So, your hard drive died….should you put it on ice?

When your hard drive dies, it induces panic. All the photos, emails, important paperwork, music, potentially lost. Most times, forever.

Try Googling a solution to a dead HDD. It is a real hot-button for computer users and most times people want answers fast!

There is a real ocean of information on the topic of how to resurrect a HDD that has passed on, so I will stick to the two last-ditch efforts I used for one of my recent customers – the external adapter, and the ‘deep-freeze’.

I stuck a hard drive in the freezer to try to chill it back to life. Inside a Ziploc freezer bag. The underlying logic is that the cold will condense the contact points closer together and for a brief time, with current running to the drive, you can go like hell to remove all the data you can.

Long story short? It didn’t reanimate like I expected it to.

I wasn’t getting any readings off the drive with the external adapter in two different environments, first I used the external powered device, which has saved my own skin (and data) on more than one occasion. No luck.

The drive was spinning but no table of contents or data seemed to be coming up.

Then I removed the HDD from my external drive and put the dead one in its place. Still nothing.

So, after all the info I found online by googling it, I decided to try the freezing technique. So many different opinions – put it in a Ziploc bag, don’t put it in a bag, leave it in for ‘x’ number of minutes, do this do that. I went with what looked like a logical solution; a sealed Ziploc will help deal with condensation (ask a photographer how to climatize a lens or camera body for cold or moisture) , a decent freeze time of 20 mins seemed good, and I had all the equipment ready to plug in right while it was just out of the freezer.


After 20 minutes, I rushed the drive from the freezer to my pc with surgical precision, plugged it in and…same result. All sizzle, no steak.

Was the drive truly dead before I went through the motions? Probably.

But the data was important enough that I tried.

Next time, I will take you through some of the cloud-based storage options and see what is the easiest and fastest way to backup your important data.

And please, update your passwords. Linkedin was hacked June 6, and it could be massive.

Leave a comment