Lost important recording

Help, I was making a radio contact between the ISS (International Space Station) and the local high school this morning. I was using Audacity 1.3.13 to record from the mixer to my laptop. I set up the Timer Record for the 10 minutes of the pass so I wouldn’t forget to press record. I was kind of busy moving the antenna to track the ISS and working the radio. The recording started fine but near the end of the recording I realized there would be a few people speaking to the audiance over the PA system after my timed recording ended. I needed to extend the record time so I cancelled the timer record function and pressed record again. To my shock and horror the first recording was gone! Does Audacity write to a temp file on the computer so I can retreive the first recording or am I hosed? I saved the “project” hoping that would contain both recording but it only has the second one. I searched my computer for any files created at the time of the first recording but found nothing.

Timer recording is not one of our more fuzzy-warm features. I have personal scars from unfortunate assumptions that the programmers made.

I cancelled the timer record function and pressed record again.

But you didn’t press Stop. That may have killed you right there. You left the first recording job in an unstable state.

I would have expected you to get a second, new track underneath the existing one, but only if you exited the first session gracefully. Audacity is also famous for writing over old cache files if it gets confused. We’ll see what the other elves have to say.



When a Timer Record is actually recording, there is a difference between the “Stop” and “Cancel” buttons in the Timer Record progress dialogue. “Stop” stops the recording and preserves it (like the yellow Stop button in a manually started recording). “Cancel” undoes the recording (removes the recorded track). If you cancel, the recording (I would have expected) would still be stored in the Undo History until you close that project window.

So if you still had the project open from where you had cancelled the first recording and completed the second, you would have done:

1 Edit > Copy (or safer, File > Export as WAV) the second recording.
2 Edit > Undo Record (removes the second recording)
3 Edit > Undo Track Remove (restores the first recording)
4 Press K to move to the end of the first recording, then Edit > Paste to paste the second recording at the end of the first (or File > Import > Audio the second recording if you exported it).

However at the moment in 2.0.0, it seems that while “Cancel” in Timer Record recording lets you Edit > Redo Record to restore that recording, if you then start another Timer Record there is indeed no way to get back to the first cancelled recording (at least via Edit > Undo).

For now, leave the project window open. If you close it without the first recording visible, it will be gone for good. I’ll experiment some more.


No, the first recording will be overwritten by the second I’m afraid in the scenario you quote, because cancelling the Timer Record is like doing Record, Stop, Edit > Undo Record then another Record. The second recording is then at the start of the Undo History, which is stepwise. This means it does not give you unlimited undo for absolutely every step taken, just every step in a sequence.

Had you cancelled Timer Record, Edit > Redo Record then started to record again (or just stopped Timer Record), all would have been well. Sorry.

Timer Record possibly should give you some way to extend a recording in progress, but the real problem is treating “cancelling a Timer Recording” rather literally that you really want to do that.


There is an extensive proposal in the Wiki for improvements to the Timer Record facility which includes the ability to change the timers while recording is in progress: http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Proposal_Timer_Record_Improvements

This thread shows that the Cancel button in the Timer Record can be dangerous and non-intuitive for users.
@Gale: Should I consider adding removal of the Cancel button to the proposal?


I think so, but let’s wait a couple of days. If no-one else has commented on -devel I’ll put it up on Bugzilla and you can link to it in your proposal if you want. I think it’s too dangerous. If you cancel accidentally or otherwise, the obvious reaction is to press Record to continue what you were recording, and then you lost your recording.


Perhaps there is an alternative approach?
I don’t use “Timer Recording” but from following this, and other, topics on the forum, I get the impression it is intended to be used for “unattended recording”. That being the case, and assuming the recording has been set up correctly, doesn’t that imply that the user definitely wants that recording? Therefore an alternative approach would be to force a “Save Project As” if the user attempts to amend the Timer Recording parameters/status whilst the recording is actually in progress. At least that would preserve the material captured up to that point.
Just another of my “off the wall” observations…

Because you can’t get back to the Timer Record controls once the recording is in progress, the only choices are “Stop” or “Cancel” and the only problem is “Cancel”.

A forced “Save Project” on its own wouldn’t help this case at all - also if Audacity crashed the recording would be recovered. The issue is how the Cancel is being handled in the Undo Stack.

Since (as you say) this is an “unattended recording” feature, it may be rare that people use or misuse “Stop” or "Cancel and that the “least coding” solution is to remove the Cancel button.


Actually some of us use it while we are fully at the computer doing other stuff, and the Timer Record is set up so that we don’t miss the start of a broadcast show we want to capture while we are busy doing other things.


Audacity is also famous for writing over old cache files if it gets confused.

I ran a few deleted file recovery programs looking for recently deleted files and came up empty. I assumed the temp files have a “.au” extension. If anyone knows differently please let me know. I’m guessing that Audacity overwrote the older temp/cache files when I pressed cancel and started a new recording…

Yes they do.

Yes I know you do that. But I don’t think the developers allowed for that possibility :slight_smile: .

But since you are busy, I take it you don’t often go back then press Cancel in error while recording?


I don’t think there is any “confusion” other than Audacity believes you meant to cancel and so (in effect) do Edit > Undo Record.

I’d already checked in deleted file recovery programs too. To the best of my knowledge Audacity doesn’t delete those files from the “undone” recording (as it would for example if you recorded, then closed Audacity in error without saving a project). The undone files are just written over in situ because they are no longer part of the Undo history.

Of course we could have really unlimited undo, but at the cost of a lot more disk space usage.

Sorry once again, but at least you know what to do now if you do cancel Timer Record in error.


Yes indeed - and as Vaughan has recently pointed out in an email on the devel email thread I do understand the difference in English between “Stop” and “Cancel” … :sunglasses:

Actually having set up a “remember to do” Timer Record for busy periods I will usually try to remember to take back manual control close to the start of the broadcast/webcast - and to do that I need the “Cancel” button. This is preferrable to just relying on the TR as then you get back the operabality of the controls. This provides the raison d’être for the TR proposal that I wrote. :slight_smile:


I’ll try to find some time to update the Timer Record section on the Transport Menu page in the manual: http://manual.audacityteam.org/man/Transport_Menu#timer

Documenting what the Stop and Cancel buttons do (and how to recover if you press Cancel, or the little top right hand corner “x” in the dialog box, by mistake).


I think that Vaughan has a point there, but from a naive user perspective who may be more familiar with cassette recorders, you don’t get a “Cancel button” on a tape recorder. The idea of pressing a button on a cassette recorder that not only stops the recording but instantly and automatically deletes anything that has been recorded is quite bizarre.

Perhaps a suitable compromise would be to grey out the Cancel button once the recording has started.
This would keep the functionality described by waxcylinder (cancel TR and record manually) but would still protect naive users from destroying their recording.
You would be able to cancel the countdown, but once you get to blast-off you are committed to recording, cancel is no longer available (though you can still “Stop => Undo”).

You don’t need the Undo if you use the “Stop” - as that leaves the recorded audio track up that point intact.

Yes, I agree cassette recorders don’t have cancel buttons - but modern PVRs usually have a “Cancel” somewhere (sometimes called delete) and that is normally used to totally remove a future scheduled recording, so users could be aware of the more drastic result of invoking a Cancel.

Greying out once the recording has started is a good idea - but then how would you protect the user who “accidentally” clicks on the little black “x” at the top right of the TR progress box once the recording has initiated?

Given Vaughan’s comments on the devel email thread I’m minded to add the greying out idea to the proposal in the Wiki rather than removal of the Cancel button. Any support for this?



I meant that if the user wants to “Cancel” the recording after it has started then they can use “Stop” to stop the recording followed by “Ctrl+Z” (or “Edit > Undo”) to undo the recording. The net result is the same as Cancel, but with less risk of accidental deletion.

If someone can “accidentally” click the “X” then they are possibly beyond help. I think that clicking the “X” accidentally is much harder than clicking the “Cancel” button accidentally.

I’d rather the Cancel button was greyed out than removed.

I agree - another alternative would be to leave the cancel button as-is but pop up a dialog box to ask the user if they want to keep or ditch the recording made thus far - thoughts?

ROFLMAO: I am more than inclined to agree :sunglasses:


Done a first draft of this. See: http://manual.audacityteam.org/man/Transport_Menu#Timer_Record

This is something I’ve benn meaning to do for a while - so the nudge from this thread has been useful :wink: