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Thread: Crashed Drive Won't Mount

  1. #1
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    Confused Crashed Drive Won't Mount

    Hi,

    I have a Western Digital 20GB Ata hard drive that has crashed badly. Despite reading other forum posts here and trying out the useful suggestions, I have been unsuccessful in remounting my hard drive. This has denied me access to a precious archive of work e-mails in my macmail mail-box, and other home office work data including Safari bookmarks tracked via the now non-existent user preferences folder.
    *
    This is all information that I would really like to recover without sending to a data recovery company. The loss of data access has been stressful for me over the last several days.

    Fortunately, I always stored my text edit, word, and other raw documents on a subsidiary drive. However, and this is unfortunate, backups of my "home folder" fell of the radar due to some significant health issues over the past couple of years. Now, I'm paying the price for that loss of focus.

    I'm running a Powermac G4 AGP machine with 1.5ghz fastmac processor, 1.75gb ram, OSX 10.4.11. This has been a good computer for my home office work including e-mails, web browsing etc. The main drive in a two drive setup has been a 20gb Apple branded hard drive Western digital drive that was reported full before the crash. This was after the console log file in the system folder reported large gigabyte file logs.

    No major data has ever been stored on this hard drive, only the OS, yet it would fill up. This has happened in the past and I have been able to delete these files, then restart the computer thus clearing hard drive space. I've done this for the last two years.

    Two weeks ago when the computer reported low hard disk space, I had a several safari windows open. The computer then froze and the entire computer became totally unresponsive. I had to force power off the computer to get it to restart.

    Since then, despite using disk utilities like Techtool, Disk Warrior, Prosoft Drive Genius, Prosoft Data recovery and other* software demos like Remo recover, Total Recall, Stellar Phoenix, and Virtual Lab the drive has never been "seen" by the OS to let the data recovery software access it.

    I've also used techniques like Safe boot, Singe user mode, Target disk mode, plus mounting the drive in a Wiebetech Firewire 400 external enclosure, and still I've never managed to get the drive to be recognized by the system, let alone remount. All I got was the circle with a slash through it or the mac smiley icon that alternates with a question mark.

    The 20Gb WD was the primary ide drive in a two drive setup that also has a Maxtor diamond Max Plus 9 60Gb ATA133 Hard drive which was my subsidiary drive for data storage. I have since mounted this drive when it was made the only drive on the ide cable (the Maxtor has 10.4.6 on it that I can boot from successfully). (If the Western Digital is either the primary or secondary drive on the joint ide cable, the Maxtor then fails to mount).

    The crashed hard drive symptoms are:

    On startup the Western Digital disk makes several whining noises like it wants to startup, and also sounds like it is trying to access the drive data platters, then it goes quiet. After making the drive the only drive on the ide cable, and rejumpering the drive accordingly, it is only making two whining or "coughing noises" like it wants to start, then goes quiet. In neither case, does the OS ever register its presence.

    In the firewire enclosure the drive either starts with the first type of sound and then reverts to periodically making the second type of coughing sound or it just makes the "coughing sound".

    Crashed Drive Description is:

    WESTERN DIGITAL 20GB TRIDE 655T0022 WC93300Y5H7YA EIDE HARD DRIVE. Made August 18, 1999.
    MDL (Model) is WD205BA-40AK.
    Firmware is CRNBLKMO.
    PRIMARY CONTROLLER BOARD (PCB) NUMBER ON WHITE LABEL JUST ABOVE DATA CONNECTOR IS 845000A 30M01G2V2E2 0056, Apple part # 655T0022

    Has Apple logo and came with Sawtooth Machine 450Mhz that was upgraded to 1.5ghz via Fastmac processor and 1.75Gb CL2 Crucial Ram.
    *
    Any ideas or suggestions would be most welcome to get the drive to mount and then copy of my home folder data.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
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    A few thoughts for you...


    A hard drive that is 'full' will basically run out of index and start overwriting itself. This causes data corruption, sometimes to the point you cannot get data off the drive. However this by itself cannot typically cause a drive not to be seen. It is certainly possible, we have seen corrupted drives take down a bus, so your drive may have a fatal corruption - one good way to tell may be to install it in a PC which might, probably will, ignore the corruption, if corruption is the problem. This will at least tell you if the problem is corruption or not.

    A drive that cannot be seen by any utility, but especially by Disk Utility or Drive Setup, sounds like a mechanically failed drive. This can be a component failure on the printed circuit board, a connector failure, solder joint that finally cracked due to heat over the years, all sorts of things. Usually a drive that does not show up is not caused by a failure of the
    actuator that spins the platters. The circuit board will usually answer back even when the platters are not spinning. 'Usually' is the right way to phrase that though, since when something mechanically fails it can take everything else down with it.

    You can try a couple other things - freezing the drive sometimes works. This loosens the fit of components that are shrunk by the cold.

    You can also rap a drive sideways as it powers up to see if you can get one that isn't spinning to start spinning.

    Any intentionally 'rough' repair attempts can cause a true head crash, from which there is no data recovery possible. A crash, more accurately called a head crash, means the heads touch or slammed against the spinning platters which wipes off/out the media. No way to work with a crashed drive at all. It is definitely dead after that happens and even a recovery service, which can pull the platters and build a new drive around them, cannot recover data from a head crash. So recovery attempts using freezing or slapping the drive into spinning have a downside.

    A drive that old is definitely on my list for mechanical failure. I never use a drive older than 3 years for production work, always replacing them and demoting the old drives either to trash heap or to tasks where it doesn't matter when they fail. All drives fail, after a few years the failure rate is too high for me to use them in production. Something to consider when you keep a computer running for so many years. That many years is a commendable use of resources! However, drives are definitely a wear item that need to be replaced on a schedule to keep a low failure rate.


    Rick
    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

  3. #3
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    Tuff one.

    As Rick said, if the drive won't spin up....it is done.

    Sometimes a failing bearing spindle or motor will unstick with the freezer trick. Typically this helps most often if the HD will spin up, but then has issues when up to speed (friction/heat slow the drive below min function speed).

    Some times the wrap can unstick a stuck/parked armature (arm that moves like just like on a record player).

    If it is not either of those two things.....you don't really have any option to revive a HD without sending it in for data recovery. Drive Savers can take the HD apart, and fix/replace the damaged mechanism. .....Unless their was an actual head crash. If so, your data could be a pile of metal dust. Nobody can reassemble that. Like trying to get the music off of a shredded cassette tape. Ain't gonna happen. The only good thing I can report is that they will check it out/estimate odds of recovery and cost for free. Then you say yes or no, with no $ unless you proceed.

    Oh, and in rare instances you can replace circuit board. Easy, if you can find the exact same model and firmware (not easy). No way to know if this will fix the issue, but cheap and low cost to try, compared to data recovery. Obviously this will only fix the issue if it is a circuit board issue!
    "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

  4. #4
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    First part of this is is a nice overview, and lets us see how HDs, work, and visualize what can happen when they don't.
    "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
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    Smile re Crashed Drive Won't Mount

    Hi Ricks and Unclemac,

    Thank you very much for the extremely useful and valuable advice and links you both shared. The theoretical description you both outlined makes a lot of sense now. I am also clearer about my options at this point.

    In addition Ricks thank you for your acknowledgement on keeping an old resources running. I like to maximize my use of resources even when in computer terms they have become paleolithic https://www.macgurus.com/forums/images/icons/icon7.gif. You are right though in pointing out the limits to that philosophy.

    So what I gather from you both is that there some safer/ less harmful things to try vs potentially useful but also data destructive options like freezing or knocking the hard drive.

    The user preferences-home folder data is important enough for me not to risk a potentially non-retrievable data destructive option. At least until I have tried the other choices you both laid out.

    My questions are:

    I don't have immediate access to a PC but do have Virtual PC 6 loaded on the powermac.
    I can also access a modern intel imac and load a newer copy of Virtual Pc or Parallels there.

    Will either method have a chance to work or will the mac under the Virtual Pc not be "fooled" and be unable to ignore the drive data corruption. (Please also advise if you like some other Windows simulator software better for this experiment.)

    Second, regarding a logic board swap, I have located a donor drive. Since the crashed hard drive was an Apple branded WD 20.5 Gb expert drive, the closest I found was a WD 27.3 Gb Apple branded WD expert drive with a variation on the Firmware code. Will this $34 drive possibly work for the logic board swap? (I will purchase if you think this is a step in the right direction though I understand there no guarantees.)

    Here is the comparison:

    CRASHED DRIVE SPECS

    Apple Branded
    Western Digital Expert 205BA
    MDL: WD205BA-40AK
    CCC: A1 18 AUG 99
    DCM: CRNBLKMO

    20GB TRIDE 655T0022 WC93300Y5H7YA

    DONOR DRIVE SPECS

    Apple Branded
    Western Digital Expert 273BA
    MDL: WD273BA-40AK
    CCC: A1 25 AUG 99
    DCM: CSNBLKMO

    27GB TRIDE 655T0023 WM934004MH83A
    Last edited by NEPT34; 02-05-2013 at 10:21 PM. Reason: Formatting is conflated

  6. #6
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    Checking the corruption issue with a PC would mean being booted to Windows, not VMing Windows. BootCamp yes, Parallels no.

    The reason I bring up to not use the risky methods is weighing if you are going to take to a recovery service. If so, I would say think hard before hammering on a drive. I personally have no issue with freezing a drive. I've even done laptop drives that way without removing the drive from the laptop. Drive would only stay up until it got warm, but three trips to the freezer got me all the data from my neighbors MacBook.Rapping a drive to get it to spin has obvious possible downsides. Other physical actions can also risk the platters.

    I have no idea how close to identical a circuit board has to be. I have never done that.

    Rick
    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

  7. #7
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    I too have had some success freezing a drive for about 30 min, and getting it to mount.....and getting data off fast before it gets hot again. Rare, but I have seen it work - like maybe 1 out of every 20 attempts. My successes have been from drive that would mount when cold booted, and the would unmount once heated (perhaps 10 min or so).

    I have never had any success with thumping a drive....maybe I am doing it wrong.

    Seems like it would be easiest to use a Mac, to be sure you can see the data; if I understand correctly, yes, you can use a newer Intel Mac to copy data, but (obviously) not to boot to it. It should mount and behave normally as an external drive on a newer Mac.....setting aside the drive issue itself.

    Are you sure you don't have any backups anywhere?

    I know folks that have had good success with the board swap on older drives. How close does it have to be? I can't say with authority....but I would expect it has to be very close. Voltages, firmware.....could get hairy. No idea how "standardized" boards would be between similar (not identical) models of drives.

    I would think it would be safe to try....cause if the board is not correct, the HD would likely not respond or spin up. OTOH, could you burn out a motor with the wrong board—making data recovery even harder?? I really don't know the risk.

    Wish I could tell you more, but that's the limit of my experience. For the low cost, it might be worth looking to google/ebay to find an exact same model. At least you would remove the variable....if you do the board swap with a non-identical model....and it does not work.....does that mean it is the wrong board, or not a board issue?
    "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

  8. #8
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    The only reason I mention putting the drive on a PC is because when that drive is present on his Mac bus the computer won't boot to any other drive either. The hope is, if the problem is a corruption, then hooking to a Windows machine would maybe at least see the drive. Just a test to see if it is a corruption or a hardware failure. If the PC sees it, then getting the data off becomes the task. If the PC doesn't see it then I would assume the drive to be failed and proceed from there.

    Rick
    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

  9. #9
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    Got it. Makes sense.
    "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

  10. #10
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    Rather than shove it into a PC, get hold of an IDE to USB, plenty on ebay and the like for not a lot - probably $10 or so - plug the drive onto that, booting off something else, of course, and then plug it into the Mac and see what happens.
    If the drive will spin at all then you could use Data Rescue or other recovery tool and get the files that way.
    I've recovered all sorts of drives over the years, even real clanking ones - might take a few days, but if the files are worth the effort...?

  11. #11
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    He already put it into an external Firewire box. No luck.

    Rick
    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

  12. #12
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    Okay, sorry, must have skipped that bit. Sounds to me like it's a scrapper, unfortunately. I've only once managed to get away with swapping PCBs off the back of the drive. That was on a 9gb Seagate SCSI drive about 12 years ago - dead lucky as it was a VERY important drive for a printer with ALL of his current work on it... and no back up of course!

  13. #13
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    Default Following up Crashed Drive won't mount

    Hi again,

    I am deeply appreciative of the continued suggestions and links below. I looked into everything suggested and have gained a deeper layer of understanding. Thank you Ricks and Unclemac for that. Please see my questions below this post.

    I have been continuing to look into my options since my previous post. It is interesting to see how different people respond to the same reality. Personally, I strongly agree with you that if done properly (drive placed anti-static bag in two layers of zip-lock bags for several hours) freezing is a viable method of getting the data back due to access via internal part shrinkage.

    There are far too many success stories, like for example on a website dedicated to crashed hard drives, a number of users reported success like you reported on this board with the freezer method.

    However elsewhere on the web, freezing a hard drive is seen as an old wives tale and the hard and fast advice is "don't do it". I don't agree but at the same time since the data is important to me, I want to pursue the least risk methods (mount in a pc or logic board swap) before I do the freezer method.

    By the way in the description below I haven't posted any links since one of the pieces of information (hard drive failure sounds) is hosted by a commercial data recovery website that I have no affiliation to. If okayed, I would be happy to post the links, since they might be helpful to other users on this board.

    After foraging around on the web I had the thought to find a database of failed or failing hard drive sounds so I could compare it to the sound my Western Digital is making. I also wanted to determine the right solution that matched the problem sound from the hard drive. Meaning "x" sound suggests try freezing, whereas "y" sound suggests try a logic board swap.

    Okay the issue defies such convenient and easy categorization but I am trying to narrow down the many variables to find an effective solution. I eventually found a great place with failed hard drive sounds for all different makes and types (ironically run by a generous Data recovery company who want you to be able to determine whether their services are needed).

    I then compared the sound of my hard drive to several Western Digitals on their website plus the sound of dying hard drive on another site and was relieved to hear that my hard drive doesn't sound like it is dying (I hope I am not wrong about this).

    [Some sorely needed humor for my stressful situation, the second weblink was some guys playing, what sounded to me like, horror movie music in the background while they recored the awful sounds of a dead drive. (O: )O: ]

    What it sounds closest to is the example of a fried logic board. In that instance a logic board swap remounted the drive. Many other people on the web have had success with this method, provided the drive is an exact or close match in manufacturing date, model type and firmware. (Some specialist companies can also burn the exact crashed drive firmware code into the donor drive's logic board.)

    At best, if the firmware doesn't match, the drive simply spins up but doesn't mount. So at the moment I've contacted another seller for a donor drive who has the exact model Power mac I do. I will know more on Monday.

    Okay, my questions:

    1. If the logic board is fried, one symptom is that the drive doesn't spin up at all. I can't be sure that mine is or isn't spinning up. How do I determine whether my drive is spinning up or not? What do I need to do to listen closely to the inside of my drive to know?

    2. I can't access a Pc easily at the moment but I do have access to a Mac Pro 2010 Nehalem. I can run bootcamp there along with Windows Xp on a hard drive partition.

    My question is how do I mount the ide drive since the native connectors in the mac pro are Sata? Can I use the Wiebetech firewire enclosure to try mounting the drive via firewire or is that too 'external"

    I also will have access to a Wiebetech UD4 for bare sata/ ide drive connections. Would that be a better choice? Or do I need to get a Sata to ide connector to mount the drive inside the mac pro drive tray as the most effective option for diagnosing the data corruption factor?

    That's it for now.

  14. #14
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    Here's my take on it, FWIW:
    The freezer method will only work if the issue is heat. By freezing the drive you give the drive more time to heat up, hopefully giving more access time to the data.
    I've done this several times with success, depending on the amount of data to be recovered it could take a couple of hours up to three days as it did for one drive I had. It's not about shrinkage, it's to do with preventing or slowing down expansion. If it really did shrink you'd more than likely just cause more problems.
    You buy yourself time to play, nothing else.
    As for the logic board, it has to be an EXACT match in model and firmware, a close match is an oxymoron - it is a match, or it isn't - and won't improve the situation for you. A spinning drive with no access to data isn't going to be any use, other than maybe to increase your frustration.

    Mounting? Doesn't matter whether it's a 'direct' connection or not. USB or firewire will do the job IF it's going to spin up and make itself available.
    I frequently use a USB to IDE adaptor for mounting IDE drives, whether for recovery or not, and that works perfectly. For 3.5" SATA drives I'll use a SATA docking station, for 2.5" SATA a cheap USB cable adaptor is quick and easy, or I use the docking station. Either of those are ideal simply because you can unmount and take the drive out in a second. If you mount it on the internal bus you'll be spending most of your time shutting down and rebooting.

  15. #15
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    Default Re Drive Freezing

    Those are good suggestions Macloon. My question is do you remember the type of sound your hard drive was making before you used the freezer method? What auditory symptoms from the hard drive guided to say to yourself "I'm going to try the freezer method" rather than a logic board swap?

    In my case from my initial post: " the drive makes several whining noises like it wants to startup, and also sounds like it is trying to access the drive data platters, then it goes quiet. After making the drive the only drive on the ide cable, and rejumpering the drive accordingly, it is only making two whining or "coughing noises" like it wants to start, then goes quiet."

    if I could get some sense that by freezing I'm not making the problem worse I would readily try it. The reason I'm leaning towards the logic board swap is that no one I have yet read, has reported that it made the problem worse. As you point out, if the drive only spins up (as several have reported elsewhere) the damage is frustration which I can handle.

    I'll know on Monday whether I can get an exact logic board swap from an identical powermac.

    Good to know that I can mount via those bare drive converters like those made by Wiebetech and others.

  16. #16
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    It was nothing to do with sound. The decision was made purely on heat and the fact that the drive was seizing up. I think that you are taking the noise a step further than it can reliably be used.
    The most common sound with any failing drive is clicking as the heads are flicking backwards and forwards to the spindle and not engaging. If that's the case they will also be scarring the face of the platters and even if the platters are removed and put into a new box they will most likely be unreadable. No amount of logic board swapping or freezing is going to change that fact.
    I've probably recovered data from more than a hundred drives, only twice has it ever been important enough to go to a specialist recovery firm and only once was it successful.
    I don't want to pour cold water on your efforts, but I do want you to have realistic expectations. If you can get the drive to be seen, not necessarily mounted, then you can normally recover data. The best two tools for that are Data Rescue and File Salvage, in that order. If they can see the drive it doesn't matter if things are corrupted, they can get files from it. If they can't see it, then you are seriously struggling.
    The heat issue is one where the drive will mount but will seize up in use. No point in freezing it if it won't mount.

  17. #17
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    I have never based a freezer choice on noise. Doesn't matter, if I need the data, it is just one thing to try on a fairly short list. Unlike MacLoon, I have seen a drive that wouldn't spin when at room temperature, but would spin and give me some recovery time after being stuck in the freezer. Why - got me, my guess is it shrinks components. Those drives typically showed up but showed no capacity before freezing. Do I recall exactly all the details? No way - too many years of doing this stuff and reading this stuff. It all blends together after a while.

    If the data is important enough that the owner is considering an expensive recovery service, then I am (personally) probably not willing to try any risky experiment to see if I could pull the data off. I have never been paid for a recovery, but would surely be blamed for any problem. This somewhat tempers my decision process. Measurement of riskiness is based on the owners willingness to accept failure.

    Rick
    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

  18. #18
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    Hi Ricks,
    Our experiences are similar, almost enough to call them the same. I guess it depends on your room temperature

    Most recovery attempts do mean the possibility of exacerbating the situation. If it's THAT critical my attempts tend to be, as with the only two I've ever sent away for recovery, very truncated for exactly the same reasons that Ricks expressed. However, the majority of drives that I get in aren't much more critical than family photos. In which case they aren't prepared to pay $500 to get them back, so it's no great risk. It doesn't mean, either, that a data recovery company can get the data back with 100% certainty.
    So when I do manage to recover data, charging nowhere near the amount of time and effort that goes into it, my customers are usually very grateful, but equally very understanding when it's impossible to do... in which case they are charged nothing.

  19. #19
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    Nice discussion.

    My couple successes with freezing were drives, that would spin and mount, though too briefly to get much off of them. After freezing, had more time—still not more than about 10 min or so—to get data, then repeat the process. Oh, and listening carefully to the drive hum, one could detect the frequency lower, and then the drive would unmount. Could "hear" the drive slow down, to what I would assume was below spec to be read correctly. It would un

    Me thinks freezing is simply allowing shrinkage, or perhaps more correctly contraction of close fitting parts. Likely the bearing/spindle/motor has excess drag, and a few thousands of an inch of contraction is enough to allow more time....before parts warm and expand to normal tolerances.

    The normal tolerances in this case are too tight causing drag, because of whatever is wrong with the drive. Back to the sticking shaft/bearing/motor theory.

    Keep in mind this will only have any chance of helping if friction is not allowing the HD to spin up. Anything else causing the failure, and no chance freezing will change a I thing I suspect.
    "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

  20. #20
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    Exactly the same here Unc. The only difference between us is that I don't think that it is as simple as contraction to normal tolerances. The drive has already been damaged by the time quick overheating, under normal circumstances, occurs. You're quite right in that freezing buys a little time to make a hit and run before it heats up again. I have also used wine coolers while trying to extract info, but the worry there is if condensation on the PCB occurs as that can screw the pooch all over again.

    This article gives more info on the mechanics of the problem. Not the best English, but you'll get the gist of it.

    http://comtech-new.blogspot.co.uk/20...ard-drive.html

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