Lost Audacity Project


On Wednesday, December 11th, I recorded over an hour long podcast and saved it as a project (.aup file). It seemed like it saved, and when I went into audacity this morning, December 15th, to edit it, I went to the ‘Recent Files’ tab. The project file (named ‘Episode 12’) was there. When I clicked on it, a message came up that was was too fast for me to read. It said something about the file not being there, and then sent me to an empty, new file. When I went to open, import, recent files, etc., I could not find the data or file anywhere. I researched all over the internet and the Audacity help manual, and it said to check the _data folder. The Episode 12_data folder doesn’t exist either. I looked everywhere on my laptop, and it is nowhere to be found. I am just wondering why it seemed to be there one second, and gone another, without me deleting it or anything. I was also wondering if there was a way to recover it at all.

Thank you.

Are you using Audacity 2.0.5? Help > About (I think).

Which Windows do you have?

When was the last time you did an exhaustive virus check? Not the one that runs conveniently in the background while you’re working, I mean the one where you have to stop using your computer for an hour.

How full is your hard drive getting? Start > My Computer > C: > Properties.

Audacity (and video) can take up a lot of room and it’s easy to run out without realizing it. The video people have a fuzzy rule of leaving 10% to 15% of the drive free when they’re doing production.


I am using Audacity 2.0.3. I am using Windows 7. I have a FULL virus scan scheduled every week on my computer (on top of the one where it runs in the background), so it scanned the Sunday before I recorded the file. I have 156 GB of free space left, with 124 GB used so far.

If the project was listed in Recent Files but Audacity could not find it when you clicked on it, then the AUP got moved or renamed or deleted.

You can manually recover a recorded project that was never edited (some sections may have left channel in the right if it was a stereo recording). See http://wiki.audacityteam.org/index.php?title=Crash_Recovery#Automatic_recovery_tools .

If you have neither the AUP or the _data folder and these are not in the Recycle Bin then the only option is data recovery software like Pandora. Your chances that nothing has been overwritten are much reduced after a couple of weeks.


Windows (and DOS before it) has traditionally erased things by simply changing their disk drive address listing, effectively “forgetting” where they were. It’s fast and effective. The work is actually still there. Windows also tends to put new work in actual empty portions of your drive before “covering up” previously used portions. But it’s not guaranteed.

Anybody in the position of trying to recover erased work is advised to stop using their computer immediately to guard against having the erased work stepped on by Windows. Then run the recovery programs as quickly as possible and pray.

Chances are good your show is not on one drive location. It’s not unusual for Windows to break up your show into fragments and place the fragments wherever it’s convenient, garden-hosing your show across the disk. This is like running out of room in your library and being forced to store a book five pages here and five more pages over there – repeat as needed. This is why defragmenting a hard drive is a terrifically good thing to do.

If your drive is partially full or highly fragmented, then the chances of recovery are very slim to zero. Remember, too, that recovery programs are going to present you with the last thirty or forty things you erased, not just your show. There’s nothing neat and orderly about this.

Once Windows erases a drive listing it’s wild, wild west.


True, but do remember that Windows Vista and later defragment automatically: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/942092 .


Have you ever done a manual defrag on a Win7 machine? It never goes to completion. It automatically loops – or at least mine did. You have to catch it when you think it’s been through enough loops and just give up.

You can still catch your machine between 1:00 am defrags and have problems, particularly if you have a full drive and it takes Windows a while to straighten it out. That’s also assuming your machine is alive at 1:00 am.

Of course, contrast that with no recovery at all on Linux and Macs. Yes, we tried once with the best tools. Zero joy.


If you keep your machine active all day and shut it down when you go to bed then it will never defrag automatically. But in normal use you should not have total fragmentation at the start of the scheduled defrag.

If Windows Vista and later doesn’t complete the scheduled defrag it will continue working on it outside the schedule if you walk away from the computer for a few minutes.

Defrag only has “normal” priority so may not be quick. I’ve just defragged C: in a few minutes while writing this (it was 1% fragmented).

If you have a full drive you won’t get much done with Audacity.

I don’t know what you mean. Linux and Mac file systems don’t really fragment until the disk is almost full - see for example http://www.macattorney.com/ts.html#6 .