Put my dead hard drive in the freezer

In summary, my wife's computer hard drive failed, but because she had backed up her data on a partition on the same drive, we were able to recover most of her important files.
  • #1
Artman
1,512
36
My wife's computer hard drive failed the other day. She backed up her data, but on a partition on the same drive. The failure was mechanical, the spindle motor froze up. So accessing the backup partition was also out of the question. I was afraid we were doomed, but I read about people who had this problem and put the drive in the freezer to contract and free up some of the moving metal parts.

I put the drive in my freezer overnight. The next day I placed it in a USB external hard drive enclosure, connected that to my laptop, powered it on and the drive spun up and worked for about an hour and a half before slowing to a stop again, long enough to retrieve most of my wife's critical documents.

Thought I'd share this with you all in case something similar ever happens to you.
 
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  • #2
Cool tip! Thanks. (oops, no pun intended)
 
  • #3
Wooo...good job dude.

And yes, was it a Seagate HDD?
 
Last edited:
  • #4
Would there be concerns about frost getting on the platters / heads or electronics? I guess you could just throw some dessicant packs in a big ZipLock back with the drive and not leave it for more than a day or two.
 
  • #5
MATLABdude said:
Would there be concerns about frost getting on the platters / heads or electronics? I guess you could just throw some dessicant packs in a big ZipLock back with the drive and not leave it for more than a day or two.

Hard drives are air tight and very well sealed to prevent dust or other contaminants entering them so a build up of moisture due to cold temperatures isn't an issue.
 
  • #6
Topher925 said:
Hard drives are air tight and very well sealed to prevent dust or other contaminants entering them so a build up of moisture due to cold temperatures isn't an issue.

I think most new hard drives now have little filtered vent or 'breather hole' to equalize pressures, along with an attendant "Do not cover this hole!" warning sticker on the outside:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_disk_drive#Integrity
 
  • #7
I did not mention it, but I did put the drive in a ziplock bag, but never thought about adding some desiccant packs. That is a good suggestion.

I was concerned about condensation effecting the electronics or platters, but it seemed to stay pretty dry.

dE_logics, no, it was not a Seagate. I'm not where I can get to the drive right now, but I think it was a Toshiba.
 
  • #8
Artman said:
My wife's computer hard drive failed the other day. She backed up her data, but on a partition on the same drive.

Well, that's not a backup, techincally...

The failure was mechanical, the spindle motor froze up. So accessing the backup partition was also out of the question. I was afraid we were doomed, but I read about people who had this problem and put the drive in the freezer to contract and free up some of the moving metal parts.

I put the drive in my freezer overnight. The next day I placed it in a USB external hard drive enclosure, connected that to my laptop, powered it on and the drive spun up and worked for about an hour and a half before slowing to a stop again, long enough to retrieve most of my wife's critical documents.

Thought I'd share this with you all in case something similar ever happens to you.

Nope, but I admire you ingenuity, and hope you used that time to make another copy!
 

Related to Put my dead hard drive in the freezer

1. Can putting my dead hard drive in the freezer fix it?

There is a common belief that freezing a dead hard drive can temporarily restore its functionality. While it may work in some cases, it is not a guaranteed solution and can potentially cause more damage.

2. How does freezing a hard drive help?

Freezing a hard drive is believed to cause the metal parts inside to contract, allowing the drive to spin freely. This may temporarily fix the issue if the drive is not completely damaged. However, it is not a reliable solution and should not be used as a first course of action.

3. How long should I keep the hard drive in the freezer?

The recommended time for keeping a hard drive in the freezer is between 12-24 hours. This allows the drive to cool down and possibly fix any minor issues. However, it is important to note that the longer the drive is kept in the freezer, the higher the risk of condensation forming inside the drive, which can cause further damage.

4. Will freezing the hard drive erase my data?

Freezing a hard drive will not erase your data. However, if the drive is already completely damaged, it is possible that the freezing process can further damage the drive and make data recovery more difficult or impossible.

5. Are there any other methods to try before putting my hard drive in the freezer?

Before attempting to freeze your hard drive, it is recommended to try other methods such as using data recovery software or seeking professional help from a data recovery specialist. These methods are more likely to successfully retrieve your data without causing further damage to the drive.

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