Hard drive blues.
Gosh. The past week had been gruelling, strenuous, laborious, painstaking, plus all those adjectives you can think of that belong in that same page.
Why? Cos last week, my 2-year-old 160GB external hard disk drive decided to freaking die. Dragging along with it 6 years worth of about 15,000 family photos and my freaking 50GB mp3 collection I had since 2002.
Now who wouldn’t freak out?
Nothing worked. I tried everything a human could think of to revive the ticking hard drive, sending it for professional data recovery was obviously ruled out due to high-cost, I scoured online forums for solutions but nothing worked. Until I remembered awhile back reading of a proposed method to revive a dead HDD by, drumroll please… FREEZING IT.
Finished laughing? C’mon. I was desperate, okay? And yeah, it was proposed that by literally freezing your dead HDD in a freaking real household freezer, a dead drive would come back to life. Now how cool (pun not intended. XD) is that?
So I decided in desperation to try out that wacky idea, but first, on our late Sony Vaio’s dead HDD (well it died awhile after I rescued all data off it in that post). Since its dead and worthless, might as well be my lab rat. =D
It was pointed out in the drive-freezing discussions that they have to be secured in a ziplock bag before condemning them into the icy-cold hell our daily seafood and meatstuff experience each day.
So I dug around and found these Tesco resealable food bags my dad got in KL awhile ago.
Perfect. Just what I wanted. So I stuff the old drive into it, zipped it up airtight and secure to prevent condensation, and dump it into the freezer.
After waiting impatiently for 2 hours, I took it out. In the discussions, suggestions for the freezing duration varied from an hour to a whole week. I thought an hour might be too short, so maybe two will do.
I took the drive out from the ziplock bag, wrap rolls of tissue around it, plugged it into my laptop, lo and behold.. nothing happened. It was still an icy-cold dead drive.
So much for that urban myth eh. I ended up getting more desperate and decided in a rash to proceed with another freezing attempt, this time — on the real thing.
This is it. 6 years worth of priceless memories caught on camera in that metal case. This either works, or risk the drive getting wet out of condensation and causing fatal short circuits, condemning the drive and everything in it forever.
I had no choice.
Try it, or its just a dead drive with nothing you can do.
This time, I took no chances, I left the drive in the freezer overnight and into the morning for a whole 15 hours.
Next morning, I repeat everything I did with the old drive only this time I was extra cautious, and used a kitchen towel to get rid of all that nasty condensation.
I powered up everything, sat there and prayed.
For what felt like forever, it began clickety clicking. Then after about 5 minutes, it miraculously hummed to life. OMG.
Vista detected it immediately. But unfortunately none of the recovery software I had worked, PC Inspector etc. refused to load at all, even Explorer itself crashes. I had to resort to using the old and faithful command prompt to do all the copying.
With that, I repeated the freeze and rescue cycle for everyday in the past week. Each time, the icy cold drive gave me about 3–4 hours of copying before it warms up and start its clickety clicking again.
To date, I had recovered some 11GB of photos and 21GB of mp3s and counting. The mp3s were OK, but a minority of the photos were corrupted. I would put the figure at about 95% on recovery rates.
Still laughing? =P
Next time you have a dead drive, you know what to do. =D But of course, you need not be like me and go through all that trouble, for a better advice from me would be to BACKUP YOUR IMPORTANT DATA WEEKLY. No wait, I should grab a mirror and shout that at myself. =\
Edit: I realised that in a hurry to finish the post I kinda forgot to cover two things. First was how the first freezing attempt didn’t work. My deductions would be that that old drive was screwed up beyond repair (psst, I found it among a stack of stationery) but if the mechanics inside were still intact with all that knocking, then the short duration of freezing could be blamed. Maybe a mere 2 hours isn’t enough to do the magic. =P
Second is how the whole freezing thing works. It definitely sounds far-fetched as a fix for dead hard drives. I’m no hard disk dude and have no idea of the physics behind this trick but I’ve read a detailed explanation by an engineer about the freezing trick somewhere. Can’t seem to find it anymore though. =\