Freeze (Cold) Your Drive To Extract Data

I thought I would post this given the amount of pissed off customers. Sometimes if a drive has a mechanical failure the data can be recovered by freezing the drive. I know what you’re thinking, I called BS on this too. But I tried it and it worked pretty well. I was able to get about 7GB of critical data.

I had a drive that was clicking and clacking, and a little grinding. I put the drive in a freezer bag and in the deep freezer, covered it with a small towel to keep the moisture off. I dropped the temp to -30. I bought a Sabrant USB Sata adpater for $24.99 and ran the cables through the door seal. This way I didn’t have to worry about taking it out of the freezer. Most who write on this subject have you take it out and try it. That method will warm up and eventually stop working again.

Problems to avoid:
Connecting the USB cable to the PC for the first time with the drive connected to the adapter might no let the drivers install. Here were my steps:

Adapter Install Steps:

  1. Do no connect the failed drive to adpater.
  2. Power up the adpater (plug in the power cord - do not trust the power button if it has one)
  3. Plug adapter USB cable into PC. Make sure to notice the drivers install OK. If not, do it over.
  4. Disconnect the USB cable from the PC and power down the adapter
  5. Connected the drive to the adapter
  6. Power up the adapter (plug in the power cord)
  7. Plug in the USB cable to the PC
  8. You should see new drivers install - drivers specific to the hard drive manufacturer.
  9. Wait a few minutes for the drive to recognize. Be patient, mine took about 3 minutes.

Accessing the Data:

The failed drive is still under an ownership (User Profile) and password access. There will be no prompts for passwords. If you can’t access the folders and get an error for permissions - you will need to change the ownership of the folders so you can copy them from the failed drive. If you can’t get access the folder levels to right click and change ownership, you can use command prompts. Google all this for detailed instructions and steps. It was pretty easy.  I used command prompts to change the ownership of just my User Profile folder (included subfolders). I was also able to then access all folders on the entire drive. Nor sure why.

Other Tips:

  1. In my case very large files like movies would not transfer. There must have been some damaged areas on the disk, when ever it would hit these areas the large files would fail. So make sure to try your smaller files first.
  2. Transfer speeds varied but were always really slow. In most cases it was around 3-400Kb/sec. Only a few times did i get transfer rates over 1MB/sec. I have no idea if this slow speed is because of the cold.
  3. If you copy a folder with many files sometimes certain files will not make move. It will prompt you for action. I suggest taking a screen grab of these error messages as it will list the file name and other usefule. Store these screen grabs of errors in a Word doc so you have a reference of what was messed up. 

I heard about this before, but it was for old drives with bearings and all the stuff. However, if this is working for you that’s really cool…