Missing audio files or VST / AU 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 'trial' 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 folder 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:

  • Project Files
  1. The default location for user projects is ...\Users\[your computer account]\Documents\Image-Line\FL Studio\Projects. This is normally under the User data folder location:
  2. Check your 'User data folder' path has not changed OR you if have activated Cloud Backup options for your Operating System.
  • Audio files
  1. Set the root folder 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 folder and or move them to a known location OR
  4. Set the folder 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 folder 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.

  • VST / AU Plugins
  1. First try a Verify plugins with the following options - 'Rescan previously verified plugins' + 'Rescan plugins with errors'. NOTE: If you are using an Apple Silicon device for the first time please see this Knowledge Base article on rectifying plugin issues.
  2. Identify the exact name of one or more of the missing plugins. Let's say the missing plugin is 'plugin name' for example.
  3. Use your operating system, search tools, to scan your installation drive:
    • Windows - Usually 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.
    • macOS - Usually developers install VST plugins to the default folders (../Library/Audio/Plug-ins/VST and ../Library/Audio/Plug-ins/VST3, or Users/[user account]/Library/Audio/Plug-ins/VST and Users/[user account]/Library/Audio/Plug-ins/VST3) but if not, search for 'plugin name.vst' and 'plugin name.vst3'. Or just '*.vst' and '*.vst3'. Similarly with AU plugins, to Macintosh HD:/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/Components/. The extension for AU plugins is '.component'.
  4. If the plugin is found, set the path to the folder where the 'plugin name.dll' file is located as the VST plugins extra search folder, or the folder above it if the plugin is a sub-folder of a folder containing other plugins.
  • FL Studio Native Plugins - It is possible that the 'Favorite' switch hasn't been selected for the plugin and so it does not show in the list when adding plugins. See the section on adding Favorite Plugins as part of the normal installation procedure.

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