My Hard Drive Crashed, How Can I Get My Data Back?


… Put it in the freezer!

No, seriously… Putting your hard drive into the freezer can resurrect it just long enough to recover irreplaceable data, family photos or coursework.

If the data is really valuable, then we suggest you take it to a data recovery expert, but if you can’t afford to its worth some D-I-Y time.

Note: It will not fix it and you should not continue to use the hard drive for any period of time once it becomes faulty!

Before you rush off to cram your hard drive next to the frozen peas, you should check a couple of things first.

Does your computer turn on?

No – My computer won’t turn on:

If the problem is that your machine won’t turn on it could be just a problem with your physical computers hardware, not your data.

Silly question… Have you checked it’s plugged in and turned on?… Give us a call, and perhaps we can help diagnose your problem.

Yes, but the screen gets stuck at the Windows screen:

If your machine turns on but gets stuck at the windows logo it could just be a software issue and your data could be safe! Buy a hard drive caddy – remove your hard drive and insert it into a working computer via usb. (it’s not as scary as it sounds)

If you are uncomfortable doing this though, give us a call – we’d be happy to help.

Yes, but I can’t see my files?

Follow these steps to display hidden files and folders.

1. Open Folder Options by clicking the Start button, click Control Panel, click Appearance and Personalization, and then click Folder Options.

2. Click the View tab.

3. Under Advanced settings, click Show hidden files and folders, and then click OK.

If you can get into windows but your files have disappeared and they aren’t just hidden its probably a virus that has hidden your files.

Prepare to put your hard drive in the Freezer

If your hard drive is making a clicking sound its normally bad news. It’s FREEZER TIME!

Step 1: Make Sure You Are Prepared to Recover the Data
You need to be ready to immediately copy the data off of the failed hard drive onto a fresh hard drive.

You will need: a new hard drive already installed, or have a different computer set up ready, and a freezer.

Step 2: Freeze the Hard Drive
Put the hard drive into a Ziploc bag and seal it.

To be extra safe put the hard drive in a second ziplock bag. You could also place the drive in an anti-static bag then place it into a Ziploc bag.

Place the failed hard drive into the freezer for around 6 hours (you can try doing it longer if it does not do the trick).

Step 3: Restore the Files
As soon as you remove the hard drive from the freezer install it into the computer right away as the slave drive and boot it up. If this works, copy the most important data first as you likely only have 20-30 minutes max to copy data off of it.

If you are not able to get all of your data recovered before it fails again, you can try freezeing the drive again. If the drive still does not respond you can try freezing it for a longer period of time (24 hours), but you may be out of luck.

Thats great… How on earth does it work?

Inside the hard drive is a bunch of little platters spinning at high speed. When data is accessed or written to the disk, a little head (sort of like on a record player) moves to the right spot and works it’s magic. The space between the head and the platter is very small. Freezing the hard drive will shrink the head and the platter ever so slightly, often allowing you to read data.

Image thanks to pantherproducts

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