Is It Beneficial to Put a Hard Drive in the Freezer?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2019
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It can be beneficial to put a hard drive in the freezer. Doing so may provide a brief fix in the event that a hard drive fails and a computer user needs to recover data. Placing a hard drive in the freezer is said to cause its parts to contract and return to their proper places for a short time. When this works, it may allow the computer user to get up to 20 additional minutes of life out of it. In most cases, this fix is only used to recover data from a hard drive that is no longer spinning.

The best method of recovering data from a failed hard drive may be seeking the help of a computer professional. It is possible, however, that placing a hard driver in the freezer will get it to spin long enough for a person to recover at least some of his data. This fix is usually only applied in cases in which the hard drive has stopped spinning, which may mean its damage is physical. If the drive is still spinning, however, an individual may do well to try a different method of fixing it.


Typically, a person who wants to try this fix places his hard drive in a plastic bag that zips shut before putting it in the freezer. This helps prevent moisture from further damaging the hard drive. An individual may also consider using an anti-static bag to enclose the hard drive before placing it in the zippable bag. This extra step may also help keep the hard drive safe. Once it is safely enclosed in a zippable plastic bag, the computer user may place the hard drive in the freezer for a couple of hours.

After leaving a hard drive in the freezer for a couple of hours, a computer user will typically remove it from the freezer and immediately install it in his computer. It is critical that a person who tries this fix copies data from it as quickly as possible, as the hard drive will probably only work for a short time. In some cases, a person who uses this method may get his hard drive to work for about 20 minutes, but that’s not always the case. A person may also try to freeze his hard drive for a bit longer in an effort to get the hard drive to spin for longer and secure more time for data recovery. For example, placing a hard drive in a freezer for 24 hours may sometimes provide additional data recovery time.


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Post 2

@bythewell - Which is why everyone should back up as much as they can. If possible, set your computer up so that it periodically saves files to an online server or to an external hard drive. Don't rely on a single place to back your stuff up. They seem old fashioned now, but I still back up my work onto CDs. As long as you look after them, they will last for a while.

I've still got stories I wrote almost 20 years ago by being careful about this. And it gives you piece of mind when working with computers, which are always going to be fickle.

Post 1

I have lost data over the years when I haven't backed up carefully enough and the hard drive stopped working. In some cases, it seems like there is nothing anyone can do to fix it, not even the professionals.

So, if you take it to people like that and they can't fix it, make sure you ask for it back so that you can try things like the freezer trick. They will sometimes keep the drive so that they can recycle it for you, since you'll only be tossing it out anyway.

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