How to recover from crash after editing footprint

today I was using Pcbnew and instead of opening a library and editing the footprint there I opted instead to right click on my existing footprint, and selected “Open in Footprint Editor”. From there I was able to edit my footprint, which happens to be for a fairly complex assembly. This took me nearly 3 hours of editing, along with regular saves along the way. I had just finished my footprint, including 3D model imported, and was putting the finishing touches to it. I attempted to move a line (Referenced move) which brought up the menu as it usually does, but unfortunately when I put in my move measurement it froze for several seconds before crashing out, shutting down not only the footprint editor, but also the PCB instance that had opened the footprint.

“Not to worry” I thought as I re-opened Pcbnew, as at most I should have only lost about 10 minutes work. Well guess what? All my work for this afternoon is gone! None of my saves in the footprint editor are visible. I have tried opening the footprint again by right clicking on the footprint in pcbnew and selecting “Open in Footprint Editor”. I have also looked in the original library, but all I see is the foot print as it stood from earlier today!

Where has it magically saved my footprint to? Can I recover it? Was it saved at all while in the footprint editor? I have noticed that when I clicked save in the footprint editor, in the background the main pcb in Pcbnew suddenly flashes up the “Save” icon, indicating there is unsaved work. Does this mean that work in the footprint editor is only truly saved if you first click save in the footprint editor, and then when you exit and click save in Pcbnew? If this is the case, this is definitely a UI bug, as people would expect that when you click save, your work is saved.

Any help would be appreciated, as otherwise I’m going to have to start over :frowning:

For reference, I am using Kicad Version 5.1.5 on Ubuntu 20.04. Plenty RAM and horsepower on this machine and crashes like this are exceedingly rare.


Hello @witenitenz

You may not get much help as 5.1.5 is ancient and many many fixes have been made since.
5.1.5 ended as 5.1.12.
5.1.12, itself, has been recently superceded by 6.0.0

thanks for the heads up. I realized my version was slightly out, didn’t think it was that far out. Ordinarily I keep everything up to date, however I’m now waiting for the pending Version 6 release… I’m an infrequent user of Kicad (I used to do a lot more work in Protel 99 and Altium, but sadly my vocation has moved on and I’m more into software development these days. However when I do need to design a board I am continually impressed by the improvements and features being worked on in Kicad. Fantastic package.

It was released as a Christmas present to all. You can download it here:

I’m editing a footprint in 6 to see if your problem exists there. Will return in a few minutes.

Cheers. When you do a change in the footprint editor, watch the Save icon in the background for your PCB as you click on the Save icon in the footprint editor. You will see it change to indicate that there have been changes and a save is required. As I said earlier, this is what made me think that perhaps the footprint editor save simply puts info into a buffer, and you then have to make sure you exit the footprint editor and click Save in your PCB to actually save your work.

Hope that makes sense.

I followed your work method using 6.0.0
If there was bug in 5.1.5 it has been fixed now.

Thanks for checking this. Much appreciated.

I’m about halfway through laying out my footprint again, with a renewed paranoia for saving and double checking every now and then that it is truly saved. I am editing the component directly through the library editor now, not trusting the instance of the footprint editor opened via PCBnew.

Thanks for the heads up too on the new version of Kicad. I think I will do an upgrade tomorrow too, and see how the new version 6 runs!

Upon opening the FP editor, a pop-up reads “saving will update the board only”
After editing and saving in the FP editor I closed the editor, then attempted to close PCB… up popped a sign "If you don’t save, changes will be lost.
I saved and closed PCB and then up came Schematic with the component modified, highlighted on the diagram.

It doesn’t help you regain those lost hours though :slightly_frowning_face:

I have been watching this thread; thinking I had not much to contribute. But I wonder whether @witenitenz had been saving only the footprint editor within the pcb editor, or did he also save the pcb file?

Much better than any 5.x.x, however no documentation yet.
Read the cautions though: keep copies of projects in 5 as once converted to 6 they can no longer be opened in 5.


Then the programme crashed before he finally saved in the PCB editor.

I tried moving a pad and then a line with the line segment property numbers but no crashing.
I suppose I could simulate a crash by hitting the reset button on the front of my desktop computer???

The warning sign in the Footprint editor says “update board only” so I will assume the save in the FP editor saves only to the board and not the project.

No, as I was preoccupied in the footprint editor, at no time was I flashing back to PCBnew to save there. I thought (as is conventional in any UI) that hitting the save in the footprint editor meant my work was actually saved!

Cheers! Once I’ve moved forward version wise, I doubt I’ll ever be going back to 5.

Is there a big yellow warning sign about saving in the footprint editor when opened through the PCB editor?

In 5.1 there was this:


Zero means disabled. If it’s enabled it should have created backup files after n minutes. However, it doesn’t work as we could expect. It creates the backup file only when the user saves, so it can’t help in case like this.

V6, on the other hand, can autosave backups automatically, but it has to be configured properly and you have to read the UI hover-over tooltips to understand how it works. Additionally v6 offers to restore files in case of crash and restart.

That seems reasonable. I like 5.99>6.00 better than 5.1X.

That sounds like the experiment as I would envision it. But maybe the question is moot now. Also; I would think that someone ought to know the answer without having to run the experiment.

Thanks for all the info and tips guys. I’ve now laid out the footprint from scratch again. About to upgrade to Version 6. Cheers!

Before I conducted the experiment, I decided to try something really different, radical, and exciting for me…
I read all the instructions on the page before clicking :slightly_smiling_face:

Hence, the above comment in bold about the big yellow box. Someone did know.

My thinking is that if you do not save the board then saving the footprint within the board might not provide much other than being a necessary step (when nothing is going wrong.)

But that defies all training and experience…

My thinking is: Does (saving in the FP editor within the board editor) only save to RAM or does it immediately write the changes to disk? My guess is that it is only saving to the board file in RAM. So perhaps if I am doing a lot of footprint editing within the pcb editor, I should (save the footprint, back out of that editor, and save the board file) every 5-10 minutes. (My modus operandi is to save frequently and I do not rely on autosave.)

As someone who is not a programmer, I am continually surprised by the ways in which the software user interface can vary. Do you need to click after the keystroke? What does the escape key do? I develop Microsoft based habits (some of which are inconsistent within Microsoft) and 90% of the underlying assumptions go out the window when using other software.