Recovering crashes manually

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If Audacity is not able to shut down properly (e.g. because the program crashes, or the computer loses power suddenly), then unsaved data may be left in Audacity's temporary files folder. These instructions can help you recover that unsaved data.

Note: This can be very difficult for long recordings. The Audacity developers are planning to add auto-recovery features to future versions of Audacity.

When you first launch Audacity after a crash, a dialog will appear warning you that there are still files in the temporary folder. It will ask if you want to delete the files. Say "no." (If you were editing an existing project, then the files may be in the project_data folder instead of the temp folder.)

Audacity breaks tracks into "block files", each with about one megabyte of data. This allows Audacity to perform many editing tasks very quickly and efficiently. Without a saved project file, Audacity does not know how to assemble the blockfiles into tracks. You will need to assemble them manually.

NOTE: As of 20060409, none of the information here works for Audacity 1.3x. For one thing, the temporary files are not numbered decimal sequentially. If the files are sorted by the date they were created, and then renamed in that order as if they came from 1.2.x, then they should recover OK. The next release of audacity will automate this process.


Check the "Directories" section of the Audacity preferences to find out where temporary files are stored.

Mac users: The temporary folder is usually hidden in the Finder. To access it, use the "Go To Folder" command in the Finder, or type "open /tmp/INSERT_FOLDER_NAME_HERE" in the Terminal. If that doesn't work, try to make the Finder show its hidden files and folders by entering this as a command in the terminal:

defaults write AppleShowAllFiles -bool true

or try TinkerTool  to do the same thing.

Once you have located Audacity's temporary folder, use the "Import Audio" command in the Project to open all of the .au files in Audacity's temp folder. Use shift-click or control-click to select multiple files. The files will be in approximately 10-second chunks. Files from stereo tracks will alternate between left and right channels. You can use copy/paste to re-assemble the original tracks.

Audacity Recovery Utility

The following program was written by an Audacity developer to help with crash recovery. It still needs more testing, so please write to [email protected] to let us know whether it works for you:

Aud_Recover command-line recovery utility

This is a portable command line program by Tyler Knott which does much the same as the Audacity Recovery Utility but is not written in python/ wxpython, so does not need those libraries in order to compile it. Due to limitations in the C standard library this program cannot create files larger than 2 GB.

You can download aud_recover version 1.1.1 here. This download contains binaries for Windows (32-bit) and the cross-platform C source code.

To recover files using this program:

  1. Find the first and last files in the recording by listening to them (if you've only done one recording then that should be the first and the last files in the directory).
  2. Place the aud_recover program in your Audacity temp directory
  3. aud_recover requires several settings to run. You can either enter them as command-line options (use --help for more infmormation) or interactively by simply running the program.
  4. aud_recover will generate one or more files (depending on how many channels of audio you recorded, usually one or two for mono and stereo). You need to import these into Audacity using the Import Raw Data option. To configure the dialog, follow these directions:
    • You can determine the sample format (the first drop-down) and the endianness (the second) using the included auinfo utility.
    • The header offset should be zero and the amount to import should be 100%. No matter how many channels were recorded you should keep it set to 1 (see the next numbered step).
    • The sample rate should be set to the sample rate you recorded at (the sample rate given by auinfo is always 44100, even if that is incorrect, due to a bug in Audacity).
    • Repeat this step for every output file.
  5. For stereo files set the left channel to left, the right channel to right, then select "Make Stereo Track" from the track popdown menu to convert it to a stereo track.

The resulting track should be exactly what was recorded before Audacity crashed.

If you have any questions, comments, or bug reports please don't hesitate to e-mail me at tknott *at* gmail *dot* com

Other Tools

This freeware tool can automatically join large numbers of files. (Note: One Audacity user reported an audible noise at the places where the files were joined.)

  • tail and cat (On Linux/UNIX systems)
   - I found that 123 AV Merger gave me exactly what I would get with cat.
   I  was able to get around this with the following procedure:
   1. I had to throw out all odd-numbered files (1,3,5...)
   2. Using tail's byte-count switch "-c" I copied each remaining .au to a new .au.tmp file
   3. Using cat I  ran all the .au.tmp files into on long .au
   4. Imported the final .au with "Import RAW Data"
   5. Exported the track as wav
   I played around with exactly how many bytes to tail until there was no longer any sharp noises at each joint. I don't have that number with me right now - I'll try to get it later.

This could be theoretically written into a script. I'll try to add more details later.

<a href="">sox</a> can concatenate the files together.

Usage: sox file1 .. filen outfile

(Sox can handle up to 32 files at a time.)

e.g. for a mono recording:

  % sox b0000*.au b0001*.au b0002*.au

After I'm done, I have just several au files to import (a lot fewer than before).

I found it easier to write the following Python script that I used under Mac OS X to recover 1.2GB of data. It was easier than the above solutions.

% cat

# python script to recover audacity recording after crash

import os

directory = raw_input('Enter directory where temp data files are: ')

rawfiles = os.listdir(directory)  # grab directory listing

files = []           # only interested in .au files and
for i in rawfiles:   # prepend each with the directory name
   if i[-3:] == '.au': files.append(directory '/' i)

files.sort()  # sort files so the result will be in proper sequence

# open the output file for the recovery
fp = open('','wb')

# write the whole first file because it has the header
dd = open(files[0],'rb').read()

# for every other file, write from the data offset on
for i in files[1:]:
   dd = open(i, 'rb').read()[12380:]

# close recovered sound file

I had problems using the above script. I found that it didn't really write every other file, so if you try to recovery stereo recordings you get a nasty echo effect since every other file is the left or right channel.

The problem with the script above is that you coded the slice wrong:

>>> x=(1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10)  # sample data
>>> x[1:]                     # doesn't do what you wanted
(2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
>>> x[::2]                    # this gets the odd-numbered items
(1, 3, 5, 7, 9)
>>> x[1::2]                   # this gets the even-numbered ones
(2, 4, 6, 8, 10)

So, you just need to change the line "for i in files[1:]:" to either "for i in files[::2]:" (for the first channel), or "for i in files[1::2]:" (for the other).

I wrote this modified version of the script to try to put the two tracks into two recovery files. Unfortunately, just importing the recovered files doesn't seem to give you perfect stereo again because of sync issues, possibly due to missing files in the recovery set. Give it a shot, it might work for you.

# python script to recover audacity recording after crash

import os

directory = raw_input('Enter directory where temp data files are: ')

rawfiles = os.listdir(directory)  # grab directory listing

files = []           # only interested in .au files and
for i in rawfiles:   # prepend each with the directory name
   if i[-3:] == '.au': files.append(directory '/' i)

files.sort()  # sort files so the result will be in proper sequence

# open the output file for the recovery
fp = open('','wb')

# write the whole first file because it has the header
dd = open(files[0],'rb').read()

#this is intented for recoverying stereo and the second file should be the
# first part of the second track, so write the whole file.

fpp = open('','wb')
# write the whole second file because it has the header for track 2
dd = open(files[1],'rb').read()

#it's stereo, so the .au files should alternate left