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Author Topic: The hard disk is in the freezer - wish me luck!  (Read 1973 times)
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What about ddrescue http://www.gnu.org/software/ddrescue/ddrescue.html instead of dd?

With regard to flash: some colleagues did high througput / endurance testing with raid arrays combined out of flash drives. They figured that these drives are less reliable in their settings than mechanical drives. The reason was that the number of firmware issues was still way to high. Things may have changed since last year but "not mechanical" does not necessarily mean "more reliable".

With regard to "fading within 10 years": last year I tried to read an old harddrive (~500 MB) and found no controller that would be willing to talk with it any more. I needed to dig out a very old PC running at 100 MHz that was finally capable to copy the data to a 3 GB hard drive (its controller would not talk with anything larger). Then I could connect the 3 GB drive to a modern controller and backup the data. So no matter how long the retention times are: once you do not have suitable controllers or interfaces anymore the retention time is basically irrelevant.
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I tried ddrescue, basically it sat there doing nothing, or put it this way, it seems to just cycle through the entire disk once every 40 minutes or so.

I see the foolishness of my ways now. I should have had a bootable disk set up, so whichever one failed, the other would boot immediately. All the installed stuff like MySQL, etc.

As it is, I thought "oh well, I'll just re-install Ubuntu and copy the files back". Wrong! First, the Ubuntu disks are somewhere in The Mess. NVM, downloaded a new one. But then it says "this version is no longer supported" so things like "apt-get update" just fail. So I can't grab the utilities I was relying on (eg. Samba, MySQL etc.).

I think you are right - some sort of RAID dual disk drive. Plus testing to make sure it works.
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Our local techie who we use for repairs once told me that most hard drive failures are caused by the circuit board / components on the drive.

He says they often recover data as follows :

Find an identical model drive.
Strip both, and from the broken drive and put the actual hard drive disks into the good drive  ( the good drive is no longer a good drive, but if the data on the bad drive is worth more than the cost of sacrificing a drive ... )
Extract the data.

just my 2cents worth
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There were data recovery houses back since the 80's that would go as far as opening a drive and moving the platters (if other methods failed) to another drive shell -but- they do it in a clean room and it ain't cheap!
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But then it says "this version is no longer supported" so things like "apt-get update" just fail. So I can't grab the utilities I was relying on (eg. Samba, MySQL etc.).

A word of advice from a sysadmin, always.. but ALWAYS install LTS releases.
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I'm moving up to an LTS release. (10.4 I think).
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The problem with Ubuntu is their release cycle pace is way too fast..
It might be OK for desktops but for servers.. LTS-only is the way to go.

Have a look on the manual for software RAID.
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I Saw that in a Hollywood flick the guys destroyed HardDrives by heating them in a Micro Wave oven(They blasted within the OVEN) and you are doing opposite of it to cure it  smiley-grin  smiley-eek-blue
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I Saw that in a Hollywood flick the guys destroyed HardDrives by heating them in a Micro Wave oven(They blasted within the OVEN) and you are doing opposite of it to cure it  smiley-grin  smiley-eek-blue

Likely that would do nothing but destroy the oven's magnatron, possibly starting a fire. The circuit board of the drive -might- have some components fry, and maybe the platters might become scrambled (depending on how well the hard drive's metal case protects it from the microwave EMF) - I don't think it would guarantee anything. Really the best way to "destroy" a hard drive is to disassemble it, smash the PCB controller, then hammer the platters (and perhaps run a de-magnetizing coil around them, or expose them to some other powerful AC magnetic field); that will likely destroy most of the information. Only an advanced recovery team/corporation might be able to pull something off of what was remaining, but it would take a ton of time and money to do so, with no guarantee that anything would be useable afterward. If that is a concern, a propane or oxyacetylene torch (or a right angle grinder) taken to the surface of the platters could fix that. Also - on laptop drives (and possibly today's higher capacity desktop drives?), the platters are made of glass/ceramic (or something else really brittle) - just beat the drive with a sledge, and the device will be pulverised; no recovery there (unless the investigators or whatnot really like complex jigsaw puzzles - though it might be interesting to pair up a one of those high-speed "hexapod" pick-n-place arms with a vision system and a jigsaw puzzle solver to try to make a system to rebuild such broken things - hmm, heck - just solving a kids jigsaw puzzle would make for an interesting project, and I am sure such a system would have other commercial and research applications).

As far as freezing a hard drive - this was really only a possible technique to use back in the "bad-ole" days of hard drives (early MFM and SCSI drives, mainly), where real oiled bearings were used; the idea being to freeze the drive to raise the viscosity of the remaining oil in the bearing to keep them from vibrating or rattling as much (back when bearing failure would ruin a drive), with the hope of being able to recover the data before the bearings warmed up. It wasn't a sure-fire thing, but it worked often enough to keep it in the bag of tricks when needed. Flipping a drive over was probably used to keep an earlier head crash (and any internal manglement) from being a problem, or possibly to shift the platter-to-head distance if there was wear in the spindle or such. Not really good for drives that used the speed of the air motion in the drive to lift the heads, but I suppose it could possibly work in an emergency.

Today's drives use different technologies and such for bearings and whatnot, so I am not sure freezing a drive could help, unless it was an issue in the motor, or maybe an overheating component on the PCB (?). But when desperate, you can try anything if it stands a chance.
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Now this was so informatic, a life time learning can be sensed from those paras.
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The reason to try freezing is to try to re-crystalize semiconductors that had gotten too warm. Back in the days of freon the guys in electronics shop had cans of what was called "50 Below" just to revive devices like transistors with. It would work.. for a while, and then they'd hit em again.

I've been told to freeze certain rechargeable batteries that don't take a full charge and then give them a real good charging to try and get them at least partially revived. Again, it's about crystals.
 
If you want to see the end of a hard drive then take the cover off in an office or home environment. Then see how many run-seconds to the first head crash.
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If you want to see the end of a hard drive then take the cover off in an office or home environment. Then see how many run-seconds to the first head crash.

You obviously don't recall the days of case modding many years ago when people used to purposely do this to hard drives to make them "look cool" in their cases. What was interesting is that, while the drives did have decreased lifetime (and this wasn't an issue, because typically some old low-GB/MB drive was used), they actually lasted longer than people expected them too (much longer than seconds, certainly). Then again, they didn't leave them permanently exposed either (the process was generally to run a hot shower in a bathroom, then turn off the water and let the condensation settle and dry out, with the door closed - this would remove a ton of dust from the air. Then, they would take the drive in, and quickly swap the metal cover for a custom acrylic one that was bought or made).
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A method I did for a contest piece was a Tupperware tub, and glove access added to the sides

the acrylic soon to be replacement cover was CNC-ed to match the top plate footprint and gasket fittings (I had 2 drives) with a radio active design,UV side lit and UV painted , flame polished edges ... did not cost much at all as I was working at a light bulb WD, and knew a few people into sign and neon making ... anyway

cut and sealed holes in the side of the tub, sealed with silicone and rubber gloves (like thick latex things I found at the local industrial pile shop before they went out of biz 7-8 years ago), washed, washed, tac clothed, 99% alcohol washed 2 times. dropped everything I needed into the bin, sealed top with pipe dope, one item was a 99% alcohol esd wipe, wiped everything down though the gloves and did the deed.

compaq pentium 3 -550Mhz pizza box, 80 gig hard disk 1 gig of ram (this is like 2004 mind you) every single inch of the case sanded down with car grade crap, piano gloss black mirror finish (I know a ton of people in the piano industry who provided many tips) and a acrylic top cut into the metal case. The PCB's were painted with UV purple, the IC's UV green, I even sat there and painted the leads of the chips with a brush along with artistically selected PCB traces (though neither were perfect I did put a ton of effort in it) . Then took the pizzabox desktop, made a custom stand for it out of wood so it sat upright like a tower, bondo-ed the crap out of it and applied the same gloss black ...

In the end it looked like it could be a flowing drop of ink with a tron world on the side, that 80 gig maxtor ran 24/7 for 4 years, then I stuck the system in storage where it was stolen by some yuts in public storage where I used to live, I will see if I can dig up a picture

edit: I won that contest, made enough to buy a state of the art gaming pc ... in a beige box!
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The reason to try freezing is to try to re-crystalize semiconductors that had gotten too warm. Back in the days of freon the guys in electronics shop had cans of what was called "50 Below" just to revive devices like transistors with. It would work.. for a while, and then they'd hit em again.

I've been told to freeze certain rechargeable batteries that don't take a full charge and then give them a real good charging to try and get them at least partially revived. Again, it's about crystals.
 
If you want to see the end of a hard drive then take the cover off in an office or home environment. Then see how many run-seconds to the first head crash.


Well we certainly occasionally used freeze spray and heat guns to help isolate and troubleshoot bad components, especially intermittent failures. It could be very effective with certain problems. However it had nothing to do with "re-crystalize semiconductors " as I dare say there is no such thing, that's something someone made up and just passed on by you.

Lefty
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A method I did for a contest piece was a Tupperware tub, and glove access added to the sides
...
In the end it looked like it could be a flowing drop of ink with a tron world on the side, that 80 gig maxtor ran 24/7 for 4 years, then I stuck the system in storage where it was stolen by some yuts in public storage where I used to live, I will see if I can dig up a picture

Nice - I would love to see a picture of it, if you can dig one up; sucks that it was stolen, though. My condolences.

Back in the day (I was never a case-modder myself, but I did enjoy seeing what people did - and still do) I postulated on the idea of building a "clean-air glove box" (probably on /. somewhere). It looks like you took that concept and ran with it. I'm glad to hear that something like that worked out (and honestly, better than I thought it would - 24/7 for 4 years is impressive!)...

smiley
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