My wail of despair probably reached ears as far as the North Pole earlier this year when my external hard disk suddenly and catastrophically failed. For reasons unknown, the drive spontaneously leapt from the edge of my coffee table – plummeting tragically, and landing with an ominous ‘thwack’ . What followed was a loud whirring sound that soon turned scratchy and rather high-pitched. Soon, the realization set in that all my data on the barely three-week-old drive was now gone, all gone.
Months later - déjà vu - a second HDD failed. (this one just died – it wasn’t anything I or anyone did, I swear!) This time, I was desperate enough to call several data recovery services to see if they could breathe life back into the drive and return my precious data and files to me.
They could try – albeit for a price steeper than what I was willing to pay, with no guarantee of success. What else could I have tried?
Last month, our very own zoltanthegypsy shared this odd sounding data recovery tip for drives damaged by heat on his personal blog:
“Sometimes a dead or dying hard drive can be resurrected long enough to rescue important files, or even pull a full clone.
"Drives sometimes fail in a heat-related way. Freezing and then quickly pulling off important data works in a surprisingly high percentage of cases.
"I wrap a drive in plastic to prevent condensation (and anti-stat bag is preferred) and freeze it for 2 or 3 hours. Then pull it out of the freezer and quickly attach to a computer. If necessary, re-install it in the original host machine, but it’s better to connect via an external USB to IDE/SATA adapter so it can be kept cold longer. Another approach is to connect to a desktop machine with the case open so the cables can be brought outside the machine.
"If using an external adapter or cables to the outside, with the drive still wrapped in plastic, sandwich it between two freezer gel-packs (or bags of frozen peas) and wrap the whole mess in a towel.
"If you are lucky, the drive will return to life long enough to copy the important stuff. In the best case, you may be able to clone the drive and avoid a long re-install process.”
Would this have worked to solve my most recent trouble? Maybe, maybe not. But I sure wish I knew about this earlier so I could have tried to save my files.
This reminds me, I need a better data backup strategy… but more on that later.
Do you have a unique tip to share? Send me a PM with your ideas!
Who knows, you just might save someone out there time, money and perhaps even a few tears.