Missing audio files or VST plugins

If you open a project and some, or all, Channel buttons are red or a plugin instrument is replaced with an empty channel (and you are sure it's not a 'demo' plugin), this means the samples or instruments nominated for those channels can't be found. You will have been shown a pop-up message about missing data when the project was loaded.

Recovering missing files

FL Studio searches its own installation directory for samples/plugins and then the Browser extra search folders for audio & VST plugins extra search folder for VST plugins. If you have no idea where the samples or plugins are, while your hard-drive is still spinning there is hope:

  1. Set the root directory of each hard-drive on your system (e.g. C:, D:, E:, etc.) as Browser extra search folders folders.
  2. Reload the project. FL Studio will now search the entire contents of each hard-drive set. This will take some time.
  3. If the samples were found, select the Channel, click on the waveform display of the Audio Clip or Sampler channel and drag it onto the Browser. The Browser will open at the location from where the file was loaded. Note the directory and or move them to a known location OR
  4. Set the directory where the samples are located as a Browser extra search folder.
  5. Remove any root search location/s (e.g. C:, D:, E:, etc.) from the extra search folder/s, as they will make future file searches very slow.

    TIP: It's a good idea to create a directory where you save all your audio files (using any number of sub-folders is OK), then you only need to set one 'Browser extra search folder' location.

  1. Identify the exact name of one or more of the missing plugins. Let's say the missing plugin is 'plugin name' for example.
  2. Use Windows Explorer to search your installation drive (e.g. C:) and any other drives you have installed for 'plugin name.dll'. All VST plugins end in '.dll'. You are simply adding .dll onto the name of the missing plugin in the Windows Explorer search window.
  3. If the plugin is found, set the path to the directory where the 'plugin name.dll' file is located as the VST plugins extra search folder, or the directory above it if the plugin is a sub-directory of a folder containing other plugins.

For more information, there is a detailed explanation of FL Studio's installation file structure in the section on Updating FL Studio.