[Ubuntu-US-CA] Failing/failed hard disk advice

Nathan Haines nhaines at ubuntu.com
Wed Jun 18 06:33:38 UTC 2014

On 06/17/2014 01:01 PM, Alex @ Call the Ninja wrote:
> I cannot stress enough how important it is that you not do the freezer
> trick. Only do it if you have decided not to pursue professional
> recovery and have tried every other recovery operation available.
> Freezing drives causes condensation to build up on the drive platter and
> often causes un-fixable damage to the drives. Many data recovery places
> won't even accept freezer-trick drives. It rarely ever works (though I
> can say I have successfully used it on one of dozens of drives I have
> tried it with personally).

I can't even begin to count how many times I begged customers not to try 
the freezer trick when I was doing top tier support at Western Digital. 
  I even did have someone say "But I'm going to put it in a zip-lock bag 
to prevent condensation."

It was never my impression that this made drives unacceptable to data 
recovery firms, but I did warn that the amount of condensation meant 
this this was a last-effort, one-time kind of thing that was very likely 
to fail.

Basically the only thing the "freezer trick" would fix is frozen 
bearings--if that was indeed the case, which it usually *wasn't*.  Of 
course, Western Digital drives have used liquid bearings for so long 
that I never took a call for a drive that didn't have them.  (Except the 
one call I got for a 120 MB hard drive.  That was fun--he just needed 
jumper settings.)

As an aside, I once audited a German-language call where the caller was 
a computer repair shop who received 3 returns for drives that "sounded 
like they had sand in them when you tilted them".  In the call 
translation, the support agent put the customer on hold to speak with a 
manager, and then came back and said "That's perfectly normal.  Those 
are small beads that protect against dust and electrostatic discharge. 
There's a small chamber inside the drive that contains them."

At that point I immediately pulled the original call recording and 
listened to it because I knew there had to be some kind of translation 
error.  Nope, "kleines Kügelchen" and "besondere Kammer" were 
unambiguous.  Needless to say, the audit score wasn't particularly high 
on that call.  ;)


Nathan Haines
Ubuntu - http://www.ubuntu.com/

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