A friend recently came to me with an old IDE hard drive that was determined to be dead by a computer tech. He had held onto the drive, which was several years old, with the hope that someday the data on the drive could possibly be recovered, without costing him an arm and a leg. Typically, professional data recovery can be very expensive and there are no guarantees the data can be fully recovered.
As a challenge, I opted to take a shot at recovering the data on the drive. I placed the drive in an external drive enclosure, powered it up and connected it to my PC. The first bad sign was the clunking noise being generated from the drive and the drive not spinning up properly (which indicated a mechanical problem); AND the second bad sign was that my computer could see the drive but was unable to pull up the file/folder structure (which indicated a potential drive sector or partition issue).
At this point, I had to agree with the original tech’s assessment of the drive; however, it hit me to try a couple of things out of desperation. I put the drive in a ziplock plastic bag and placed it in the freezer for a couple of hours. The theory being that this would cause contraction of the metal parts in the drive. Following the deep freeze, I quickly connected the drive to the PC and I could tell immediately that it was spinning up and the clunking noise had dissipated. My PC could see the drive; however, the sector/partition issue was still looking me in the eye. What I did next was really out of desperation. I started thinking, I can see the drive and if I can see the drive can I format it? My plan was to do a “quick format” then use data recovery software to extract the data on the drive. Guess what? It worked!
Using data recovery software (called Power Data Recovery) I was able to extract every single bit of file data from formatted the drive ( a total of 21 GBs of data). Using the Power Data Recovery software, the data recovery process took over 8 hours to complete.
Several points this article:
- The Hard Drive Freezer Trick – I do think there is something to this!
- Data Recovery – Don’t ever think by formatting your drive you are wiping the data from the drive! It can be recovered…
- Backup Your Files – If you have files on your PC that is close to your heart and soul, make sure you back them up. Hard Drives do and will fail.