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Old October 3, 2011, 06:51 PM
Fiamot Fiamot is offline
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I had an old Dell laptop with a 20gb hard drive that was refusing to boot so I gave the freezer method a shot. It allowed me to boot up for about 30 minutes at a time until it got too hot and the computer would BSOD, but I was able to transfer all of my data off it after freezing it a couple times. So I would say the freezer method should definitely be tried.

In response to the video posted by gillware stating that this can ruin your hard drive I think that their opinion could be biased. They are a data recovery company and if people are able to recover their drives by freezing them then that could potentially mean less business for them.

Moreover, they did not place the hard drive in a zip lock bag while freezing it. This greatly exaggerates the condensation effect that occurs. When my hard drive was removed from the freezer there was absolutely NO visible condensation on the outside (I did not take it apart to check the platters so I can't speak for that). A few people have mentioned using silica gel and that should further help prevent condensation although it may be unnecessary.

The video also shows the platter being "damaged" after being turned on for only a couple seconds. Stating that there are "rings" in the platter itself. These "rings" are really just where the water has been wiped away from the platter, not grooves being formed into the platter. I highly doubt that water would be able to damage the platter even if it is rotating at 7200 rpm. If anything on the hard drive would be damaged by the small amount of water I think it is much more likely that the read/write head would be damaged (and I don't think that's all that likely either).

Overall, I see no reason to not give the freezer method a try if you are not willing to shell out large amounts of money to a professional data recovery service. The fact is that it WILL work in some situations and I see no reason not to recommend it as a last ditch effort.
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