Should I freeze my hard drive?

Your hard drive has stopped working, and you’ve turned to the Internet for help.

There is no shortage of home remedies and recovery myths floating around along with the sound and effective advice.  What is good advice and what is bad?  Today, we’ll discuss one of the bad ideas, actually one of the worst!


To put a drive in the freezer or not, that is the question.

Well, let’s think about it for a minute; what benefit will I get from cooling the drive, what problems can I create by cooling the drive?

“My drive is hot to the touch.  Maybe that heat is causing my drive to not work.  If I freeze it, the drive will be cooler when I try to use it and maybe, just maybe it will work.”

We can see the initial logic here: eliminate heat as a potential cause of your drive not working.  If you want to rule out heat as part of the problem, just turn it off for 30 minutes, then try your drive again.  The case will have cooled to room temperature as well as all the internal components of the drive.  The real problem that heat can create is a change in the performance of a drive as it heats up or overheats.  So, the real solution is to keep the drive cool using an ice pack in a plastic bag.  You need to make sure that the drive stays dry, don’t let any condensation or melting ice contact the drive.  You are risking an electrical short otherwise.

So what could happen if you do freeze your drive?  Frozen Drive

Well it is a common misconception that a hard drive is a sealed unit.  Actually, there is a small amount of airflow in and out of the spinning platters.  So, if you put your drive in the freezer the water particles in the air will condense onto the platters when is warms back up.  The platters in a hard drive are manufactured and installed in a clean room environment – zero dust or particles in the air.  If you introduce water droplets onto a drive platter you have contaminated the platter.  Any contaminants can render the drive irrecoverable.  As water forms on the platters it interferes with the heads and how they read information from the platters.  See the following page and video about -How do Hard Drives Work.

If you are going to try and recover your own data, cool the drive down by either directing a fan to it or insulate the drive with some plastic and wrap it in a cold pack.  If the drive doesn’t initialize or work properly after this has been done, please contact us (800) 625-6451, for a free evaluation.