Why your Freezer is no Place for a Hard Drive!

It’s one of those urban legends that simply refuses to die: ‘placing a failed hard in your freezer will make the drive functional for a short period of time thus allowing you to recover your data.’ Now, whilst this argument may be based partly on logic, it’s still not something we at Fields Data Recovery would recommend. Why? Because it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to work and is, in all probability, going to result in your drive suffering irreparable damage.

This theory emerged because, should a drive’s spindle (the part that is used to rotate the platters on which data is stored) fail, then freezing the drive can, occasionally, realign the spindle thus allowing you to use the drive for a short period of time. Previously, this may have been a feasible option as the storage space on older drives was significantly smaller meaning that less data needed to be transferred. Today, however, it is extremely unlikely that the drive will function for long enough for you to transfer your data to an alternate device. Furthermore, it was far more likely that the contraction caused by freezing would realign the spindle on older drives. Freezing a newer model is unlikely to resolve this matter.

Oh, and let’s not forget that condensation can gather on the drive’s platter and then freeze. This not only directly damages the platter itself but can also disrupt the movement of the read/write head thus bringing about another physical fault. Equally concerning is that, should the read/write head dislodge this ice, it will be dragged across the platters and damage their top layer, the likelihood being that the data stored within these locations will become irretrievable.

Ultimately, placing a hard drive in the freezer is a very, very bad idea. The arguments behind it can seem logical but the merest degree of analysis will lead you to conclude that the most probable outcome is a hard drive that is damaged beyond repair. This is a myth which – along with placing water-damaged phones in rice, opening up failed hard drives or hitting them in the hope it fixes the problem – is going to do more harm than good.

When a hard drive or any other kind of storage media fails (don’t get us started on the damage you could cause by placing an SSD in your freezer) your best option is always to contact the professionals here at Fields Data Recovery. We’ve offices throughout the UK and provide data recovery services in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Cardiff.  

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