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Thread: Froze HD in the freezer! Now what??

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    2

    Default Froze HD in the freezer! Now what??

    A drive in my G5 stopped working, inaccessible to Disk Warrior or Disk Utility,
    so in a last ditch attempt to get it spinning one more time and salvage
    a few gigs of photos I froze it....in the freezer.
    MacGurus suggested it may increase the internal tolerances so it's worth a try.
    But now what?
    How long to thaw, and avoid condensation?
    If it does get working again should I use CarbonCopyCloner, SyncProX, or
    drag and drop to copy over the list of photos I'm looking for? Or.....?
    Thanks,
    MD

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    on the landline, Mr. Smith
    Posts
    7,787

    Default

    I've tried it, and once in while it can work.

    Here's what I did. In the freezer for 15-30 minutes to cool the drive, not actually freeze it. The plug it in, and if it mounts, get your data quick. Finder copy of most important items quick, perhaps single folders full at a time, to minimize the chance of hitting a bad sector, which usually will hang the Finder, and likely the drive.

    Will only help with a mechanism that is sticky..............probably a failing bearing. If there is any other mechanical problem, freezing will do zilch. If DW and DU never see it.......likely out of luck. Any bad noises, or no noises at all, likely out of luck.

    If your drive is actually frozen, I would take it out and thaw it. wait til the case is close to room temp, and give it a whirl (bad pun).
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Grangeville, ID USA
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    9,142

    Default

    I'll usually take a drive to near zero, pull it out of the freezer and hook it up. Right then, right there. Last ditch.

    Last one I successfully did was a powerbook drive. Froze the whole dang powerbook. Had to do it three times cause it would stall out partway through. Nice thing with using a copy applications is it does a comparison and then start off right where it left off the last time.

    I did put the POwerbook in a big sealable antistatic bag with some silicate bags. That powerbook is still happily chugging along a couple years later.

    R
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
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    on the landline, Mr. Smith
    Posts
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    There you go. I like the silica trick.

    The hard part is deciding how to pick to move files. Rick's tip makes sense, picking up where you left off, assuming you get multiple attempts. If heat is the enemy, this may be the best approach. If on the other hand, you have limited shots at freezing before the patient is declared legally dead, you might want to go to most important stuff first.

    A game of Russian roulette. No way to know.

    One other thing that can be a clue.....sometimes you can tell by the sound that a drive is having a hard time spinning up. It will only read within a specific RPM range, so it won't even be presented to the OS as a mount until it spins up to the minimum RPM. The clue is that usually a dragging bearing will sometimes result in a lower pitch hum, because the motor cannot over come the fritction of the failing bearing to get to full speed. As RPMs climb, the frequency of the hum does too. So a lower (than normal) frequency hum, or a fluctuating hum is a candidate for freezing.

    Don't want to get your hopes up too much though. Lots of other things go wrong with HDs that are not temp related.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    1hr N/W of LA LA Land
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    3,321

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    Another trick you can use is go the opposite route: heat the drive up with a heat gun/ hair dryer. Not hot just warm the case up, then plug it in, and go. You have to work quickly since the temperature difference between the components is what enables it to spin a few more times, and as soon as they equalize you'll be back to a non-functioning drive.

    This is all last resort stuff though, and there's no guarantee it will work. The fun is in the challenge.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    2

    Default

    Thanks for the tips and suggestions!
    By the time I was ready to reinstall the drive it had been in the freezer
    at least 24 hrs and since everything critical was already backed up I just
    mounted it in an spare Burly tray and fired it up, condensation be damned.
    Without any unusual sounds the drive mounted and was functional to the
    same degree as when it became unrecognizable.

    Everything seemed fine so I took my sweet time looking through and
    copying what I wanted, then ran another DiskWarrior checkup. Same report
    as before:

    The new directory cannot replace the original directory because of a disk malfunction.
    A disk malfunction is a failure of or damage to any mechanical component of the disk device, or any component
    connected to it. The malfunction will likely worsen. Therefore, recovering your files from the DiskWarrior Preview as
    quickly as possible is essential.

    With that I ordered a couple new replacement drives and let the old one rest in peace.

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