If you’ve dealt with hard drive failure in the past, or are dealing with it now, you may have heard of the method of freezing your hard drive in videos and in forums. While we don’t recommend trying this yourself, we’ll cover why some consider it a method for data recovery, the processes they use, and the reasoning for why we would not recommend doing it in the first place.
Why Freeze a Hard Drive?
Freezing your hard drive quite literally means putting your hard drive in your freezer to chill it. This peculiar method only has a chance to help recover your data if the spindle on the hard drive is the source of the problem. A hard drive contains a spindle that spins the platters of the hard drive, allowing the read/write head to locate the data on the platter that it is looking for. If the spindle stops working, the platters stop spinning, and the read/write head can’t find the data. Lowering the temperature of the hard drive contracts all its components, including the spindle, which in a few circumstances would correctly align the spindle.
Why it’s a Bad Idea
Temperature & Humidity
Because platters on hard drives are super sensitive, changes in humidity and temperature can do irreplaceable damages to the hard drive. Even if you wrap it in a towel or put it in a zip lock bag, like some methods suggest, the humidity in the towel or bag will be impacted, and moisture already in the hard drive will be impacted, which will cause damage to the platters when the read/write head tries to read data from the platters. That’s why data recovery professionals perform their work in Class 100 Cleanrooms, which are temperature and humidity controlled and practically eliminate airborne particles.
With earlier drives, freezing a hard drive would only move parts of the hard drive to a very small degree while with today's hard drives freezing would move parts substantially. Today’s hard drives are built with more specific standards, and freezing can lead to incorrect spacing between the reader head and platter that would leave the hard drive unreadable.
It Doesn’t Last Long
If you are able to get the spindle to start working by freezing, it likely won’t last for long. Freezing is a means to get the hard drive to work long enough to copy the data on it to a new hard drive. Additionally, it’s best to not test and tweak a hard drive when it is making clicking noises. It is best to not try out any DIY software recovery tools or turning the hard drive on as it can lead to permanent data loss.
The Problem May Not Be Physical
In most cases, the cause of hard drive failure is actually a logical issue, and freezing won’t help in any way. To truly diagnose the issue with your hard drive and begin the process to recover your data, you need a data recovery professional to help. Contact us and one of our knowledgeable customer service representatives help you get started.