Orphan File Problem

So, I’ve made a huge mistake (GOB pun intended.)

I recently recorded a high school vocal concert using Audacity 2.0.0 like I usually do about 5 times a month… At the end of the concert, I forgot to stop recording and one of my students shut the laptop lid that was recording the concert. When the lid shuts, the machine stays on and when I opened it up on Monday (concert was on Thursday), Windows was searching to a solution for Audacity crashing and in the background, I noticed Audacity had recorded 96 hours of nothing after my 2 hour concert.

When I tried to open the file, Audacity notified me that there was a recovered project available that I could open, which I did. After about 10 minutes, Audacity returned and said the 79000 block files were orphaned. I recognize most of the files are silence from the 96 hours of nothing, but the 2 hours of concert I need are in there.

Is there a way to recover the block file I need with out spending 6 years trying to piece together the whole thing? Any input would be helpful.

Can you see the 2 hours of your audio as blue waves, anywhere amongst the silence, so you could drag select it and export it? I doubt it, because I assume Audacity had run out of disk space (and hence it may start corrupting the intended recording).

Otherwise, the issue would be that Audacity cannot store more than 13.5 hours of audio at 44100 Hz project rate. You can export a longer recording than that, but if you reopen or recover such a project, all the audio data is regarded as “orphaned” and will appear as silence. Please see http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Release_Notes_2.0.3#Large_Projects .

There are manual ways of recovering from this situation - see https://forum.audacityteam.org/t/please-help-open-aud-project-orphan-all-files-opens-blank/29787/1 . However unless you can open the _data folder for the project, drag some of the AU files into Audacity and satisfy yourself your recording may still exist, it is probably not worth the effort.


It comes up as nothing. I think what happened in your link is what happened to me.

If I went and deleted all the files with a time stamp after the concert ended in the _data folder, do you think this would allow Audacity to recognize the files needed or are they rendered as corrupt now?

You can always try that sort of repair but you should move the AU files rather than delete them because you don’t really know what happened to the data.

You will very likely still need to edit the AUP file to remove the references to the AU files that you move away.

Before you spend time on it I would drag some of the AU files that appear to be part of the concert into Audacity to see if you have any audio there. If you do, you can perhaps try collecting the concert’s AU files then use the Wiki instructions to recover them using the 1.2 Recovery Utility. This may be an easier approach for the two hours you need than editing the AUP file.


I have confirmed that some of the AU files present are in fact from the concert. The only issue is I would need to go through about 79000 files to find out what belongs to the concert.

Thanks for the suggestions. I will post my outcome here.

As you suggested, you should be able to try first of all collecting only the AU files that have timestamps from the couple of hours the concert lasted.


Well, I finally had some time to play around with the files and found that even after removing all of the files that were timestamped post-concert, the rest of the concert data files were still considered orphaned. I am pretty confidant that this concert is lost…

This is expected, assuming you only removed the AU files in the _data folder and did not edit the AUP file.

I suggest you create three new folders. Move the first 1000 AU files (based on timestamp) into the first folder, the second 1000 into the second folder and any others into the third folder. Where two files have the same timestamp, move them into the same folder.

Then taking the contents of the first folder, rename the AU files while time-sorted and recover them to a WAV file using the 1.2 recovery utility as per http://wiki.audacityteam.org/index.php?title=Crash_Recovery#Automatic_recovery_tools . Repeat for the other folders then you can join the three WAV files together.

If this was a stereo recording, this method means that in places, the left channel may be in the right channel and vice-versa, but this is the quickest solution.