Hard disks in the freezer. Not a myth?

Last week one of hard disks in our cluster failed. all of a sudden it was not detectable by the BIOS and it emits loud clicking noises. It had 3 Xen guests running on it and as they were work in progress I stupidly did not back them up! One of the guests was the web server and it had the wiki with all the documentation on it. Needless to say I was in a very bad way. However I had read about this idea of putting the hard disk into a freezer for a while. I didn’t really have anything to lose so I decided to try.

I put it in the freezer for a while then tried to access it with a IDE to USB converter without any luck. It did however stop the clicking noises for a while. I repeated the freezing process then trying attaching it to the server vi the IDE cable. This time I got better results. The BIOS recognized the drive! it even reached the loading grub stage. Then it started making the clicking noises again.

It was my supervisor, Alistair who jokingly (at least I don’t think he was serious) talked about using it inside the freezer. So that is exactly what I did!

I took the drive home with me, attached the cables and put it all in the freezer. The next day I fixed it so that the power and USB cables are reaching outside the freezer with the freezer door shut and the hard disk freezing inside. I attached the USB cable to my laptop and attached the power cable and to my utter surprise the disk came up! I ‘dd’ed 2 of the Xen guests as their partitions were only 1GB each and I backed up some files from the 3rd at it was a 20GB partition.

All in all I am very happy that I was able to recover and I give thanks to Allah that he saw me through. 🙂 So next time you have a hard disk failure, try the freezer trick. It just might work.

2 Responses to “Hard disks in the freezer. Not a myth?”

  1. Mahmoud AlGammal Says:

    Zein, I’ve been trying to reach you on your email. Please contact me whenever you can. (btw, nice trick! You told me about it back at Gawab 🙂 )

  2. AbdelRahman ElGammal Says:

    Really very nice trick. I’ll remember it insha’Allah.

Leave a Reply