Hundreds of hard-drive repair tips!

Fred langa By Fred Langa

Having hard-drive trouble? Don’t panic! Odds are, there’s a fix.

If the CPU is your PC’s brain, then the hard drive is its heart, pumping necessary data throughout your system. Hard drive troubles are the PC equivalent of a heart attack, but the tips below will ensure that your data has a long life!

When to put your drive in the freezer

Unbelievable! It’s been a month, and the reader e-mails are still coming in about heat and cold, and their effects on various storage media. We first discussed “How to predict CDR and DVD-R longevity” in the Feb. 8 issue. We continued with “CD-Rs don’t survive freezing temperatures” in the Feb. 22 issue, and “Cold weather can damage hard drives” in the Mar. 1 issue. We then ran “Worldwide responses to CD longevity” in the Mar. 15 issue, which covered data tapes and flash drives.

But, there’s more — as this reader note from Ken Stewart suggests — beginning with a way that extreme cold can actually benefit an ailing hard drive:

  • “Your article on hard drives having issues with cold temps brought to mind an old wives’ tale about freezing a bad hard drive, then trying to get it to work for one last time. This was a last-ditch effort to get a bad drive to come back to life one last time. I guess that was not a good idea after all. Do you know of any last-ditch method for getting a drive to come back from the dead?”
It’s not a wives’ tale, Ken. The "hard-drive-in-the-freezer" trick is a real and proven, albeit last-resort, recovery technique for some kinds of otherwise-fatal hard-drive problems. In fact, it’s part of a trio of unusual fixes that — believe it or not — can be summed up as “freeze it,” “hit it,” and “drop it"!

Clearly, these fixes run the risk of further damaging a drive. They truly are last-ditch efforts to be called upon only when you’ve already tried the normal drive fixes without success and have nothing left to lose. (We’ll come back to this in a moment.)

The freezing trick sometimes works because the mechanical contraction/expansion may help free up binding parts. Other times, the cold can help an aging, failingelectrical component to remain within specs for at least a few minutes — perhaps enough time for you to recover your essential data from the drive.

This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.

Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.

= Paid content

All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2007-03-22:

Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.