Thursday, 13 March 2008

When I record my audio for the RunAs Radio show, I'm typically sitting in my home office at my desk and using Audacity along with my Samson 01U USB microphone plugged into my Vista laptop. Audacity is an open-source program for all sorts of fancy audio recording, processing and editing. It's really pretty amazing.

Until fairly recently, Audacity was also pretty reliable. But about a month ago I started experiencing occasional crashes when trying to save and export the audio from my recording sessions. Now, if you think about for more than a couple seconds you'll quickly understand that crashes that occur after the interview is over, but before the file is saved, are extremely frustrating - and not just for me. A recording session do-over with three or more people involved in a 30- to 45-minute interview is really not a nice thing to have to ask for.

This morning Richard and I completed an interview with a guest. When I went to save the file, Audacity crashed. My heart sank, and my brain went into oh-crap-overdrive mode. I really did not want to be in the position of having to ask a busy guest to schedule more time to record an interview that had been quite good in the original session. I needed some magic.

I started thinking about temp files. The hard drive is always flashing away as I record the interviews, so something must be saved somewhere, right?

Sure enough, a quick search for *.au files on the hard drive uncovered nearly 400 files in a "_data" folder off the Audacity project's location. The date and time stamps on them made me feel a lot better - Phew! Each file appeared to contain 10 seconds of audio. The first one was stamped with the exact time we started recording the interview, and the last one with the time we stopped.

I imported all the .au files into Audacity, thinking I could just do that and I'd be good to go. But it turns out Audacity doesn't import files one-after-the-other on the timeline. Instead, it imports them as if they were almost 400 individual tracks in a single 10-second audio project. I started the click-cut-end-paste process, and quickly realized it was going to take literally hours to fix this problem manually.

(Also, just for fun I decided to see if the program would actually play a 10-second project session with 400 tracks in it. No dice.)

I quickly gave up on the cut-paste option in search of something better. What I found was the aptly-named Audacity Recovery Utility. Apparently I'm not the only one who's needed to recover recorded audio seemingly lost during application crashes. It's a Python app and can be used on Windows, Mac and Linux.

The program is simple in its execution. You point it at a folder and it looks for audio files, tries to determine if they are all one block/set, or if they're more than one, and then attempts to put them together into a single .WAV file that you can then import back into Audacity (or anywhere else for that matter) for editing and processing.


The app will confirm what it finds and give you a chance to stop it from proceeding.


Tell it "Yes" and the program starts processing the temp files.


Out the other end, you'll eventually get a .WAV file that you can use.

Sure saved my backside today. Thanks to the author! By the way, supposedly Audacity 1.3.2 and newer (which is a beta release right now, not the stable version) have crash recovery built in. I'll probably have to check that out, as well.

Add/Read: Comments [18]
AudioBlogging | RunAs Radio | Tech
Thursday, 13 March 2008 13:43:13 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Friday, 14 March 2008 06:36:26 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I stopped using Audacity because of problems like you experienced.
I use a third party podcast producing application, myself.

But then again, with another kid on the way, I haven't had any time to even think about firing up the ole' mic.
Saturday, 22 March 2008 09:31:22 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Thanks, that really saved my bacon!!!!
Friday, 10 October 2008 23:31:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Thanks! I just did a podcast and my pc that was recording the call rebooted due to an update which lost the entire show. I'm using the recovery tool and I hope that it works. But thanks for your help.
Saturday, 01 November 2008 17:23:33 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Hi, cheers for this -- very helpful.
Had my first Audacity crash last night, admittedly my fault for trying to record a gig 7 hours without saving but I wasn't sure how stable Audacity is. Seems I can recover at least a few hours, the program is running now.

Thursday, 12 March 2009 09:15:19 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
This saved my arse this morning!!! ty so much for posting this!
Wednesday, 18 March 2009 22:18:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
thx so much. you saved my butt too. ;D luv ya.
Wednesday, 08 April 2009 09:50:03 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
awesome!!! thanks for posting this, I found it via google - I podcast with 4 other people and after a full hour session I hit stop and aud. froze on me. I too tried to put all of the files in one project and almost lost hope.

Thursday, 28 May 2009 00:45:48 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Thank you so much!!!
Monday, 15 June 2009 07:57:05 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Masive thanks mate! To you and the creator of the program!!! =)
Sunday, 26 July 2009 00:55:46 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Thank you very, very, very much. :)
Saturday, 29 August 2009 22:27:22 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Thank you for recommending the program. It saved me, too. I experienced the error message about every other recording I made in Audacity. It was frustrating to have to start again, in hopes that it wouldn't crash after I stopped the recording. After the last crash, I found your site, downloaded the program, and was able to recover the recording.

Thanks again.
Saturday, 03 October 2009 01:11:59 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I can't seem to even find the .au files in my temp folder after it crashed - had a 45 min interview so now I'm rather screwed. SIGH! My situation , where I can't even seem to locate my .au files, is not too good huh.... Does anyone know what to do in such a situation?
Saturday, 03 October 2009 08:45:21 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Keith: I ran across a similar problem a few weeks ago using Audacity, right after upgrading my Mac to Snow Leopard OS. Luckily when we record our show there's a separate phone track with my voice on it. Low quality of course, but at least I'm there. No idea if the OD change is related to the crash and disappearing files, but I can tell you I immediately switched over to my Windows XP machine to do future Audacity recording. I'm seriously considering buying some commercial recording software at this point. Audacity is cool, but just too flaky over the past couple years for me to feel comfortable with it. I've looked at Adobe Audition, just haven't convinced myself to pull the trigger on the expense quite yet.
Saturday, 21 November 2009 06:21:33 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Whatt folder should i tell it to browse? I dont know where my lost file is saved???!
D'Kella James
Thursday, 17 December 2009 10:47:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
D'Kella James - It may be too late for you now, but in the future, if you go to Edit > Preferences, it will show the name of the temporary folder (and you can change it).

Question - I recovered my file, but it sounds like the chipmunks. It must have been compressed and when I play it back it's about twice the speed. How do I fix this?

Thanks all.
Thursday, 17 December 2009 10:55:23 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)

I just found this link to answer my own question, scroll down to Chipmunk effect. I hope this is helpful to someone!
Saturday, 02 January 2010 22:22:24 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Saved a 3 hour recording for me! Thanks!
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 05:29:01 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#### Question - I recovered my file, but it sounds like the chipmunks. It must have been compressed and when I play it back it's about twice the speed. How do I fix this? ####

I'm guessing the audio playback was set to different hz. You should be able to find what it is from the file properties ie 22k 44k 96k etc, play it from that setting on your sound card and it should sound normal. The chip munks effect means its playing too fast so I am guessing something like your sound settings are now on 44k and the file is 22khx. (I may have this backward lol)

My question... which I might not need to ask now this recorvery has just finished again.. is about recovering last nights b-day party which I was a bit smashed and forgot I was recording, and then shut my pc down during ignoiring anything else that happened as I switched my monitor off and then a friend unplugged it.

I have tried twice now to recover over 4600 au files into one but even though I am happy these are the right files I am getting parts skipped on both the left and right channels. Firstly it wont let me import them all so I put 1000 in and finished the recovery. Both the left and right channels are different. I am hoping while it imports the wave back in (as 1 mono channel this time) it has simply put every other file to left and the rest to right.

YAYYYYY it has. I now have a saved portion of the party !

Nice one and thanks... hope if anyone gets the problems I had... this helps them too!

Bless up one and all.
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