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Old September 28, 2011, 11:32 AM
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Default Linus, the freezer method does not work to recover hard drives - remove your video!

This is a question from BenYourBritishFriend:

Quote:
I just watched your video suggesting that people can recover data from a Hard Drive by putting it in a freezer for several hours. Unbelievable !

Firstly, you had very little chance of this working, as a lot of the Seagate 1TB Drives are known to be unreliable, and Secondly, you're forgetting one very important fact that will ALWAYS DESTROY your data rather than recover it, and that is CONDENSATION. By removing any Hard Drive from a freezer, you unavoidably quickly increase the temperature of the Hard Drive, as it warms up to room temperature.

This will ALWAYS cause the drive heads to GOUGE their way through the condensed water on the surface of the platter of the Hard Drive, causing irreparable damage to the drive, and also rendering any other recovery options un-usable. The ONLY WAY your solution could work, is if you put your Hard Drive inside a large freezer store room, such as the ones that hold pig or sheep carcasses, so you could have your Laptop plugged in the freezer room to test it.

Please REMOVE your video and RESEARCH why this will actually cause more HARM than good, or at least upload a new video WARNING people of the RISKS involved, before you get SUED. People may depend on your advice for their data retrieval, but they will PERMANENTLY DESTROY their data if they copy your video. You have a responsibility to all the potential YouTubers who may see your video, to give them accurate and reliable information.

I'm a Microsoft Certified PC Technician with more than 12 years experience in Computer repairs, so I know what I'm talking about.
Here's the video he's referring to:

Dead Hard Drive? Lost Data? Try the Freezer Method! Linus Tech Tips - YouTube

So I'd like to get the community in on the debate. I've personally recovered data from hard drives using this method twice. That puts my success rate at about 40% for the drives that I've tried this on. Personally I do not believe that there is much inherent risk involved in trying things on hardware that is (presumably) already dead, but maybe the viewer is right.

Why don't you guys let me know if it's ever worked for you? Maybe the OP can also weigh in here.
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Old September 28, 2011, 12:08 PM
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Funny enough, Ben's solution to run it in a freezer by his logic shouldn't work either by his logic. Hard drives generate enough heat through their spinning platters to cause condensation themselves.

The whole point of this potential recovery solution is for people who want to get back non critical data. If the data is important enough that it can justify thousands for an actual forensic recovery which is the only proper way of getting back data, then by all means but for the normal consumer who won't can't justify that much, it's the best option out there.

I've used the freezer trick twice so far and it's been 50/50, one drive took a few freeze cycles for me to get back all my data, the second one was completely toast.
YMMV but when all is lost, and your wallet is empty, I see no reason not to try it

I'm a self certified whizbang repair technician with 20 years of professional bullshit so I don't know what I'm talking about
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Old September 28, 2011, 12:15 PM
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It all depends on what kind of "dead" the HDD is. It wont work if the r/w heads slammed into the platters (aka "cow belling") it wont work if the PCB or part on the PCB are fried (esd, power surge...just crappy part dieing etc). It basically only works on drives that have had their arms stick or other similar issues where the sudden drop in temp and then shot of power as it is powered up "unsticks" it. Even then its damaged goods and cant be trusted to work very long...as they usually REstick or die from temp shock related probs.

TL;DR....Nothing is guaranteed. Its a dead drive. IF you know it didnt cow bell and the pcb has been swapped out with the exact same part and it still doesnt work....whats the harm? Cant make a dead drive "more dead". YMMV.
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Last edited by AkG; September 28, 2011 at 03:27 PM. Reason: good point linus
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Old September 28, 2011, 01:30 PM
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This is a comment (sorry Ben, the word "question" is part of my template for these posts. I didn't mean anything by it) from BenYourBritishFriend. I have removed some sections of it that are more personal and less related to the topic at hand. He of course has the option of registering here to submit his post in its entirety:

Quote:
Hmmm ... your response is both polite and curious at the same time. Unfortunately, it's also biased in your favour, as you chose to leave out the video that I attached at the bottom of my message to you, which clearly showed details of why your method is a bad and unreliable idea, by a Computer Specialist at a Computer repair centre in the US. By doing so, you inferred that my information was solely from my own experience, which suited yourself well.

You only gave the information that you wanted them to have, leaving out anything that didn't work in your favour.

In the interests of fairness and un-biased information, will you now show the video that I attached in my first message to you?

Just in case you've forgotten which video it was, here it is again, attached below. Perhaps you could actually WATCH that video this time, as well ? ... Oh, and to correct you on your initial statement, my message to you was AT NO TIME ever a question. In fact, there aren't even any qestion marks in my first message to you. You should read it again.
Dispelling the myth of Freezer Based Hard Drive Data Recovery - YouTube

Thanks for re-sending the video link. I forgot to post it in the first one. It would have been better for you to reply to the thread with the link to the video.

As for your insinuation that I'm hanging you out to dry with my internet buddies, let me assure you that out of the two people who have replied to this thread, at least one of them is NOT inherently on my side. He would have no problem telling me I'm wrong, and it goes both ways :p

Please do not submit any further replies on this topic to me via YouTube as I am transitioning away from using that at all, and I will only be monitoring HWC private messages and this sub-section of the forum for questions/comments that pertain to me or my YouTube show.
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Old September 28, 2011, 03:02 PM
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Not many people have a thousand or two to pay for professional recovery, or has access to a freezer room? Like some of you have already mentioned, if the data doesn't happen to be the only copy of your wedding pictures or some top secret CIA documents, and drive is already pooched then there's absolutely nothing to loose IMO.

BTW - Wouldn't using the "meat locker" method create condensation within your laptop which also generates heat, therefore possibly causing damaging to it also??

Last edited by Killswitch; September 28, 2011 at 03:41 PM. Reason: Removed potentially offending remarks.
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Old September 28, 2011, 03:12 PM
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We've gotta make sure that any debate stays non-personal since this section of the forum is designed to be friendly to newcomers.

As for the condensation issue, in my video I kept the drive wrapped in plastic while I was using it to at least reduce the risk of water vapour condensing on the inside of the drive. This is not 100%, but it's still my belief that when hardware is dead, you cannot make it more dead by trying things.

Anyone else have personal experience with this method? Has it worked? Not worked?
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Old September 28, 2011, 03:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linus View Post
We've gotta make sure that any debate stays non-personal since this section of the forum is designed to be friendly to newcomers.
I agree. But take it as you may, I get the impression that he's trying to cut your abilities as a technician. In this situation, other then changing the PCB (which I have done successfully before), there really isn't much else you can do/try.

I'm definitely gonna give this freezer trick a go the next time I come across a dead drive.
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Old September 28, 2011, 03:30 PM
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Good point Linus, I apologize if I thread crapped on you or this Ben fellow and have edited my initial response.
That being said, I hope Ben DOES come here, explain his side and see if / where the miscommunication is happening...and if he makes sense...yeah I will help lampoon you. :P
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Old September 28, 2011, 03:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AkG View Post
...yeah I will help lampoon you. :P
I know you will, man :P

I should clarify... We gotta keep things friendly for the new members. You guys are welcome to take shots at me as deemed necessary.... For the greater good :p

That's (in my mind) the biggest benefit to answering my viewer mail as a community rather than just relying on me. If my answer is wrong, then we can fix it :)
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Old September 28, 2011, 03:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linus View Post
As for the condensation issue, in my video I kept the drive wrapped in plastic while I was using it to at least reduce the risk of water vapour condensing on the inside of the drive. This is not 100%, but it's still my belief that when hardware is dead, you cannot make it more dead by trying things.
You could take this one step further and create a vaccuum in the bag, this will also help to reduce condensation and potential issues.

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