HarddrivecrashYour hard drive crashes, and you start to panic because you don’t have any backups of your important information! You quickly take it out of your computer, frantically trying to figure out what you should do. Is there a fix? How about putting it in the freezer?

Yes, the freezer. One of Fred Langa’s tips from WindowsSecrets.com for reviving a dead hard drive is to put it in the freezer.  When your hard drive crashes, follow these steps:

  1. Carefully take your hard drive out of your computer.
  2. Put the hard drive in a ziploc bag and seal it up.
  3. Place the bag in the freezer for a few hours.
  4. When you remove the hard drive from the freezer, work quickly to reconnect it.
  5. Once the drive starts spinning and appears to be working, get your data off!

While some of you may have heard this as an old wives’ tale, according to him it’s true.  I really don’t want to try this out first hand because that would mean I’d need a crashed hard drive first, but it would be interesting to test it out. Of course, this is one of those methods you try when all else fails and there is NOTHING you could do.

Your best bet is to always back up your important documents, but we all know that not everybody takes the time to do this.

Another great resource is a document that Tech Republic put together which includes 200 different ways to revive a hard drive (who knew there were so many?). After reading it, you’ll be an expert on putting the life back into your hard drive, although, hopefully you’ll never have to use it.

There Are 14 Comments

  1. Interesting, don’t understand how freezing it going to help.

  2. I would think that this would only help if the crash were related to expansion of the drive due to overheating. The cold (freezer) would cool and contract the drive.

  3. It’s definitely true. We do it all the time for data recovery. It has something to do with the cold compressing everything. (Also helps out an overheating logic board)

  4. It sure did work for me some 6 months ago. HDD was dead. 24h in the deep freeze, after which I had some 30 minutes to remove all of my important data.

  5. Only a fool doesn’t backup ;)

    P.S. I learnt a lot about maths in order to use your spam protection. Now I have to learn words? Oh dear.

  6. OldManDeath wrote:
    I would think that this would only help if the crash were related to expansion of the drive due to overheating. The cold (freezer) would cool and contract the drive.

    Yep, you’re exactly right. This method only works for a short period of time though since the drive will quickly heat back up, but it is often enough time to get your important data off.

    The Slasher wrote:
    P.S. I learnt a lot about maths in order to use your spam protection. Now I have to learn words? Oh dear.

    Yeah, I created a custom spam system for the site since many people were having problems with the math one working. I figured this is also easier for users to do since all they really have to do is copy and paste. Of course, you could get around having to do anything if you register. :)

  7. does that method really work? is there any test that you can show us?

  8. Yes, it does indeed work. I know someone who used this and it worked, but only for a short period of time. Here is another example of someone it worked for:

    For more examples just search Google for [google.com] drive freezer.

  9. I can attest to the validity of this old wives tale. My friends have used it regularly to repair crashed HDDs. Put it in a ziplocked baggy for 2 hours take it out, and it works like new….usually about 99% of all files on the drive are recoverable.

    I’ve never yet had to do this myself, b/c I have been extremely lucky and have never had any form of storage device crash on me (not usb drives, floppies, hdds….heck I somehow still have a 1.15 GB HDD from 1994 that still works).

    I told one of my friends to use this technique to recover a book their parents were working on for several years with no backups, and it worked perfectly. Definitely better than taking to one of those hard drive recovery services that charge you through the roof to recover your data.

  10. I know someone that spent $3000 to have their hard drive recovered after a mechanical failure. It was sent to a lab to have the platters (a.k.a. discs) removed from it and put in a new unit. Fortunately it ended up working because they had a lot of important information for their company on it. I’m sure they are doing plenty of backups now. :)

    I can’t believe you have a 1.15 GB hard drive that still works! Is it actively used?

  11. Your link to Tech Republic’s >200 ways< is a little wrong. The proper link is: [techrepublic.com.com]

  12. The only way I see this working, is on the electronics.
    All electronics are heat sensitive. If the heat stress through the years is too great, the electronics fail, causing a hard drive to not read properly.

    Cooling the electronics BELOW the heat sensitive threshold allows the harddrive to work again. . . Until it heats up and stops working.

    A REAL hard drive crash, it takes real equipment and a sterile environment to recover data. The heads of the drive have ruined the surface of the discs. You can play with the Ice box all you want, and nothing will come from it.

    In electronics, we use cans of air turned upside down to “freeze” or “cool” down chips on the circuit boards we work on. In doing so, the “Bad” chips will suddenly start working again. We now know which chips to replace because of heat destruction and degeneration.

    • The freezer will work, this has to do with the bearings that are worn and will overheat again. When the bearings get hot they stop, the cold will make them contract enough to spin again. Basic heat/cold bearing installations on Jet engines will teach this.

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