The ol' hard drive in the freezer finally worked!

Solution 1.  Diagnose the Hard Drive Health and Repair

Step 1. In Windows 7/10, click “Start > Computer or This PC”.

Step 2. Right-click your external hard drive.

Step 3. Click “Properties” > “Tools” and press “Check Now” (This option will check the drive for physical problems). 

If errors are found, you can attempt to repair them using this utility. Restart your computer once the repair is finished.


Solution 3. Reformat the External Hard Drive for Reuse

Taking your important data into consideration, you should make a full backup before proceeding with the final method. If the process of copying files still causes your external hard drive to become unresponsive, crash and freeze up in the end, download EaseUS hard drive recovery software to access and retrieve inaccessible data.

Key features of EaseUS data recovery software:

 Download for Win Recovery Rate 99.7%

  Download for Mac  Trustpilot Rating 4.4

Step 1. Choose and scan the external hard drive

  • Download and install EaseUS Data Recovery on your PC or laptop. 
  • Connect the external hard drive to your computer.
  • Run EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and choose the external drive from External drives list. Then, click scan for lost data. 
Step 2. Check the scan results

Step 2. Check the scan results

  • EaseUS data recovery software will immediately scan the selected drive for all data, including deleted, corrupted, and existing data.
  • You can use the Filter feature to quickly locate the files of one kind, such as Pictures, Word, Excel, PDF, videos, emails, etc.
Step 3. Preview and recover data

Step 3. Preview and recover data

  • Double-clicking a file from the scanned results to preview.
  • Choose the files you want and click “Recover”.
  • Select a different drive to save the recovered files instead of the original one. 
Next, go to Disk Management to fix the freezing is

Next, go to Disk Management to fix the freezing issue on the external hard drive.

Step 1. Press Windows + R keys and type diskmgmt.msc in the Run box.

Step 2. Disk Management is now open. Right-click the external hard drive in question and click Format.

Step 3. Follow the format wizard and complete the procedure.

Step 4. Restart your computer and check if the issue persists.

Hard Drive Freezer Trick: Gillware’s Conclusion

Freezer trick proponents today usually have the presence of mind to at least warn people that the trick is destructive upfront. They say that the hard drive freezer trick should only be used as a method of last resort for getting your data back.

We, of course, disagree. We don’t think it should be used at all. It’s a bad idea and the consequences range from “nothing actually changes as a result” (thankfully) at best to “your hard drive’s condition is dramatically worsened” at worst. Nobody should be putting their hard drive into Ziploc bags and shoving it into a freezer when it starts to click or beep–especially when it starts to click or beep because at that point, the best and only hope for your data is a professional data recovery company.

If your lost data is important to you, your method of last resort should be a professional data recovery company, not your icebox

We have the tools and skills to solve just about any kind of hard drive failure. Our engineers have seen just about every model of hard drive. We’ve got over a hundred thousand successful data recovery cases and counting under our collective belts from all manner of failed data storage devices. Gillware’s data recovery lab offers secure, professional, and world-class services with free inbound shipping, free in-lab evaluations, and a financially risk-free “No Data, No Charge” guarantee.

If your data isn’t important to you, then by all means, stick your failed hard drive in the freezer (not for data recovery, of course—just for fun). Freeze it in a block of ice if you want. Or you can turn it into a clock, or use it as a doorstop or a paperweight. There are plenty of weird and wonderful things you can do with a broken hard drive.

Step 2: Cover to Protect the Drive Before you put it in the Freezer

We don’t want to make things worse. Put the hard drive in a sealed plastic bag to avoid bulk condensation. I normally put it in a second larger bag.

I suppose you could use silica gel and put it along with the drive in the bag if you have some (for example from a shoe box from a recent shoe purchase). An alternative may be uncooked rice.

What are the symptoms?

A hard drive clicking noise is typical; sometimes the hard drive clicks then stops. It might not boot or only boot occasionally.

Why Is It A Bad Idea?

If you haven’t read it already…check out our brief overview of how a hard drive works. In order to squeeze more and more data onto the platter surface, hard drives have extraordinarily small clearances between the heads and platters. In modern drives this clearance is slightly less than 10 nanometers (nm). To put this in perspective, a single strand of DNA at around 2.5nm would barely fit through the gap between the heads and the platters.

When you freeze a hard drive, it doesn’t matter how much you wrap it, it doesn’t matter how airtight you try to make it, the platter surface can and will accumulate microscopic crystals of ice.  The ice crystals are extremely small, but they are still around 15,000 to 30,000 nanometers in height.  The problem becomes clear…there’s no way the ice crystals are going to be able to avoid hitting the heads when the drive powers up.

Why Does It Work and Is It Safe?

In order to understand why sticking your hard drive in the freezer helps recover data, it is necessary to understand the basic workings of data extraction from a typical hard drive.

Extraction of data from a hard drive is similar to extraction of music from an old record on a gramophone. The gramophone music comes from a constantly rotating disk (platter), from which “data” is obtained by a static needle (head) that rubs against the surface of the disk. Similarly, a computer hard drive consists primarily of the following components:

  • Platters to store the data
  • Reading/Writing head
  • External casing or cabinet

A hard drive has a number of platters that store the required information. These platters constantly rotate at great speeds. While rotating, they rub against the writing/reading head, which helps extract or insert data.

Over time and with usage, the platters and the head may become distorted or rub too hard against each other. This is the primary source of the clicking noises you hear when you connect the hard drive to your computer.

Placing the hard drive in the freezer causes the platter and head to contract or shrink, which reduces the contact between them. This results in less rubbing and increases the chance of extracting your data. However, a few minutes after removal from the freezer, the hard drive components may expand and return to their distorted form.

The freezer is not a completely safe environment for your hard drive because of the high amount of moisture in such temperatures. Therefore, we advise you to double-wrap the hard drive before placing it in the freezer. Also, if the freezer temperature is extremely low, you might end up freezing movable objects to the point of immobility.

Although the above method is not completely foolproof, it has often resulted in successful data retrieval and is definitely worth a try in situations of dire need.

If you are still nervous about the process, call eProvided for professional Data recovery!


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