Freeze your hard drive for data recovery?

I woke up this morning to hear that horrible clacking noise (unfortunately, I’ve heard it before on an older computer) coming from my external hard drive and see a “delayed write failed” error message on my computer.  Fortunately, I don’t have anything critical on the external ... mostly just a lot of MP3s. I was hunting around the innertubes for data recovery options when I came across this blog post that says that freezing your hard drive works as a short-term solution for data recovery.  Judging from the comments on the blog post (and on other message boards I found afterwards) this appears to have worked for some people. I don’t think Rumproast gets a lot of geek traffic, but has anyone successfully tried this?  Also, can I just put the whole external hard drive, case and all, into the freezer or do I have to crack it open and take out the disk (or disks)?

We now return to our regular non-geek programming.

Posted by Kevin K. on 11/27/07 at 08:45 AM • Permalink
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I’d put the whole thing in without cracking it open.  One less thing to go wrong.  This would mean that you’d need to leave it in the fridge/freezer for a while, because the case will protect it.  Heat and moisture are not good for electronics, so I can see that getting it cooler (and in a sense drier) may help.  Slower temperature changes are better than rapid ones, so if it’s piping hot now let it get to room temperature before cooling it.

I would be most concerned with moisture.  You know how when you have a cool glass of water beads of sweat form on the outside?  That’s one thing you wouldn’t want.  So make sure that you do it on a dry day, i.e. when there’s a relatively low relative humidity and the dew point is much lower than the ambient temperature.  Today for example.


Will, thanks for the advice. I did crack it open before reading your comment and the innards consist of two side-by-side Western Digital 250gb HDDs. I assume only one of them is failing, but I couldn’t tell from touch or by listening which one it is after briefly powering it up.  I guess I have to send my spider senses into the shop.

I’m going to throw it back together and sit on it until I get another external. Ugh, what’s even more disheartening than losing a lot of music is having to plow through hardware reviews to pick a replacement.

I hate computers.  ;)

About a month ago, my workstation failed on me….and after much diagnosis, it was determined that I not only had a bad muthaboard, but 2 bad drives in my striped array….which meant I lost a shitload of media/workstuff…..when I got home that night I happened to be backing up some stuff when my external drive crapped out.  I had probably written that drive a total of 5 times…..I too had read about the freezing thing, but still haven’t been bothered trying it…..Oh, my point to this useless rant:  Computers suck.

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