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Why DIY Data Recovery Attempts can Hurt Chances of Recovery

Do-it-yourself projects, or DIY projects, are becoming more and more popular, as they can be fun and cost-saving. DIY is becomingso common that there is an entire cable network devoted to it. So DIY projects sound great right? They do if they are the safe and productive DIY projects. DIY data recovery projects are the complete opposite.

Photo credit: Pete

Photo credit: Pete

These projects fall under the unsafe and counterproductive category. They almost always fail. Not to mention, the more you tinker with your device, the less likely it’ll be that data recovery professionals can save your data, and the more expensive it will be if the data is recovered.

There are many unproven and inconsistent DIY data recovery techniques that you can read about. It is important to stay away from these. At Gillware, we hear about these wacky techniques all the time, and usually it’s because the device ends up in our lab after someone attempts them. Here are some of the more common DIY data recovery methods that should not be attempted nor adapted upon.

  • Freezer or Oven Trick. Placing a hard drive in a freezer and then powering it up can short out the electronics or cause irreparable platter damage due to moisture condensing on the platters. Hard drives are designed to operate within certain environmental conditions. Extreme temperatures place the drive outside of its design specifications and can lead to rotational scoring.
  • Control Board Swaps. Control boards can look identical from one drive to another, but looks can be deceiving. Placing a non-compatible control board on a drive can turn a simple non-invasive electrical recovery into a much more complicated and expensive cleanroom recovery, or render the data unrecoverable.
  • Installing Software. Never install data recovery software on the device that you are trying to recover data from. The first rule in professional data recovery is to never alter the data on the drive from which you are attempting to recover data.
  • Caveman Approach. Never tap or hit a hard drive in order to get it running again. Doing so can lead to irreparable platter damage, which makes the hard drive completely unrecoverable. This Neanderthal tactic to data recovery never works.
  • At Home Cleanrooms. Cleanrooms are meant to be clean. There are certain procedures that need to happen for cleanrooms to be considered a cleanroom, and no matter how clean you think your home is, it isn’t up to the ISO 5, Class 100 certifications that is necessary for safe and successful data recovery.

At Gillware, when we hear about these DIY data recovery methods, we cringe. Data recovery is something that shouldn’t be experimented with. Our engineers have years of specialized data recovery training, experience and tools to do the work they do. So if your drive is showing any signs of mechanical failure, send it to our data recovery professionals.

The next time you find yourself reading about “the freezer trick,” or “the four foot drop test,” (yes, we’ve actually heard that one) stop what you are doing and call Gillware. You will save yourself time, money and more importantly, data.


  1. Paige says:

    I think my first step would have been the caveman approach. I don’t think many people realize that the hard drive is so sensitive. I would definitely take a big problem like this to a professional. Thank you for sharing!

  2. […] Do-it-yourself data recovery techniques like these always seem like a good idea at the time, but they can do more harm than good. If the data is valuable to you, leave data recovery to the experts. […]

  3. […] in the age of video tutorials and online forums, but when it comes to your hard drive, you should never attempt a cover removal or any home data recovery method yourself. When hard drives have their cover removed outside of a data recovery lab, it almost always […]

  4. […] DIY Tips When Your Drive Isn’t Detected by the […]

  5. […] lot of your problems, not everything you read on the Internet is true, especially when it comes to do it yourself data recovery techniques. At Gillware, we’ve heard all kinds of crazy at-home data recovery methods over the years. […]

  6. […] lot of your problems, not everything you read on the Internet is true, especially when it comes to do it yourself data recovery techniques. At Gillware, we’ve heard all kinds of crazy at-home data recovery methods over the years. […]

  7. Andre says:

    Hi, run into this before I indeed found that the “freezer” method invariably makes things worse on all but the oldest <900MB drives. In fact the only time its ever worked for me I am not even convinced it helped, the problem might have been a stuck actuator in the first place.
    There are rare cases when something related helps, am in the process of getting a patent on the method.

  8. […] often takes the form of rotational scoring and irreversible data loss. We don’t care much for DIY data recovery methods. They frequently make our engineers’ jobs harder and lower our chances of successfully recovering […]

  9. […] please beware, if you have data that is sensitive, it is not a good idea to tinker inside your hard drive yourself. It can be very easy to mess up and lose all of […]

  10. […] over the horizon, our thoughts drift to colder temperatures. And with it, one of our most hated DIY data recovery tricks. On our blog, we’ve talked about a few of the common data recovery myths floating around the […]

  11. […] the client not tried to use software on their own to recover their data. Like with most DIY data recovery methods, these things can do more harm than […]

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