Hard Drive Dead? Stick it in the Freezer!
Okay, so I’ve known about this idea for a while but never had a chance to try it out until now. The basic idea is if your hard drive suddenly fails and your computer can no longer read it, putting it in a freezer for a few hours might fix it so that you can use it long enough to copy your data over to a backup drive before it fails again.
Sound crazy? I thought so too. But consider how the main cause of hard drive failure is usually overheating. This could damage the hard drive in a number of ways, one of which is thermal expansion of small, thin metal parts. Putting the hard drive in a freezer would cause thermal contraction, which might be just enough to counteract the damage caused by the overheating. Another explanation (and I think this is more probable) is that freezing the hard drive lowers the resistance of the substrates used to store and transmit data. This in turn allows the hard drive to access sectors that previously appeared to be dead.
The most important thing, though, is that I can tell you it actually worked for me. The 40 GB 2.5″ hard drive on one of my old laptops died earlier. I got a blue screen, and after restarting, the system said it couldn’t find the operating system. I then rebooted to a Windows CD, and the installation program couldn’t find any hard drive to install on. That convinced me my hard drive was in fact dead. So, I put it in the freezer (use a zip lock bag to prevent condensation) for a few hours, put it back in my laptop, turned it on, and windows booted up again like nothing had happened. Now, at this point I expected to only get a few minutes of use out of it. But so far, I’ve spend the last 3 hours copying files onto various locations on my network, and the hard drive is still spinning away happily.
So yes, it’s true! Putting dead hard drives in the freezer can indeed bring them back to life! After my files are done copying I’ll put the laptop enclosure back together and see how long this baby can run before it goes out again. (Of course, I won’t be saving any data to this laptop. I’ll just be using it to play movies and anime while I work on my other computers.)