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Knoppix - Getting my HDD out of the freezer.

 
David O'Meara
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This is a short story to tell the tail leading up to me installing Knoppix.

I originally had a 20Gb drive in my old computer many moons ago, but when I bought a digital video camera it wasn't nearly large enough, so I bought a 120Gb drive to replace it.

The 20Gig drive was still useful, so I left it a slave for backup data. This worked fine for a while, but then one day my Win2k OS started throwing strange errors. While searching for the source of the errors, the 20Gb drive died. BIOS would no longer recognise it and obviously I couldn't do anything with it.

I had to think hard to remember what was on it, some Java APIs, a couple of video editing projects, nothing too bad. Then I remembered I'd moved the only copy of the photos of my son's first year there, planning to back them up to another media. (Let life be a lesson to you :} )

I pulled out the defective drive and had it sitting in a plastic bag for a while, wondering what to do with it. A friend pointed out that you can sometimes extend the life of a dead drive for a short period by putting it in the freezer. (google +harddrive +freezer +atomic)

Dubious, I gave it a go. Sure enough, I was able to get the stage where the BIOS would again recognise the drive and it would get a few minutes through the startup before the drive would stop responding and the computer would fail to get to the desktop.

The harddrive has been sitting in my freezer for several months now, still in the same plastic bag.

Recently I found out about KNOPPIX, a Linux build which boots and runs from a CD. I've got it running now and I'm in the process of testing it, but the theory (from the article I saw) is that by using KNOPPIX to boot from the CD-ROM and mount the drives, they don't heat as much during the start-up process and gave a better chance of recovering data.

That's my next step, but I just though putting harddrives in freezers and running an OS from a RAM-Drive created by a CD was fun. If this fails I may 'archive' the old drive and one day consider paying for professional data recovery.
 
Petr Blahos
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Why don't you connect the drive and put it back in a freezer?
If you carefully prepare the operation I think it will take
no longer than, like 10 minutes, so you can leave the fridge
open and only close the freezer door. That could be done even
with rather short cables.

I think you are not booting from this drive anyway, so I don't
think it would make much difference wether you boot from a CD
or a HDD.

Good luck!
Petr
 
David O'Meara
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That was also suggested inthe thread I read and believe me I considered it, but my cables aren't long enough and I'm concerned about the condensation that builds up on the drive as it cools. Nice idea though.

I managed to have a small amount of success. Moved 4 (out of several hundred) photos to the good drive. I'm fighting two problems at the moment.

I haven't been able to reliably open the good drive for writing. The security on Knoppix makes all drives read-only, and I'm not sure how I got the 4 images across, it kept giving errors and not showing any files even after refreshing.

It also comes with cd burning software and I was considering writing to a cd, but you boot from the CD-rom and either that is blocking it from working or it just doesn't work...

Then there's the limitted time you have to play before needing to put the drive back in the freezer. All good fun though.
 
Ben Souther
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Hehe.

Hi honey, welcome home..
....
What's that?...
...
Oh, well I had to drill those holes so I could run the cables out to PC without having to keep the door open. Didn't want the food to spoil.
...
What's the matter?
===============================================

Seriously though, have you considered carving a slot out of a piece of styrofoam to put the hard drive in after a night in the fridge? Maybe with enough room to sandwich it between two pieces of something else that are also cold (some junk hard drives or something else metal that will hold the cold). That might extend the chill just long enough to get the rest of the pics.
 
David O'Meara
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That's not a bad idea. When I connect the drive I leave it in the bag to prevent condensation forming on it, but putting a couple of cold packs may give me a couple more minutes. Can't hurt.

Although I think I only have one cold pack. If only I'd thought of freezing it inside a chicken.
 
Tim Holloway
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KNOPPIX doesn't actually make drives read-only, it's just that Microsoft likes to screw around with NTFS (they did a nasty on IBM in the OS/2 days) so no one likes to certify that linux NTFS drivers can write for fear of trashing the filesystem and/or the extended attributes - especially the SIDs. You can write to FAT devices (hard drives, floppies, USB memory devices) just fine.
 
Ben Souther
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Originally posted by David O'Meara:
If only I'd thought of freezing it inside a chicken.


If you do that, please PLEASE take a picture and post it somewhere.
[ January 21, 2005: Message edited by: Ben Souther ]
 
David O'Meara
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I haven't had any further luck with writing to the NTFS patition from Knoppix, i may have to find some way to create a temporary FAT partition for writing to. It's created a few corrupted files and directories to my harddrive too.
 
Ben Souther
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Why can't you make the 'chilled' hard drive a slave to a windows box?
 
David O'Meara
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I had that in my first post, but windows takes too long to boot and uses the harddrive too much (no idea why), so the drive warmed up and stopped responding, which halts the startup process.
 
Ben Souther
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Sorry, I missed that.

Maybe it'll work in the chicken
 
David O'Meara
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Success.

Basically my steps were:

Get a spare 10Gb drive, format it as FAT. In my case, it was already FAT32 so I just kept it like that.
(The extra drive wasn't really required, but I found KNOPPIX didn't like the NTFS file system on the origal master drive. It means I needed to an intermediate disk then to the master, but I preferred this since i didn't want to resize and partition the master drive.)
Mount the temp drive as master and the bad drive as slave (hda and hdb respectively)
I placed the bad drive between two cold packs (no chickens were harmed during this process). This may not have been necessary, but my gut feel was it gave me a few more minutes of life from the drive.
Start Knoppix, right click hda, properties, devices, unselect 'read only'
Mount hda and hdb.
Copy as much as I wanted from the bad to the good drive.
shutdown, remount the master and the temp drive as the slave.
Restart windows, copy from the temp to the master drive.

An extra point to note is that the temp drive could have been left as the slave in both steps, but I tend to have all my drives set to 'cable select', so it's easy to move them around anyway.

Extra step not yet completed: Copy all this crap to a separate media so I don't go through this again.
 
Ben Souther
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Originally posted by David O'Meara:
Extra step not yet completed: Copy all this crap to a separate media so I don't go through this again.


There's no need to rush

Congratulations
 
David O'Meara
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Yeah yeah, point taken
 
Chetan Parekh
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Check this : 200 ways to revive a hard drive
[ August 02, 2005: Message edited by: Chetan Parekh ]
 
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