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Monday, January 09, 2006

Recover your data by putting your Hard drive in the freezer: Myth or reality?

A few weeks ago, I had one of my personal Hard Drive fail on me. I was able to recover the data on it by using PC inspector for windows. While doing some research for a solution to my problem, I ended up on a few stories about people who were putting their HD in the freezer to help fix it long enough to be able to get the data off the disk. I guess that by doing this, some metal parts in the HD could contract, putting back in place defective parts, and making everything work again for a few minutes.

What do you guys think? Myth or reality?


  • I used to have someone work for me who swore by this and I did see a couple instances where he was able to recover data from a drive after putting in a freezer when he couldn't before he did so. Seemed to work.

    By Anonymous john, at 5:05 PM  

  • As crazy as it seem, here is a few post I recovered from around the web:

    "my hd failed yesterday, been fighting with utilities and i notice that the more i try to work on it, the worse it gets. got to point that the utils just can't see the data.so i froze it... guess what... got 2 hours out of it. enough to get my data off it!"

    "Like it or not, at the computer repair shop I work at, this is a last ditch effort we use to get data off of failing hard drives. You can call it an urban legend if you like, but it just so happens to work on about half of the drives that come in. They won't stay good for long, but long enough to retrieve data."

    "I've been in IT for years, and yes this is a last ditch effort. This method works for me about 50-60% of the time and has given me enough time to get a ghost image of the hardrive and retrieve users data. No urban legend here, it's crap shoot, but it can work."

    By Blogger Kiltak, at 8:26 PM  

  • "the verdict is...yes it works, the head shrinks, and the "gap" size changes, thus allowing access. Neet trick !"

    By Blogger Kiltak, at 8:27 PM  

  • I've heard a lot of rumors about this as well, but fortunately never been in a situation where it's been the only option left to me...yet.

    However, almost all of these experiences seem to end with the drive being completely hosed. No second attempt at recovering data, not even by a professional data recovery company who owns the proper equipment.

    But hey, if it gets you your data back, kudos.

    By Blogger theMatt, at 10:12 PM  

  • Putting a drive in the freezer does help if the issue is friction-related (the ball-bearings, or the head dragging on the platter, or whatever). A colder drive to start with means you have longer until it heats up too much.

    PS: An article about data recovery that doesn't mention SpinRite is an incomplete article. SpinRite is an incredible piece of software, has been around for decades, and can recover data from drives that all the other software gives up on. It's a huge omission not to mention it at all....


    By Anonymous Jamyn, at 1:39 PM  

  • This is a tried and tested method,
    We do this all the time in our pc workshop, So either it works, or we are all on crack.

    By Anonymous EgoDeath, at 2:17 PM  

  • Its worked a couple of times as a last resort.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:55 PM  

  • never put one in the freezer but we have had DOZENS of toshiba S1s die. If we cant detect the hd booting off a cd we turn the laptop off and wait a few hours 7 times out 10 we can at least boot and get data

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:04 PM  

  • I also work at a local PC repair shop and have seen this done 2 times now. Both times we were unable to even access the HDD prior to freezing, but after leaving it to freeze over night, we were able to recover the data ( with self-imposed haste ). I dont know why it works ( I would LIKE to know ), but it does. Try it as a last resort.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:13 AM  

  • Freezing works pretty well, I've found. You should probably only do it in a low humidity environ (enclose the drive in a sealed bag, evacuated with canned air or something) to decrease the chances of damaging the disk further, but I've had about 1/2 - 2/3 success rate over the years (quite a few dead drives)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:51 PM  

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