The freezer hack to recover data from a dead hard drive

** Please note this should only be done if you have no alternative options and are unable to take your hard drive to a data recovery lab **
Grinding and clicking are usually the common noises for a failing hard drive however sometimes they can just go unexpectedly, without any warning signs! When you find yourself in this situation it can put you in a state of panic, especially if you realise that you haven’t got a backup of your data.

Hard drives work similarly to old records, except rather than one record and needle hard drives contain several small platters spinning very fast that are accessed by a read/write head. By freezing the hard drive you’re hopefully shrinking the platters enough so that they’re no longer rubbing up against the head—temporarily.

If the data on your drive is extremely precious, and you’re not willing to take a risk then it’s advised not to attempt the freezer trick as you could make the situation worse.

Although freezing the drive may seem like an odd thing to do this has proven successful and may just work for you. Freezing the drive can extend its life momentarily.

What you will need:

– Freezer
– 2 x Zip lock freezer bags
– Hard drive dock
– Screw driver

Here’s the step-by-step guide below:

1. Safety first! Ensure your computer is completely powered off and un-plugged from the mains
2. Using a screw driver remove the hard drive from your computer (if you have a laptop usually the hard drive is located underneath/on the base, so you’ll need to flip the laptop over so that it’s upside down, then unscrew the back to get to the drive)
3. Once you’ve removed the hard drive place it inside a zip lock freezer bag and zip it up securely so that it’s completely sealed
4. Now that it’s inside the freezer bag place the wrapped hard drive inside another zip up freezer bag
5. Put the double-wrapped hard drive in the coldest part of your freezer for a minimum of 12 hours
6. Remove it from the freezer and the bags and plug your hard drive into a hard drive dock
7. Start extracting the data (begin with the most important data first as the hard drive will fail again at some point) hopefully it will run long enough to recover the data you need
8. If the drive fails whilst you’re doing this you can try repeating the above steps, and place the drive back into the freezer for a further 12 hours (however there’s no guarantee)

Just to clarify this doesn’t make the hard drive work again, it’s simply just to try and get it going long enough to copy the files you need. So do make sure you get your hard drive replaced with a new one if you’re intending to still use your computer. Also it’s definitely worth putting a backup system in place so that you can rest assured your data is all backed up and safe, meaning should such circumstances happen again at some point in the future you can have complete peace of mind. Here at Nexus we offer cloud backup solutions so you don’t have to remember to take regular backups.

Although the freezer trick may not work in every instance you may be fortunate enough for it to work for you. So if you have a hard drive which has failed and you’re feeling confident then you can give this a go, otherwise we would recommend taking your drive to a specialist data recovery centre. Nexus offers data recovery services for damaged hard drives where we run specialist recovery scans on your drive, however in instances where a drive is completely dead we would advise that you contact a data recovery lab.

Contact us today if you would like us to look at your damaged hard drive. Or to find out more about our Cloud Backup service do not hesitate to get in touch on 01753 884700.

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