iPhone voice memo lost to time.
June 5, 2012 8:21 AM   Subscribe

My iPhone's Voice Memo app said it recorded a 21 minute interview, but when I pull the file, it's only 2 minutes long and 1.4 megs. Is the rest of it still on there, and how can I recover it?

I sat down with an interview and popped on my iPhone's Voice Memo app like I have a 100 times before. I finished up, saw that it saved a voice memo that was 21 minutes long, and went on about my day.

I came home, popped open my iPhone in iExplorer (so that I can pull files directly from it) and found that one interview that was supposed to be 21 minutes long was only 2 minutes long. I looked at my iPhone again, and it still shows that it was 21 minutes long, but when I go to play it, it's only 2 minutes long.

I've checked the Apple Discussion boards, but I can only find issues referring to people recording and a 0 second file.

My phone thinks it recorded for 21 minutes, but it's only showing 2 minutes of talking. Is the rest of it on my phone somewhere? Is it lost to time? Why does my phone think it recorded so long when it only caught 2 minutes worth?

I'm on an iPhone 4s and using Windows 7 on my laptop.
posted by SNWidget to Technology (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Also - as far as I know, I wasn't out of space. I double checked to make sure I had room, and at the time, I had at least 3 gigs of room.
posted by SNWidget at 8:25 AM on June 5, 2012

Can you use MediaInfo to generate a report about the file? (You probably want "text view"). It's possible that part of the file's header got corrupted and thus applications are misreporting the length of the file. If that's the case, you can sometimes play around until you find an application that ignores the header defect or graft a repaired header onto the file using a hex editor.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:32 AM on June 5, 2012

Response by poster: MediaInfo tells me that the size is 1.8MiB and the file is 2min 32sec long, which is the same as what iTunes is telling me when I play it.

My iPhone still shows it to be 21 minutes long, though. I'm afraid I'm completely fucked right now.
posted by SNWidget at 8:40 AM on June 5, 2012

What happens when you tell Voice Memo to play it back?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:42 AM on June 5, 2012

Response by poster: It shows a 2min 32 second voice memo and plays it through. The timer bar thing slides across and reaches the right side at the end of the 2min 32sec. The disparity is between what it says in the list view (21min 25sec) and when I actually play it (2min 32 sec).
posted by SNWidget at 8:46 AM on June 5, 2012

Response by poster: In case (in my panic) I'm not describing it clearly, here's a screen shot of what I'm seeing.

The rest of them are fine, and show the same duration in the list and on the play bar at the bottom.
posted by SNWidget at 9:01 AM on June 5, 2012

If the program that recorded it isn't playing it right, the only suggestion I've got for you is to throw every media player you can find at the thing, always playing directly from the iPhone. But if even the OS sees the file in its truncated form, I'm not sure what hope there is that you can find software that will do better. Going forward, I know it's a pain in the ass, but this is why I supplement my recorded interviews with note-taking.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:14 AM on June 5, 2012

Oh, speaking of OSes. By the same token of throwing every bit of software available at it, can you try hooking it up to a Mac?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:32 AM on June 5, 2012

This sounds like a variable bit rate problem I've seen elsewhere, but I can't imagine that this is an Apple error. The fishy bit might be at iExplorer end.

Copy the file across, leaving the original intact, and try running VBR fix on it. Let us know how that goes (it might do nothing)
posted by 0bvious at 9:58 AM on June 5, 2012

I've seen this before. Bottom line is that the Voice Memo is not suitable for recording items longer than a few seconds. I had a client who had recorded hours of board meetings over several different memos. MOST of them did not come over into iTunes properly. You'd get a piece of the memo and not much else.

It's been a number of months since I worked on this with my client, so my memory might be foggy. I also should offer as a caveat that this is pre-iOS5. Stuff may have changed.

My recollection is that the sound you want IS on the iPhone, but is not coming over into iTunes. The memo gets broken up into several files and do not get reassembled within iTunes. If you can browse the main filesystem with iExplore, you will be able to rescue the rest of the recording. I seem to remember that the pieces of the recordings that didn't make it into iTunes had different extensions but I _could_ import them into iTunes once I had brought them over from the phone.

Maybe if you send me a picture of what you're seeing with iExplore, I can help.

Oh, and please get something like the Blue FiRE app which will not screw up your memos no matter how long you record.
posted by tcv at 9:59 AM on June 5, 2012

Response by poster: Oh, I'll definitely be using something else next time.

This is what I see in iExplore. I've marked the file. The file above it is another long interview I did that is an appropriate size. I don't seen anything else on that day, though, besides those two, which makes me believe it's gone.
posted by SNWidget at 10:11 AM on June 5, 2012

Have you played the above file to make sure it's not some combination of two memos?

Also: It's possible the files I am referring to are elsewhere on the phone. I'll see if I was smart enough to write this up in a support ticket. ;-)
posted by tcv at 10:16 AM on June 5, 2012

I was not smart. :-(

I encourage you to rummage through the other directories on the phone.
posted by tcv at 10:21 AM on June 5, 2012

Response by poster: Nothing happened with VBRfix.

I don't have a Mac available right now, but I tried it with a bunch of audio players, and nothing.

I tried playing all of the other files in that folder, and none of them have anything. It's just the first 2 minutes of that interview and nothing else.

I'll keep poking around other directories. I've looking, but I haven't seen anything that could possibly be it.
posted by SNWidget at 10:24 AM on June 5, 2012

Does iExplore show you files marked as hidden or ones with unusual extensions?
posted by tcv at 10:28 AM on June 5, 2012

Response by poster: Yeah, I think I'm seeing everything. I found another program (God, I'm going to have to scrub my registry after this) that puts the file structure into Windows Explorer, and I used that (I have hidden files enabled).

Nothing seems to come up that would be the right size.
posted by SNWidget at 10:32 AM on June 5, 2012

I wouldn't worry so much about "right size." My recollection is that the file splits didn't seem to follow a pattern.

I wish I could remember more about that day, but it's been so long ago.
posted by tcv at 10:42 AM on June 5, 2012

Response by poster: I can't find anything that even seems likely (or unlikely) to be my missing data. Fuck.

The pisser is that I remember obsessively checking to make sure it was still recording, because I was paranoid about it cutting off for whatever reason. It looked like it was recording, and then it told me the file was 21minute long, and I pushed play to test the sound (but I guess I didn't look at the slider).
posted by SNWidget at 11:01 AM on June 5, 2012

Yeah, I'm sorry. The only other thing I can think of offhand would be to browse a previous backup from the days after the recording. Of course, this presumes you synchronized with iTunes at some point.
posted by tcv at 11:04 AM on June 5, 2012

« Older Android email question   |   How to sell or give away a load of old Beano... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.