Lifehacker hard drive freezer

Save a Failed Hard Drive in Your Freezer, Redux  August 8, 2015 – 03:30 pm

Save a Failed Hard Drive in Your Freezer, ReduxYears ago we suggested sticking a borked hard drive in your freezer for a chance at recovering your data before the drive goes completely kaput. Developer site Server Zone highlights the same tip, with more detailed instructions for saving your freezer drive.

  1. Remove the hard drive from the computer.
  2. Place the hard drive inside of a zip top freezer bag. (don't buy a
    cheap bag.)
  3. Place the wrapped hard drive inside of ANOTHER zip top freezer bag.
    (yes, you need to do this)
  4. Place the double wrapped hard drive in the coldest part of your
  5. Leave the hard drive in the freezer for 12 hours at least. You want
    it good and cold! (see figure 2 below)
  6. Once very chilled, install the hard drive in your computer and
    start pulling off data. Begin with the most valuable data.
  7. At some point, the hard drive will fail again. When it does, mark
    the last successfully copied data, pull out the hard drive, double wrap
    it again and stick it in the Chill Chest for another 12 hours.
  8. You may need to do this a number of times to get all the data you
    want, or until the hard drive stops working completely.

Hard drives work sort of like old records, except rather than one record and needle, hard drives have several small platters spinning really fast that are accessed by a read/write head. In theory, I believe, this would work with hard drives with slightly warped platters; unfrozen, your busted drive is grinding the head against the platters as a result. By freezing the hard drive, you're hopefully shrinking the platters enough that they're no longer rubbing up against the head—temporarily, at least. Keep in mind that it's not always a sure thing, but if you're desperate, it's worth a try.


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  • avatar The hard-drive "freezer" technique -- how long is too long? | Yahoo Answers
    • I don't think there is a time limit but there is only so much that freezing your hard drive will be able to do. Someone did it for 24 hours and only got 20 minutes of use which may not be enought time to back up everything.

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