Missing files emergency

Friends, it has happened again. I’m having an issue similar to
with an important and time-sensitive file that I’m supposed to send to a mastering engineer tonight …

Some of this will sound familiar (renaming files is dangerous), but some of it has me scratching my head because I don’t think I did anything extremely stupid.

What I’m running:
Audacity 2.0.5 on MacOS X 10.9.5

What I did:
— I did my recording outside of Audacity and imported all files to mix, but I’m working with ALL files duplicated/saved by Audacity (the safer, not faster method), so it shouldn’t be looking for outside files (which haven’t moved, anyway). It’s a ton of audio — about 15 minutes of 6 stereo tracks at 24-bit/96KHz, so multiple gigabytes.
— Once I had a complete mix of the project, I needed to very carefully experiment with some noise removal on multiple tracks, while having the option to go back to my complete mix if I went too far. So I quit Audacity, duplicated and renamed the project and data files to a new identical name in the same folder, and reopened Audacity and the new project.
(note: I’ve peeked at the .aup file in TextEdit and “projname=” is as it should be.)
Everything worked fine. I made the noise removal edits, and they sounded good, so I exported the project as a .WAV to listen on another device. That worked fine.
— I quit Audacity and listened to the WAV on the other device. There were some mistakes — it sounded like the noise removal hadn’t gone through on one of the tracks, and there were a few clicks that weren’t there before — so I needed to to a little bit more work. I went back to Audacity and …
My new, noise-removed project reported catastrophic missing files, thousands of them.
My OLD, SAVED FOR SAFETY project ALSO reports catastrophic missing files, thousands of them.

I’m at a loss. What did I do wrong, and how can I rescue my project?

Thanks for your help…

2.0.5 is ancient. In that version, if any clip is 2^31 samples or greater of audio (just over 13.5 hours at 44100 Hz) then the entire project reopens with orphan block files. If you have 15 minute tracks that is not the case for you, but you should be aware of the danger of running obsolete versions of applications. You can obtain 2.1.2 here: https://www.fosshub.com/Audacity.html/ which does not have that bug.

We tell you not to do that in numerous places all over our documentation. You can’t have an identical name in the same folder unless you are on a case-sensitive Mac and you capitalised/uncapitalised some of the characters. If you must hand copy, the duplicate AUP file and _data folder needs to be in a different folder so that the name of AUP file and _data folder really can be the same.

Next time, please use File > Save Project As… .

Does either _data folder for the two projects still contain any .AU block files? If yes, you “might” be able to fix it. Look at Help > Show Log… to find out where Audacity is looking for the files.


Hi Gale, thank you for your help. Yes, believe me, I will definitely be updating and using the Save As function next time.

When I say a “new identical name”, I mean that the .aup file and .dat file shared an identical name with each other (projectname NEW), not identical with the old files, which would indeed be impossible.
To be clear: when I stupidly duplicated, as usual the Mac automatically added “copy” to the end of the file and folder name, so there was never an identical-name problem. I renamed them from “projectname copy” to “projectname NEW”.

Yes, both data folders still contain many block files.

From the log, it looks like Audacity was looking for folders that didn’t exist, created those folders (empty of course), and then reported the files it was looking for missing from those folders.

I could copy-paste the full log of what happens when I try to load the project, but it’s huge …

What would you recommend to try to recover?

Also, I don’t think this is what’s happening, but to clarify (though I will definitely update): you say that in 2.0.5, if any clip is 2^31 samples or greater of audio (just over 13.5 hours at 44100 Hz) then the entire project reopens with orphan block files. Does the depth of the sample reduce this tolerance? I’m working at 24-bit / 96k Hz, which doesn’t sound like it would be an issue, but I have some similar projects that run up to 20 minutes with six stereo tracks at once.

OK but it’s a _data folder not a .dat file.

So in that case, before even opening the renamed project, you needed to change projname in the AUP file to “projectname NEW_data”.

When you use 2.1.2 you can Save the log as a file and attach it here (if it’s less than 2 MB). Also attach the newer AUP file. Please see how to attach files to forum posts.

Sample rate affects the tolerance but not bit depth, because it was an issue of how many samples could be stored. 96000 Hz means that the maximum length was around 6 hours or so.