Recover 2TB dying drive

I have a 2TB drive that's just started to die on me. The transfer speeds start slow when the computer boots then drop to nothing shortly after. Plugging it into another computer yields the same results.

Anyway I have around 30GB of data I need from it and the rest I can scrap but I can't get more than a few mb off each time I plug it in.

What's the best recovery option? I'm assuming it works at first because it's cool and then quickly heats up, which slows speeds (or makes read errors). Is sticking it in the freezer and then using it while it's cool a good idea? I seem to recall people doing that with their laptops.
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  1. umm, I wouldn't recommend it, I'd stick it in front of an air-conditioner or have a fan consistently blow it on it. Anyways, the old hard fashion approach is to grab files in small batches.
  2. Sticking a hard drive in a freezer might be extreme, but it does often help. However, I'm not sure about how cold you'd want to let it get... I'm sure that at some point, if it's too cold and you try to use it, some of the moving parts might get even more damaged.
  3. @fantastik
    the thing is, it doesn't actually get hot, just very slightly warmer on the outside before it stops working. Since the casing doesn't get much warmer than ambient I don't believe a fan will help much.
    Now if I had proper cooling on it in the first place it likely wouldn't have broken... but it was an old prebuilt with no front air intake.

    I read up a bit on freezing it and I haven't heard of anyone breaking it that way, but that makes sense. I think I'll risk it though since it would take weeks to get the data off 3-10MB at a time.
  4. okay, update time.

    I've frozen (24+ hours) and used the hdd 3 times now and recovered about 15GB. The drive works fast for about 5ish minutes and then slowly for about 20 minutes.

    Tons of condensation appears but it seems to have no impact (I let it dry before freezing it obviously). I believe the inside of the drive is sealed so no water got in there and the outside only has sensitive parts on the bottom where there was not much condensation.

    So, in recap:
    A drive that works from a cold boot but quickly slows down to near zero speeds can have it's data recovered in the following way:
    -stick the drive in a anti-static bag, then into a ziplock and then into the freezer for 24+ hours.
    -pull it out of the freezer and put it on the desk beside you computer (flat hard surface).
    -if your computer boots fast, attach sata and power and boot up your computer.
    -if your computer boots slowly (over a minute), consider using an external solution (e-sata, usb to sata, hot swappable bay, etc)
    -recover data until the drive gets very slow. Ignore condensation (unless you have a solution for it).
    -unplug and let the drive sit for another 24 hours or so at room temperature to dry.
    -restart the above steps.
  5. That's a nifty little experiment. But i'm surprised that it's still functioning.
  6. Just to be safe, you could try using a towel or something similar to keep the bottom of the hard drive dry, but it doesn't seem to be a problem from what you've said. Theoretically, you could try speeding up the recovery by using ice packs or such on the drive to increase the time frame in which it operates, but I'm not sure of how effective that would be.

    Also, the inside of a drive is kinda sealed... I don't think that moisture can get through, but it's technically not air-tight. There are filters of some sort, but the drive is not air-tight because the air pressure of a hard drive is dynamically changed to keep the inside pressure from getting too high or too low. For example, on start-up, the disks start spinning and this increases air pressure inside the drive. So, some air is let out to stabilize air pressure. AS needed, air is let out and in. I don't think that water can get through and you're probably correct at least in that the drive should be water-tight.

    Good luck.
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