After that a pop up says that it found the same number of orphan files attached to the project as the ones that are apparently missing. I tried moving the folder and the project file back to the original location. The .au files are there, but it’s like Audacity no longer recognizes them as the files for that specific project. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
I think you’re talking about two different things. If the file system becomes damaged, Audacity will just drop-dead fail: “Unable to find the _DATA folder.” Full Stop.
Orphan files means parts of the show are damaged and Audacity will volunteer to try to patch it together with whatever is left.
You can try to play the orphan files. All the AU files will open and play in Audacity. If they’re damaged, you may get silence, trash or just failure to open.
I’m on shaky ground here, but the AU files are all six second long and should be about the same data size. On a quick test, I get about 1.1MB. If you have a pile of files with very different sizes in one show, I expect you got a damaged show.