actually am a geologist in the state of Wisconsin and use this same laptop for 3D groundwater and soil modeling and visualization as part of my regular work day. My PC is no loafer. It is definitely accustomed to working hard and utilizing as much memory as possibly, or at least i would assume. you sound very knowledgeable about operating systems and performance…so you probably no more about how the modeling process works. I just know that when it is rendering a model or a Krig, i can’t really do much else except what you mentioned (emailing and looking at chemistry data in giant, boring spreadsheets.)
I think some of my Audacity plugins may have caused the issue. a lot of free stuff from 3rd parties, and if i recall…Audacity began getting unstable once i learned how to use the plugins and was running them on a daily basis. but who knows :question:
i am back at it with V3.0.3 and running with no problems so far. I love the bundled AUP3 file.
Great job by the team at Audacity. and thank you, Koz

  • Heath

I should probably go get a nice PC and dedicate it to my music hobby, instead of pounding the hell out of this thing.
I know nothing about Macintosh Apples…but i only here great things from friends and colleagues.
Can i assume your Mac High Sierra is great for sound production? I think it is time for me to upgrade.


I have been following your thread with great disappointment. I have had my own personal nightmares because of corrupted projects. Every time someone posts that they have lost data in their project I cry a little inside. I had been thinking of adding a comment, but the previous posters covered the situation very well - I have nothing new to add. Prior to 3.0.0, posts such as yours were not uncommon. Pointers were lost, data was lost, files were lost. Audacity repaired some broken projects by replacing missing data with zeros. If you have zeros in your data, then your data went missing. Your data is lost and is simply not recoverable.

When 3.0.0 came out, I rejoiced inside, because I knew that the sqlite-based unitary .aup3 file structure had the potential of preventing the project damage we were seeing. I also knew there were probably still some underlying bugs that would need to be weeded out. For me this is a very serious issue. However, for prior to 2.x.x and before, there is nothing to be done.

Also note, I am only a volunteer. It is a difficult undertaking to look into a broken project (at least for me); my reward is hoping to discover underlying issues so they can be addressed and repaired in future releases.

I think it is time for me to upgrade.

I would stick to Windows if you’re comfortable with the way they work.

High Sierra on the Mac is lovely, but it’s multiple versions behind modern Macs. The next version up, Mojave, started to drop support for some of the tools and add-ons that Audacity uses. By the time they got to Catalina, it was hard work to keep Audacity alive.

Big Sur is current and it runs on the newer M1 processor Macs with special software so older apps should still work. Monterey is due in October and I expect some of the older apps will peel off in favor of M1 native software. No more Intel Chips—and we assume no more some of the apps I like.

I’ve used both. My Rolodex® runs under Microsoft MS-DOS 6.2, and I’m using Windows 7 and Windows 2000, but I never had a good working relationship and understanding of how they worked, with emphasis on Network Systems. It is said that if you can keep a Microsoft Network alive and kicking, you can write your own ticket and get your own parking spot. It’s not that easy.

When Macs went to OS-X, whole worlds opened up. I can speak UNIX and those Macs run Pretty User Interfaces on a UNIX base.

Screen Shot 2021-08-07 at 7.31.14 PM.png
We can do this. That’s the machine I’m typing on right now. Yes, I can read that. That was the end of the Windows machines.

So, no, I don’t recommend flipping over to Macs without a clear reason (most Mac users can’t speak UNIX. I’m one of the odd ducks).

Although it is also said that stunningly few people ever flip back.