Screwed by Audacity

This morning I recorded my long promised audio essay and because of an Audacity problem it is all gone. Audacity said it saved, but there were no files there. This is the last time I will ever use it for recording initial audio. I’m not sure if I’ll be moving to Wiretap or Audio Hijack, but I’ve got to have something that records realtime to an AIFF or WAV or some other format that will still be there and usable if the computer crashes or the disk gets full or something. This is downright heartbreaking to have lost all that work.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.

20 thoughts on “Screwed by Audacity”

  1. Linc Fessenden says:

    Try rezound. Works really well for recording.

  2. mike dunn says:

    in a recent dsc – adam went through why he uses audio hijack pro to go to aiff then converts to mp3, for the exact reason you mention dave…

    he also said he might try to meet w/ them to attempt to “guide” them towards an even more podcast-creation friendly feature set…

    just a thought…

    to bad about the lost essay, even though i’m spiritually inclined (surfing or snowboarding on sunday morning is my idea of touching “god”) i’m definately looking forward to your core dump on being an atheist…

    good luck when you re-record it, hopefully the gremlins will be kind 😉

  3. Bummer Dave. I’m really sorry to hear that. You record through a mixer, right? If you had a minidisc recorder, I’d suggest running a signal out to that as a non-computer-based parallel recording. If not, a VCR works quite well too. But most VCRs require a video signal input too, or they won’t record the audio. Try it. Maybe hack some video signal from somewhere like a video game console or something. Analog recordings on video tape are near-CD fidelity, so they make a great backup. Sending good vibes your way….

  4. Dave says:

    Thanks guys. Linc, I’m doing this on my iBook – does that run on OS X?

    Mike, I looked at both programs and I think I’m leaning towards Wiretap (which is what Mike Butler just recommended to me.) My big worry is that when I redo it I will have lost the spontaneity and it will sound rote and funky, saying the same things all over again. On the other hand, it might be better because I’ve practiced and will be able to get it better organized. Who knows? It will be what it will be.

    Darren, I’m not at home so I have nothing available except my iBook. I don’t have the possibility of an external recorder right now. Sweet jeeminy I wish I did.

  5. Jeff Nemcher says:


    What a bummer, sorry to hear it. I have been having Audacity problems with my set-up as well and have reverted to a legacy copy of SoundForge for initial recording of my show. I still use Audacity for post production but not for capture. Hope you find a stable solutions.

  6. Andy Herron says:

    oh man that sucks 🙁

    I don’t have a mac so I can’t help with the software choice, but I’m looking forward to hearing this!

  7. I’ve been using Audacity as well for podcasts, only on the Windows platform. I’ve found it good, until something goes wrong and the system hangs or crashes. Bye bye work..

  8. Matt Brubeck says:

    Hi, I’m one of the Audacity developers.

    As far as I know, no one has ever reported a situation where Audacity claimed to save a file but no file was created. If you can provide any details, we would appreciate it. We can’t find and fix bugs if no one tells us they exist!

    What versions of Audacity and Mac OS X? Do you think the disk might have been full? Were you saving an Audacity project or exporting a sound file (or both)? Did Audacity find unsaved temporary files the next time you started the program? Were there any error messages, crashes, or anything else out of the ordinary?

  9. “Did Audacity find unsaved temporary files the next time you started the program?”

    To my knowledge, having suffered a few instances where a system crash has occured, Audacity has never found unsaved temporary files, but I guess this isn’t the best place to dicuss it, particularily as Dave is using Mac OSX, and I’m using windows 🙂

  10. Ken Kennedy says:

    That’s messed up, Dave. Bummer. On my Linux box at least, audacity saves the temp files as I record to /tmp/audacity1.2-kkennedy ; if I crash the prg (with xkill or kill), it finds them on next prg startup. Of course, since it’s /tmp, it’d get wiped if I rebooted…but the location is configurable. As noted above, though…I’m not using OS X, so YMMV. I am bummed about the essay though…I know you may not be as satisfied, but I hope you redo it. I was definitely looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (AAA: Also An Atheist *grin*)

  11. Dave says:

    Matt, Audacity 1.2.3 and OS 10.3.7. The disk did get full as I was attempting a compress operation. I emptied the trash and then made a little edit in the file so that it would reenable the save option. I then saved. It said that it saved, and acted like it did. I closed Audacity, and on restart tried to reopen the project. It gave me an error and then I looked inside the folder and found it completely empty. I checked the /tmp directory and there was nothing in there. Audacity didn’t say anything about temp files on startup.

    There you have it. I also noticed that Audacity is a double contributor to this running out of space, because it uses a lot of virtual memory. I’m now doing my original recording with Wiretap and then editing with Audacity afterwards.

  12. Matt Brubeck says:

    Thanks for the extra info. Looks like it’s time to test our low-disk-space error handling again…

  13. Anonymous says:

    More podcasters discover the reason I opted for a stand alone recording setup. This time the gemlins struck Dave and Drew.

  14. I’ve had Audacity crash in the middle of a 4 hour concert with a tap off the sound board; after spending weeks trying to reassemble the temporary files, I finally managed to do so with a Perl script, a shell script, and an obscure AIFF-concatenating utility.

    I’ve heard that Sound Studio is an acceptably good sound recording/editing program, but I’d rather use something simple and effective; it sounds like you’re having luck with Wiretap, so I’ll go with that.

    Windows 3.1 included SNDREC32.EXE, which was very stable and has been part of the OS for more than 10 years. What’s the equivalent for OS X?

  15. Alex says:

    I thought Audacity was great for recording songs and mixning for my band, but now its silenced a load of the tracks for no reason, and theres nothing i can do about it because it was absolutely free!!!

  16. Alan says:

    I have been using Audacity to edit my WAV files for podcasting – I now have a file that decides whether or not to play the sound without any reason. It will go silent for a few seconds (while still apparently scrolling through the recording), and then sound will reappear. This is in both the file that Audacity produces, and the MP3 I made from it. Rather annoying!! I can’t rely on it to be OK the day after I’ve done the editing!!

    I used Audacity 1.2.4 on Win XP.

    Anyone else with this problem?

  17. dave says:

    Alan (and Alex with a comment I didn’t notice),

    Unfortunately, this is the price you pay for not dropping $500 on the big daddy audio programs. I believe that Audacity stores it’s files on disk as a series of 1 meg AU files, so what you are seeing as one long continuous wave form is it walking through that list of files. If you are getting seconds of dropout, it seems like somethings bad with a single on of those sub-files on your system. I don’t know what you can do about that, but the Audacity guys seem receptive. Note that in this very comment thread years ago was one of the Audacity contributors. If you ask them they will probably help.

  18. Sammy says:

    Hey I am so glad that somebody else has had this happen. I’m trying to mix files for work and I’m about to spend all day trying to piece the backup files together. I have to do two whole chapters of an audio book. Wish me luck. Nobody here gets why it takes so long. Geeze. Well if anybody has any tips, let me know please. I’m gonna look into it a little more and then start the long process. I have plenty of space on my computer, but Audacity frequently has errors and crashes on this mac. Even if the file is saved, it usually doesn’t open again if it happens. LAME that.


  19. jason says:

    aaaah audacity just crashed when i highlighted a long excerpt from a track to delete…bloody hell…took me ages to record and perfect =.=

    i think im gonna start learning how to use ableton now. i liked audacity cause of its simplicity

  20. 604joe says:

    Audacity 1.2.3 had a serious bug to fix .. at least I hope they fix’d it by now.. or else some cr3w my7e t4k3 7h3m by w0rm 4774k3..

    w4rning: do not run out of harddrive space..(with audacity 1.2.3) !! hha DDOS button

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