How do I get this possibly botched recording off my voice recorder?
April 4, 2021 8:21 AM   Subscribe

I recorded an interview on my super eye voice recorder. Then I stupidly flipped the power off switch rather than the stop recording switch. The recording title appears on the tiny screen of the recorder, but won’t play, and when I plug the recorder into a MacBook the file doesn’t even appear.

The error message I get when I try to play the recording from the recorder itself says “please play on pc or mobile”. When I plug the recorder into the Mac I have access to, the file doesn’t show up in the recordings folder or any other folder.
posted by The Last Sockpuppet to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Response by poster: Sorry, I should say - I want to be able to copy and play the recording and back it up elsewhere .

And thank you!
posted by The Last Sockpuppet at 8:23 AM on April 4, 2021

If it presents the raw file system when you plug it into the computer, I've used file system imaging and forensic extraction tools like foremost to rescue lost files from a similar device. There's some GUI based tools, usually described as photo rescue tools that might be able to do the same thing in a more automated way.

How comfortable are you with the command line?
posted by Candleman at 9:11 AM on April 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

My uneducated guess is that the recorder writes an invisible temporary file that's cleanly wrapped up and made visible when you stop the recording. By cutting off the power, you interrupted this process, and the temp file was never finalized.

You can toggle the visibility of hidden files on your Mac by pressing shift-command-period. If this reveals a temp file, you may be able to move and rename it into a visible, playable audio file. (This key combination also reveals hidden directories, and another possibility is that the temporary files reside in an invisible directory rather than being invisible themselves.)

If you're comfortable in the terminal, you can do the same with the command

ls -a

Invisible files simply have a name that begins with a period. Remove the period to make the file visible.

Of course, it's possible that the file is mangled (that is, not a well-formed audio file) as well as invisible, and this won't do anything about that.
posted by pullayup at 9:11 AM on April 4, 2021

Response by poster: So I don’t see the file on a Mac; but I do on a pc, and it shows up as an MP3 but 0kb. I’ve looked around the hidden files and see many files dated today, but none of them is of any size. I might try a forensic tool. I can use the command line but am not intuitive with it. Thanks so much folks for the answers so far!
posted by The Last Sockpuppet at 9:35 AM on April 4, 2021

Sounds like the file system got corrupted (was not finalized).

Depends on how badly you want this file back. I'm not sure there's something that can reconstruct the file for you, at least, not with any accuracy. If the file was deleted there's a chance of restore it. But as the file was never correctly written, It's very like it's lost forever.
posted by kschang at 9:40 AM on April 4, 2021

Best answer: The most important thing here will be to avoid making any changes to the media in the recorder. If the data you want to recover does indeed still exist, it will exist in blocks not currently marked as belonging to any file in the filesystem.

Chances of recovery are slim, but good PC-based options are PhotoRec (free, command line) and ZAR (limited trialware, GUI). Both need access to the media to be recovered from on a block level, not just a file level. If your recorder looks like a USB flash drive from the PC's point of view, they will have that.

If it looks more like a camera, they probably won't. In that case you might still have a chance if the recorder uses removable media like a micro SD card or similar; remove that from the recorder and use a USB card reader to connect it to the PC for recovery.
posted by flabdablet at 10:22 AM on April 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

2nding not using it any more until you've attempted to make an image of the drive. I can write up some instructions but don't have time at the moment.
posted by Candleman at 12:09 PM on April 4, 2021

Response by poster: To update, I just wrote the thing without the splendid quotes I had so carefully elicited. The clients loved it anyway. I now sing a stupid little song titled “what button do I push” when I turn the recorder off. Thus far this has kept me pushing the correct buttons in the correct order!
posted by The Last Sockpuppet at 5:26 PM on April 9, 2021

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