The program that i recommend to any podcaster for recording, no matter how experienced they are is Audacity. Its free and rarely ever fails. However as with anything free there is some trade off, the trade off here is in the niceities of features, specifically the lack of a built in recovery tool. However despite any problems i have ever had with the tool the benefits of being a full featured audio editor have never been overshadowed by the occasional crashes. I have crafted this article to hopefully help you along recovering from a crash.

To Minimize crashes:

Just as a small aside, try to run audacity on a second machine as a record only workstation, the less going on on the machine the better. The more programs running at any one time increase the likelihood of memory allocation errors.

So your program crashed huh

This should not be a problem. Simply check out the Audacity wiki and you find a bevy of friendly choices for how to recover your files. I am partial to the Audacity Recovery tool. You can get this for PC, Intel Mac and PPC Mac.

First thing you are going to want to do is find the temporary folder where audacity saves the horde of .au files. Re-Open Audacity and pay special attention to the message that comes up which say it found temporary files, would you like to delete.


This keeps the previous session’s data intact. On a Mac open the Preferences under the Audacity menu, on a PC the preferences are located under the Edit menu. Click on the directories tab. The directory displayed here is where your files have been saved. For the time being we need to separate out into Mac Vs PC.

On a PC:

If you are on a PC copy the directory listing and paste it into windows explorer to get there. Move the files to a new directory to keep them from getting overwritten. Make a directory named backup on your desktop and copy the files here.

On a Mac:

The temp directory is hidden from the finder, you can’t click through to get there without some special programs. Lets take a different route to save your files. First off creat a directory on your desktop called Backup. Then open the terminal window, If you have never used this don’t worry very simple commands here. Terminal is located in your Utilities folder under Applications. You should see an all Text screen come up. Copy the path of the directory out of the Audacity Preferences> Directories menu. it should look something like this /tmp/audacity1.2-pzul but it will probably have your user name at the end rather than mine.

In the Terminal window begin to type this string sudo mv /tmp/audacity1.2-pzul/* after you have that typed out without hitting enter click on the backup directory you created on the desktop and drag it onto the terminal window this will drop the path for the directory into the terminal the final command should look something like this sudo mv /tmp/audacity1.2-pzul/* /Users/pzul/Desktop/backup hit enter. You might get asked for your password, this is a security precaution. After the command completes you have now moved the contents of the Temp folder onto your desktop where you can use them. You can close terminal and head on to the next step where we rejoin the PC users.

Onward to recovery:

After you have the Audacity Recovery tool installed, run the program it will ask you for the directory of the .au files, point the program to the location of the backup you made on your desktop. If everything is good you should wait a couple minutes and have a usable WAV at the end of it. If you were recording in stereo you will get two separate files. If you had a detailed recording sessions with multiple track and splices up you might end up with a great number of files you will have to sort through.

You can then re import the WAV into Audacity and continue recording or editing as you see fit at that point. Remember if you are working on a complex editing project save early and often. My problem is that I record my show in one shot, straight through so if the program crashes i could theoretically loose 45 minutes of data.

Chipmunk Effect and How to Fix:

Last night I was recovering a session and the resulting WAV file was half as long as it should have been. The recovery tool makes the assumption that you are recording at 44100Khz, so since i usually record at 22050Khz my 32 minutes of audio played chipmunk fast at 16 minutes flat. This was a problem i pulled my hair out for over an hour. Audacity to the rescue again. Under the effects menu their is an option for Change Speed. I tried to preview this to no avail, it would not let me see what would happen. I was hesitant to play around with this setting and risk another crash, but after an hour of looking for a fix for the bitrate i decided to try and drop the speed by 50%, it worked like a charm. My 16 minutes of chipmunk like audio streched back out into the buttery tones you have come to know and love.

Chipmunk effect on Online web players:

This is just a note as some of the flash based audio players available online sometimes play audio at a chipmunk sounding clip. This is because most flash players assume that your audio was recorded at a multiple of 11025 Khz, if its not then it won’t play right. It has nothing to do with the Audacity recovery process, but i wanted to put the information out there anyway.

More Tips

One tip I’ll give you right off the bat, don’t move the files to a different type of machine. I had the Audacity Recovery Tool installed on my PC, I was recording on my Powerbook, audacity crashed. So I moved the files over, to no avail, the recovery tool crashed. Tried my Intel Mac, which also had the recovery tool installed. No Dice. Finally i gave in downloaded the tool for the PowerPC and it worked fine.

Hopefully this little guide has helped someone figure out how to resurrect their work and continue using this awesome free program.