Hard Disk Won't Boot? Try Putting It In The Freezer!

I was just reading a post this evening over in the lockergnome.com forum (see post here), which reminded me about an old tech trick that may help someone who has a hard drive that will not boot. Over the years I have had some success in getting a hard drive to boot just long enough to retrieve valuable information that might otherwise be lost.

And this also jogged my memory to an incident that happened to me about six years ago. I got up one Sunday morning and was going to fire up my PC to check my email. I was greeted with a constant knocking noise coming from the inside of my computer case. Pulling off the side panel on the case, I could hear the noise was coming from the hard disk and I could also feel the knocking through my fingertips.

Though I was fairly faithful in making backups, I hadn’t made a backup of a course outline I had just completed on Saturday and which I had spent considerable time preparing. I tried the freezer trick and was able to get the hard disk to boot long enough to back up the file to a zip disk.

The procedure is as follows:

  • Remove the hard disk from the case.
  • Place the hard disk in a plastic Ziploc freezer bag.
  • Stick the hard disk in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
  • Remove from freezer, take the hard disk out of the freezer bag, and immediately place it back inside the computer.
  • Try to boot and keep your fingers crossed.
  • Have some type of media available: floppy, zip, CD, DVD to create a backup with.
  • Try to complete the backup as quickly as possible.

Some say this is an urban legend, but legend or not, I have personally had some success with this procedure and I know some other techs who have also been successful in retrieving data from failed drives. Your mileage may vary.

[tags]hard disk, freezer, data, recover, backup, media[/tags]