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There are certain methods to try, and others not to, when dealing with a faulty hard drive. Making the wrong move with a faulty hard drive can further complicate the data recovery process, or damage the drive even further, sometimes even making data recovery impossible.

DO NOT…

  • …put the hard drive in the freezer. There is a myth that this can restore a hard drive to a working state. This is false, and only in very rare and specific conditions is there a slight chance that it might be of use. When placed in the freezer any water vapour present in the air inside the hard drive will condense on the platters, and water inside a hard drive is a very bad idea.
  • …hit or shake or knock the hard drive. You risk serious further damage to the hard drive by employing any means of ‘percussive maintenance’.
  • …try to open the hard drive. The drive is sealed in such a way so as to prevent any contaminants from entering it. The smallest particle of skin, dust, or even smoke can cause a head crash and a serious failure.

If the hard drive is not making any unusual mechanical noises (clicking, scraping) it is safe to DO the following…

  • …remove the hard drive if it is placed in an external enclosure, or is the master drive of the computer. Connect the hard drive up to another, functioning computer via a SATA or PATA connection to see if you are able to access the data. Do this only if you feel comfortable with the safe handling of the drive.
  • …try and access the hard drive with a different operating system. If the hard drive is not being seen from within Windows you can boot off a Linux live disc and try to access the disc. For the most basic logical hard drive failure this can sometimes be enough to recover the data.
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