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Freezing a dead hard drive experiment

post #1 of 25
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I've used this technique with some success in the past, but this will just be my official thread on whether this does or does not work.

Drive in question, a Seagate 250GB SATA drive that shipped with my workplace's HP DC7800s. Failed DPS self test and would take forever to POST and then become unresponsive. I came down to the user's office to find the computer completely frozen, and needed to be shut down manually.

Needless to say I've already got the replacement in and the user is online and working.

Threw it into an anti static bag with a tiny desiccant bag to absorb any moisture inside and sealed it with packing tape.

This is Day 1:


I'll update tomorrow to see if I can pull any data off. It took a few minutes for POST to complete, as the computer had difficulty detecting the drive.

video part 1:
Edited by ez12a - 12/13/12 at 4:50pm
 
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post #2 of 25
So, what is the science behind this?

Why would it come back to life or work again after freezing it?
post #3 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by EduFurtado View Post

So, what is the science behind this?
Why would it come back to life or work again after freezing it?

There might be a slight misalignment or something, and expanding and contracting the metal may help to reset it... just a guess though
post #4 of 25
removed video?
post #5 of 25
I have always heard that freezing the drives work well for help getting data off broken hard drives. Never known why but maybe something to do with heat, the last couple of hard drives that died on me would get super hot after they died.
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post #6 of 25
So, am I supposed to try to turn it on to recover the data right after I take it off the freezer or should I wait till it's back at room temperature?
post #7 of 25
Tried two and no success at frozen or room temperature.

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post #8 of 25
The science behind the freezing is two guesses:

1) Controller chips acting out because of heat causing them to no longer function properly, the cold temperature keeps this in check for a small duration allowing recovery.

2) Physical contraction allows for more accurate control of the arm and spinning, sensors act up less and do not misalign

Freezing does not always work. However, I have personally had many HDD's recovered from this technique. I usually start with locking the HDD in a bag and remove the air. I freeze it for 8hrs+ so that it gets as cold as possible. When I take it out I hook a cable to the inside of the bag but otherwise I try to minimize the exposure to outside air. I run the HDD and attempt data recovery. If the drive reads I generally do not waste any time and just Ghost image it or something similar. Or if I know the specific file I am looking for I just grab that.

Many people try to debunk freezing of HDD's and yet there are so many cases of it working where other techniques failed. Is it the proper way to do recovery when the chips are down? Probably not but then who can afford to spend the $5,000 it takes to do a disc replacement into a new controller in clean rooms?

Freezing is always a last resort followed ONLY by the 1 inch drop method.
Edited by Sarec - 12/12/12 at 12:06pm
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post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarec View Post

The science behind the freezing is two guesses:
1) Controller chips acting out because of heat causing them to no longer function properly, the cold temperature keeps this in check for a small duration allowing recovery.
2) Physical contraction allows for more accurate control of the arm and spinning, sensors act up less and do not misalign
Freezing does not always work. However, I have personally had many HDD's recovered from this technique. I usually start with locking the HDD in a bag and remove the air. I freeze it for 8hrs+ so that it gets as cold as possible. When I take it out I hook a cable to the inside of the bag but otherwise I try to minimize the exposure to outside air. I run the HDD and attempt data recovery. If the drive reads I generally do not waste any time and just Ghost image it or something similar. Or if I know the specific file I am looking for I just grab that.
Many people try to debunk freezing of HDD's and yet there are so many cases of it working where other techniques failed. Is it the proper way to do recovery when the chips are down? Probably not but then who can afford to spend the $5,000 it takes to do a disc replacement into a new controller in clean rooms?
Freezing is always a last resort followed ONLY by the 1 inch drop method.

I hate RMAs. I have a bad drive here that I was about to RMA but I always prefer to fix it myself.

Thanks for your input on this thread. Do you have any GREAT links with information/ tutorials/ methods I could follow to try the get mine back to life?
As of now mine is on the freezer. Been there for 3 hours now thumb.gif
post #10 of 25
I would be careful of condensation BTW.
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