Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Community Contributions: Tales from the Fridge
Lenovo Staff

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.    


The agony. The pain. The desolation.



Photo courtesy of


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.


I understand how you feel. The agony. The pain. The desolation. I have been through this before, all of the things are gone. Your blood, your sweat, your tears and every effort stored in the hard drive and you will feel like screaming and shouting to the max.


Data backup strategy? Hmm, for now, you could also backup your data to Lenovo Cloud Storage (LCS), or other cloud storage (Google Drive, etc.) to have additional backup. 


If the file is criticial to me, I would have a copy in my laptop, and duplicate it to thumbdrive, portable hard drive and cloud, or even to other machines. (Multiple redundancy may at least provide 99.9999% file availability, the 0.0001% means you are really unlucky; multiple storage fails at the same time, hardly possible) 





Anyway, things have already happened. What can be done to undo it? It's good to learn from it and move on. But, this is a very good article for those with similar scenario. 


I have tried to revive a laptop (old compaq) battery by wrapping it up with newspapers and put it into the freezer, it does not help much. Before freezing, it last about seconds, after freezing, it could last up to 5 minutes. Perhaps, I could try putting a dead hard drive wrapped with plastic today, to recover back some memoriable photos taken years ago.




Former Administrator



This is an interesting one...   I don't think the cold is going to help in cases where the problem is tied to the physical drive mechanism or the media surface as in the first case Serene shared where her hard disk took up bungie jumping.    Sometimes though, drive electronics will start to go bad and may overheat .  Reducing the starting temp well below ambient might allow enough operating time to get some data recovered.


In the 90's, I was able to recover data from 3.5" desktop ATA drives by swapping the electronic card over from an identical model drive.  This often worked so long as the problems weren't with the mechanism - heads, media, servo, etc.   As small as today's 1.8" and 2.5"  drives are, I'm not sure how possible that would be.


Using the 'fridge to help recover data?  Sounds strange, but then some people have used their ovens to reflow solder on surface mount chips and get their system board working again.  Not recommended, but creative just the same.



Lenovo Staff

@Peter Yeah- but I am still holding out for a miracle - the first damaged drive is still staring forlornly at me on the shelf - who knows? Maybe someone out there can offer some solution to revive itl. 

Keeping fingers crossed!

About the Author