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Can sticking a dead hard drive in the freezer help bring it back to life?

May 28th, 2007

Question: I've heard a rumor that sticking a dead hard drive in the freezer for a few hours might bring the drive back to life.  Any truth in this?

It can, temporarily.  It also depends what's wrong with the drive in the first place.  See, it's a bit like saying that you can start a dead car with jump leads - the trick only works if the right thing is wrong (in the case of the jump leads, the battery is flat). 

Also, it's not a cure.  A dead hard drive can be dead for all sorts of reasons, and only a small number of these reasons can be temporarily fixed by extreme cooling (usually these are current leaks in components, here the cooling decreases conductivity and thus reduces such current leaks).  Most hard drive problems will be unaffected by the cooling and the drive will remain dead (in fact, cooling a working drive can kill it by tightening up moving parts and thickening the lubrication used).

If you have a dead drive that has some really important data on it (and you're not willing to spend the money on professional data recovery) then cooling the drive might help.  Stick it in a polythene bag and freeze it for a few hours then remove it from the freezer, wipe off the condensation and try it.  If it works, act quick to get your data off the drive before it packs up again.  If it doesn't work, well, you've lost nothing, you still have a dead drive.

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