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One of my hard drives on a RAID0 setup failed and I have basically nothing to lose. There's a trick that seems to be more than a myth that involves taking a hard disk, sealing it in a bag and freezing it. This is supposed to help revive the disk for a limited time in order to get data from it.

If this works what I'd like to do is clone the disk onto a healthy drive. Apparently, there's a Linux live cd out there that's been made specially for cloning. What I want to do is take the less time possible to get the cloning process going.

At the moment I'm thinking of opening up a PC, hooking up a healthy drive on a sata connector, getting the bad drive out of the freezer, hooking it up and then booting the computer from a cd.

This is where I need some advice. I've never done this before and would appreciate any advice on precautions I should take to maximize chances of data recovery. For example, should the hard drive be left to warm a bit before being powered up?

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Just Googling around about it, it seems like placing it in a ziplock is pretty critical (which makes sense). If it shorts out with the moisture from the freezer then you're really SOL. –  jonsca May 8 '11 at 15:38
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I have not done it before but if I were you I wouldn't clone the drive unless all the data is important... boot into a live cd and copy the important data off quickly. –  Arctor May 8 '11 at 15:51
    
Ok, so what you suggest is booting a PC with the original raid configuration (Asus A7N8x deluxe controller). This leaves the question of whether the live cd will recognize the raid drive. –  James Poulson May 8 '11 at 16:01
    
I wouldn't boot in the RAID configuration but rather a) just put the drive into another machine or b) skip the RAID and hook it straight to the mainboard –  slhck May 8 '11 at 16:57
    
Is it possible to access the filesystem (NTFS) in this way? RAID0 is striped data. –  James Poulson May 8 '11 at 17:14
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2 Answers

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First of all. If your data is really important to you consult with a professional datarecovery company and do NOT attempt to start your drive as this will only make matters worse (small particles might fly around inside the drive and crash into the platter and cause more particles to break loose... etc etc)

The freezer trick might work but if you attempt to do this you need to seal your disk in a plastic bag to prevent condensation. Also when done with the freezer thing you should start your disk in a cold room (also to prevent condensation). You can also try to change the orientation of the disk and see if that helps. As a last resort you can even try dropping your disk from a few centimeters height.

Once you get your disk running you have several possible solutions A: Forget about your RAID and try to make a image of the disk. If lucky the disk can be read in one operation and the read/write head does not have to dance around the disk too much. Restore the image on a healthy disk and use that get your (striped) raid running again.

B: Start your raid and only copy the most important files first to a fresh disk as soon as possible.

There are several good reasons to avoid both methods and rather trust your data to professionals. Good luck!

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Dropping the drive sounds like a bad idea.. Wouldn't that just add to the damage? –  Simon Sheehan May 29 '11 at 0:02
    
Dropping the drive IS a bad idea and WILL add to the damage. However if something is stuck between the read head and/or the platter a shock might be the thing the drive needs if ALL ELSE FAILS! PS! Also note that replacing the electronics on the drive very unlikely to succeed for various reasons as well. Edit: If you choose to drop the drive try from different angles! –  Waxhead May 29 '11 at 21:38
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I have had success with the drive-in-the-freezer trick the one time I tried it back in the mid '90s.

This trick only works with physical problems in the drive. In my case, the bearing on the motor that spins the platters had seized up, which was pretty apparent since the usual hum and vibrations were not there when the drive was powered up.

It is essential to put the drive in a seal-able bag first to prevent condensation on and in the drive. Leave it there for a while, maybe try 30 minutes, then move it immediately into the computer and power it up.

In my case, the bearing and motor shaft shrank just enough from the cold to free the bearing, which allowed the motor to spin the platters. The drive continued to operate for as long as I left it running, giving me plenty of time to copy all of the data. Once the drive was powered down and left to sit though, it wouldn't start again without a trip through the freezer, but I was done with it anyway and it went in the garbage instead.

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