Failing hard drive - put in freezer?

My c: drive has begun to give write errors every few seconds. I read somewhere that you can temporarily improve the functioning of a failing HD (hopefully long enough to copy all the data to a new drive) by putting the drive in the freezer. Anyone else heard of this? How long should it be left in there?

Well I’ve heard of it before, certainly it’s mentioned a lot but I can’t find any definite example of someone saying it works.

The basic idea is put the drive in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer. You don’t want to get it too cold, only enough to make the various parts shrink slightly so that the drive can spin up. So I’d guess you’re not looking to leave it in too long.

Let us know if it works.


I tried it once. I put it into the freezer and waited long enough to put down a case of beer, then re-installed. The downside is that it seemed worse and I had to reformat. The good news is that I found that a frozen ham has a capacity of 250GB.

Oh! A question I have good experience with!

Of late, my company has had a HUGE rash of HD failures, to the point where the PC techs have been trying just about anything to get them to work again. According to my favourite PC tech, who has had to try to recover about 100+ hard drives, the freezer trick does work about 10-25% of the time. That may sound low, but as he put it “Even if it only worked 1% of the time, it’s a no-cost no-effort solution that’s worth trying, given the pain of trying to recover and restore all the data.”

As to why it would work, I have no idea.

I’ve done this a few times, and I’ve been lucky enough to have it work 2 out of 3 times. I’d put it in the freezer for say 5-10 mins, pull it out and start backing up. It would work for maybe 5-10 mins, and then I’d put it in the freezer again and repeat.

To be clear in that last post, I didn’t do it lots and experience a 67% positive result. Rather, I’ve tried 3 times and twice it worked.

Also, now that I think about it, I may have froze it for more like 20 or 30 mins.

Also, in my case I didn’t put it in a bag before freezing as others mentioned, although that sounds like a very good idea.

I’ve repeatedly heard about this on one of those Saturday morning computer talk-shows. They usually indicate that it’s a choice of last resort, but that getting any of your data back is usually worth the risk. Basically (they say), if the head is stopped somewhere on the platter and it’s gotten stuck, going through the freezing/rewarming cycle will cause the armature to flex a little, whereas the platters will not, so the head may move just enough to unstick it. They always say to put it in a Ziploc bag before putting it in the freezer.

(I have no experience testing this, as I am Mr. Backup.)

I did it with a drive the pc was not seeing and it allowed the drive to function enough to boot and copy my data off.

Note: the freezing trick might only help certain types of errors. If you are generally getting data off the HD with occasional errors, it is very unlikely to help.

If they are really just write errors, then don’t write to the disk anymore. Backing it up is reading. Back it up, copy to your new disk that you are buying anyway, throw the old one out.

If there are scattered read errors, one program that works about 30-40% of the time is HDD regenerator. Again, just to get the disk working enough to get your data off it.

It turns out I didn’t need to put it in the freezer - just letting it sit at room temperature overnight seemed to do the trick. I was able to copy almost all the data off it.

Thanks all.