Recuperating Projects&Data From HDD (Now An External Drive) Backup Files

Had a laptop that I used to create tracks with Audacity (Version 2.1 or thereabouts). I ran Win 7, 32 Bits. The laptop crashed. I’ve hundreds of projects backed up on that HDD.

Recently reacquired a laptop running Win 10 64Bit and a HDD adapter hoping I might not have lost it all and what do you know all of it is backed up, aup files as well as _data. Thing is though that a recently downloaded version of Audacity won’t playback the tracks as they were built and instead fills in with the default Silence.

I’ve tried a number of basic standard troubleshooting quick fix actions, such as uninstall reinstall of Audacity, rebooting, restoring the totality of the now external HDD in hopes that it would correct any misnamed paths; as well as my complete samples library for Audacity to locate.
None of it has worked.

So it feels like what I’ve been dreading all along is happening, mainly that the paths between projects, samples, Audacity, and so on were altered during the restore process making it impossible for Audacity to playback my tracks as I built them. Obviously the record/save samples direct to project setting was turned off at the time. The error message is always a variation of some file Audacity cannot locate, ie… e08084.up.
Given the volume of content I’ve used doublechecking every path is impossible. What really irks me though is my inability to locate any of the MP3 versions of my tracks that I religiously exported to desktop for exactly this kind of situation among the backup files.

At this point I’m not kidding myself anymore and quite resigned to the fact that it’s do over time but if someone out there thinks to have the means of pulling this baby out of the fire I’m ripe to hear about it.

The old 32-bit versions of Audacity will run on 64-bit windows …

The laptop crashed. I’ve hundreds of projects backed up on that HDD.

You have hundreds of projects saved on that HDD. If they were backed up on a second drive, none of this would be happening.

HDD adapter hoping I might not have lost it all and what do you know all of it is backed up, aup files as well as _data.

You whizzed right over why the laptop crashed. The directory of contents is not the same as the actual files. If your laptop crashed because of HDD data corruption or other surface damage, then you could easily get what you have. Audacity Projects, which in version 2 are a blizzard of individual files, are each subject to damage or accidental deletion.

restoring the totality of the now external HDD

…to the new machine? So what you did was carefully restored the crash damage to the new machine.

Audacity 2 wasn’t very robust in the face of unusual activities or failures. When shows do fail, it’s usually with a pile of “I can’t find that file” or silences where files used to be. That’s why Audacity 3 no longer does it that way. It’s all in one AUP3 file now and there is an ability to create a stand-alone backup Project not linked to the original show.

And yes, Audacity 3 will open Audacity 2 shows, if they’re still alive.


Quick note here, Audacity 3 doesn’t much like dealing directly with External, Network, or Cloud Drives. Do everything on your internal drive and move files around after Audacity is closed.


So what seems to be the problem? If I’ve restored both the _data and .au project files to the laptop why are all my tracks replaced by silence?

You can check a legacy project outside of Audacity. Open up the .aup file in a text editor (Do Not save anything) and read it.

That one has been prettied up a little for the picture. Spaces have been added to make the individual program sections more obvious. The top third is the file header, the next block of text is the Left Sound and the bottom block is the Right Sound in a stereo show.

Drag the text window really wide and the structure will become more apparent. Those semi-English words are normal. “Waveclip, numpoints, waveblock, maxsamples,” etc.

The name of the Project is burned into the AUP file. See little red box. If your .aup file is blank, has graphic characters, black blocks, or text trash, that’s the end of the .aup file and the show. Even if you do have all the little .AU files and they all play OK, Edit Masters are trash without the .AUP file and although some straight recordings may be recovered directly, it’s a totally manual retirement project.

When the program complains it can’t find an AU file, write down the name and see if you can find it yourself and play it. AU files are six second sound files and they will play in Audacity.

In any one show, the .AUP file and the associated _DATA folder must be in the same location or folder for a show to open.


Thanks Koz for taking the time to answer and do it so clearly. Interesting education I love it. When I do as you outlined the project name is intact. I’ve also tried to find the missing au files as you mentioned before this and didn’t have any luck. None of the projects load properly, all of them have missing au files. They must be somewhere on that HDD but a file search at the restore screen turns up nothing.
Knowing the project file now is still intact is a major step up so If you’ve anything else to throw at me keep it coming. Thanks

They must be somewhere on that HDD

Nobody said that.

Your laptop crashed. All you have to do is scramble the tiny drive file management system and files vanish. You don’t have to kill the whole file.

I think it’s still true that when you delete a file in Windows, the file doesn’t go anywhere. Windows deletes the address of the file so the computer can’t find it any more. Someone will correct me, that was the “File Allocation Table.”

There are Undelete Programs that intentionally go looking for trash and try to put it back together into a working file. I believe the success rate is still about 30% or less. If you used the computer after a deletion, Windows might identify the unlabeled file as “available” and start plopping new work on top of it.

Then there’s fragmentation. Files don’t always fit exactly right, so Windows breaks them up into fragments (hence the name) at different addresses. Picture a public library getting a new book and not having enough shelf space for it. They whack up the book with a knife and put some of it here and some of it over there, making sure to write all this down so they can put the book back together later if somebody wants to take it out.

If you damage that location listing, that’s the end of the world. You’ll never put the book (file) back together.

Good luck.

You get to wear your Producer Hat. That’s the person with the final decisions—and the checkbook. When do you give up and either re-record the show or go onto the next show and cherish the memories of what this one might have been.


Ok so be it I can make a thousand more it’s no problem, would’ve been nice though. Thanks

And solid Koz, thanks for taking the time I appreciate it. Blessings and peace to you. The funk goes on