Playback is blank for 1st half, then plays fine for 2nd half


  1. Windows 7 Professional x 64 SP1
  2. Dell laptop with built-in microphone: IDT High Definition Audio CODEC (set as the default device)
  3. Audacity 2.1.1, Obtained via .exe installer

Once a week for the past two years using the previous version of Audacity, I have been recording a 50-minute discussion between 2 people, one present with the computer, the other on speaker-phone. Settings are: MME, Microsoft Sound Mapper, 1 (Mono) Record, Speakers/Headphones. About two months ago, I started having a problem with playing the recording. When I finished the recording, I hit the Play button and the sound-wave for the first 20-30 minutes of the recording would go flat and there was no sound; then suddenly the sound-wave would reappear and the rest played back fine. The microphone appears to be recording since there is an active sound-wave during the whole recording. Also, this problem is intermittent–I have tested it many times and the tests mostly play fine. Also, the problem isn’t with saving the file because the problem happens before I hit Export Audio.

I am not an expert with computers, but I thought that maybe a file within Audacity might have been damaged somehow, so I uninstalled and reinstalled Audacity. Next I did a test recording, and it played back fine. But then week after week, the 50 minute recording continued to be blank the first 20-30 minutes and then played fine after that.

I took it to my computer guy and he couldn’t figure it out.

So last week I uninstalled and reinstalled the latest version of Audacity, 2.1.1, and tested the recording and it played back fine. Then last week’s session, the first 49 minutes was blank, but the last minute played fine.

Please help!

Kind Regards,

Thanks for the good information.

Look at Edit > Preferences… then “Directories” at where your Audacity temporary directory is and how much space is on the drive. Each 50 minute recording is about 1 GB by default (if stereo) and each edit of that complete recording takes another 1 GB.

The drive could also be failing or Norton or some cleanup tool could be interfering, thinking you want to clean up unwanted files.

If you save a project to your Desktop before recording it may discourage a cleanup tool from interfering with the recording.


I have been recording a 50-minute discussion between 2 people, one present with the computer, the other on speaker-phone.

I wonder why more people don’t do that. I bet that works (normally) really well. Windows and the sound system know what voices are and how to process them.

Don’t try singing. That wouldn’t work.


Thanks for all your ideas!

In the temporary files where Audacity is stored, free space is 152GB of a 218GB hard drive, so there is plenty I’m not using. I’m recording mono and not doing any editing.

Re cleaning up unwanted files, would I clear my download folder or ? I don’t have that many files stored on the laptop, since I really only use it once a week to record this session.

A new version of Norton Internet Security was downloaded on 7-17 and I was hoping that this was the problem, but the first weekly session that recorded improperly wasn’t until 8-19. Under the “Administrative Settings”, I could turn everything off right before the session to test if Norton is the problem. What do you think?

The laptop is 3 ½ years old and lightly used, so that would be sad if the drive was going. Is there a test for determining if a drive is going bad?

Kind Regards,

Assuming you never save Audacity projects and only export the recordings, then the only “unwanted” files are the files in the Audacity temporary directory. When you exit Audacity without saving changes, Audacity will automatically empty the temp directory listed in Directories Preferences.

So there should not be anything to do beyond making sure the temp files persist until you exit Audacity.

Is there a setting for cleaning up Windows temp files or similar? It is better to turn off only that. In Norton 360 I understand the setting is at Settings > Tasks Scheduling > Automatic Tasks > Windows Temp Files.

To completely shut down Norton you may have to not only exit it but find and close all its background processes. And if you do that, you should disconnect from the internet so there is no risk from turning the Norton protection off.

How to See if Your Hard Drive is Dying with S.M.A.R.T..



Thanks for all your guidance and I’ll follow-up on all and let you know.

Also, I noticed that I updated iTunes the day before the problem started. I hadn’t updated it since I purchased the computer. Is it possible that iTunes could be causing the problem?



I don’t think so, unless your Audacity temp directory is set to a folder that iTunes manages.


I don’t know much about iTunes on Windows, but the latest version killed USB tethering on OSX. A while back, an iTunes update killed shared folders…

Is it possible to roll back your iTunes to the previous version?

The Audacity Temp file is empty.

I found the setting for cleaning up Windows temp files and will turn it off for today’s session.

I don’t use iTunes on this computer, so I will uninstall it.

HI Gale:

The recording was successful yesterday! So I don’t know if it was the box I unchecked in Norton or the uninstall of iTunes, but I will test that by re-checking the Norton box and recording.

Hopefully we have figured this out, and thank you for ALL your time and help.

I learned something valuable which is: check to see what software changes were made to the computer right before the computer started acting up!

Kind Regards,

Hi Gale:

As an update, I now know that it wasn’t the iTunes program because today I didn’t turn off the automatic file checking part of Norton, and the recording was flat, i.e. no sound.

So next week I’ll turn off that Norton aspect and see what happens.


Hi Gale:

The recording was successful today. You were right on the money. So now before I do the recording, I open my Norton program > Settings > Tasks Scheduling > Scheduling > Manual Schedule (radio button) > Apply button. This turns off all the Norton automatic tasks while I doing the recording. Then when I’m done, I open up Norton and change the radio button from Manual Schedule to Automatic. Viola!

I’m writing this for anyone else that has this problem.

Kind Regards,

Thanks, June.

For the record, does Norton Internet Security still have under Settings > Tasks Scheduling > Automatic Tasks a way of turning off the cleaning of Windows Temp Files? Really that is a poor description - Audacity temp files are not “Windows” temp files.

Can you configure when Norton schedules its tasks? For example for someone who never recorded overnight it might be less effort if you could tell Norton (once) only to clean up overnight.


I hope I understand your question.

The tasks that you can choose to include in the automatic background scanning are Internet Explorer Temp Files, Windows Temp Files, Internet Explorer History, and Disk Optimization.

Yes you can configure when Norton performs it’s tasks: automatic, weekly, monthly and manual are the choices.

Hope this helps.