Waveform disappeared! Please help :(

Hi everyone,

I have a big problem. Last weekend me and a friend recorded a session for our Let’s Play. Our commentary goes directly into audacity and then I edit it all together later. So a week ago (last saturday) we had a session that lasted about an hour or an hour and a half. Since it was late, when we finished I just left everything open and went to bed (no I didn’t save at that time :frowning: ). I know this a week later, but I’ve barely been at home or sat at a computer this week (stressful week).

SO the next morning I wake up and I derp around on the computer first for a while, and then I was like “Oh, it’s about time I handle the session material we recorded”. The thing is, when I opened Audacity, the waveform was just Flat. It was fine when we finished recording, but now it was just a flat line. Playing it back, there’s nothing but silence. I tried to save it and all I get is an error message that says “Could not save project. Perhaps C:\User\XXXX\Desktop\test is not writable or the disk is full.” (note: the disk is far from full).

I googled for a while trying to figure it out. Some suggestions I found was to copy the waveform and paste it into a separate audacity project. So I opened a new session, started a fresh project and pasted it. When I did that not even flat line appeared, just the “container” of the waveform, or whatever it’s called, but no line.

My friend just told me he could come over in a few hours so we could record new material, but I have no idea if this is salvageable or if we need to redo the part we did last time. SO I beg Anyone in here if you have any suggestion please let me know ASAP. I will be eternally grateful.

The worst part is that the material was REALLY good. I’d hate to lose it, it would break my heart cos we worked hard on it and since it’s all improvised it’s impossible to replicate :frowning:.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

Assuming that the project had not been saved at any point:
With the project open in Audacity, go to “Edit > Preferences > Directories” to find the directory for Audacity’s Temp folder.
Now find that folder - it’s usually inside a hidden folder, so you will need to enable viewing hidden folders.
Does your project exist in that location? (there should be loads of folders inside each other with a total size of many MBs).
If the project data is not there, then it is likely that a “PC maintenance” product on your computer has deleted the data files (this is a known problem with some Norton products).

Well the folders you mentioned are there, but they are entirely empty :frowning:
I don’t use Norton products, I use Eset Smart Security (Nod32)… But I also use CCleaner, but I don’t recall using it AFTER recording. I do recall using it Before recording, like that same day, but not after. Is there any chance of restoring what was deleted? :frowning:. I’ve heard of software that can restore deleted files, might that be something I could try? :frowning:

P.S. I forgot to put it in the original post but I’m using Windows 7 (64-bit) and I have audacity version 2.0.6

I very much doubt that Ccleaner will be the problem (unless you have manually configured it to “clean” that location).
You could have a look to see if Eset Smart Security has “quarantined” the files/folders.

I wake up and I derp around on the computer first for a while…
… I’ve heard of software that can restore deleted files

If you or the machine did anything to save work during that interval, “undelete” is probably gone.

When you “delete” files (and we don’t know yet exactly what happened), Windows doesn’t actually delete the file. It just marks that place on the drive as available for new work. If you (or Windows) creates any new work, you’re dead.

Undelete depends on getting to the drive before anything else happens. I think you can still search for Undelete programs.


Exactly what is the path of Audacity temp directory? Select and copy it from Directories Preferences.

Did you sleep or hibernate the computer? That should stop cleanup apps doing their thing.

Very Long Shot: If you did not sleep or hibernate and have System Restore turned on for that drive, and if System Restore took a snapshot while the project was open and then another snapshot while the project was unattended (before the cleanup app got to it), then you should have a “Previous version” of the folder.

That previous version folder will be the project state when the second snapshot was taken. However snapshots are not usually taken more than once a day unless you installed apps or made system changes that triggered writing a restore point.

If you use an “undelete” app it is essential that it does not rename the files and folders in the recovered folder.


Well CCleaner does have a checkbox for “temporary files”, which I suppose these were, so it doesn’t seem that unlikely.

Do you mean save the audacity project itself, or Other work, as in other software? I tried to save the project itself, but that obviously failed. I have saved other stuff since though.

It’s “C:\Users\XXXX\AppData\Local\Temp\audacity_temp”.

No, the computer has been on and awake this whole time. It’s been about 2 weeks since I last turned off (didnt wanna shut down audacity in case there was a way to save it).

And with that in mind, if I use a snapshot, wont I lose everything I did these past 2 weeks? I don’t think its worth it :frowning:.

Anyway. It feels pretty hopeless now, and I’m itching to let my computer rest a bit, I don’t like having it on for so long with no rest. So I might just give up and close the whole thing.

Thanks to everyone who tried to help though. I really appreciate it :slight_smile:.

OK I have looked into this. CCleaner’s checkbox for “Temporary Files” under “System” does look in C:\Users<your user name>\AppData\Local\Temp\ and that does include the Audacity default temp dir of “C:\Users<your user name>\AppData\Local\Temp\audacity_temp”.

But by default, only system files older than 24 hours are deleted. Even if you changed it to delete all system temp files however recent, you would still have to manually run CCleaner (or schedule the free version in Windows Task Scheduler or use the scheduler in CCleaner Pro) to delete the Audacity temp files. Is CCleaner scheduled to clean?

CCleaner does have a checkbox for Audacity on the “Applications” tab, but I don’t understand its purpose. With that box unchecked, CCleaner will still find Audacity temp files if they are in the default location of “C:\Users<your user name>\AppData\Local\Temp\audacity_temp” and CCleaner is set to clean system temp files.

With that “Audacity” box checked, CCleaner does not find Audacity temp data if I set it to e.g. “C:\Users\Gale\AppData\Local\Audacity” or “C:\Users\Gale\AppData\Local\Audacity\SessionData”. The sooner we change the Audacity temp dir on Windows to something safer, the better, in my opinion.

Yes, Audacity will error saving the project because the AU files in the temp folder did not exist any longer.

If you had force quit Audacity and reopened it, then the same names of the original AU files would be reused for silent files. But the pointers to those original files were deleted by the original deletion, and the new files with the same name might therefore be saved to a different cluster. If so the originally deleted files would still (potentially) be on the drive.

But if you are going to undelete, you need to do it at once to minimise the chance that the clusters will be reused. If you don’t already have a recovery app you need to install that new recovery app on another drive, and recover to another drive.

No. You are not doing a system restore, just using the Previous Version of the folder that (just possibly) a Snapshot might have created. You would right-click over “C:\Users<your user name>\AppData\Local\Temp\audacity_temp”, choose “Restore previous versions” then look on the “Previous Versions” tab.

But there will only be a “Previous Version” in the absolutely specific set of circumstances I gave.