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StoX

How to REFRIGERATE an external mobile disk?

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Is there a way to REFRIGERATE an external mobile disk? It is used to boot Macs at home and at work (a way to carry all the work from one place to another), and overheats, blocking the Mac.

LaCie Rugged Hard Disk 320GB 7200 rpm

http://www.lacie.com/us/products/product.htm?pid=11135

Thanks.

It is not an ice-cream.

Refrigeration is not used for heat removal. It is used to preserve temperature. Have your drive checked. You have some problems probably not related to overheating. DO NOT JUST SHOVE IT IN THE FRIDGE -- condensation will damage your PCB and drive.

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Quick and dirty fix - point a desk fan at it, see if that helps at all.

It shouldn't be breaking due to overheating - the manual says it should cope with room temperatures of up to 35ºC as long as it's not in direct sunlight or very close to a radiator or other heat source.

If your room gets that hot, consider air conditioning!

If the room isn't that hot, it's more likely to be a faulty drive - LaCie should replace any drive (in warranty) that fails to operate correctly in the specified operating conditions in the manual.

Don't mess with cooling stuff (especially hard disk drives) to temperatures below ambient room temperature* unless you are prepared to deal with condensation. Processors, graphics cards, chipsets, even PSUs, if you know what you're doing, but not hard disks.

*Not to be confused with water cooling - if you're using ambient air to cool the radiator and there are no thermoelectric devices to actively chill anything, then there's no risk of cooling anything below ambient. But that's drifting a little off-topic.

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A peltier could do this with lower risk of condensation on the PCB.

The cold side of a peltier (thermoelectric) element that contacts the device to be cooled is almost always colder than room temperature, and therefore can (and does most of the time) cause condensation.

http://www.dansdata.com/pelt.htm

"Any time you put an object that's cooler than the ambient air temperature in air that's not at zero per cent relative humidity, water can condense on it. Whether water actually will or not's determined by the temperature of the object and the humidity - the higher the relative humidity, the closer to ambient temperature an object can be and still attract condensation.

The cold side of a working Peltier is considerably cooler than ambient - that's the whole idea - and so it'll get damp."

Spod's advice seems correct.

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A peltier could do this with lower risk of condensation on the PCB.

The cold side of a peltier (thermoelectric) element that contacts the device to be cooled is almost always colder than room temperature, and therefore can (and does most of the time) cause condensation.

Of course it does. This is why I did not say "no risk".

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From the original post, you can understand this is not a technical conversation. No point in introducing TECs to a novice.

A peltier could do this with lower risk of condensation on the PCB.

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Thanks for the answers. The cooling was just to recover data from the disk without the Mac blocking. Believe it or not, an ice pack (out from the freezed) inside a plastic bag on top of the external overheating disk did the trick. With a little help from me taking the freezing block out and over the disk to keep it cool but not to freeze!

It worked fine since November 2008, but started overheating and blocking the Mac when the ambient temperature reached abour 40 degrees Celsius, even though the disk was inside a refrigerated building. Now LaCie is repairing it.

Edited by StoX

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I second Spod's recommendation not to cool the drive below room temperature.

Even if you deal with the condensation problem, mechanical HDDs are much less reliable at cold temperatures than at hot. Cold temperatures can cause poor writes for a number of reasons. At cold temps the magnetic fields on the media are more difficult to change. Older and/or cheaper drives do not have "fly height adjustment" of the heads and the write head can be too far away from the media when the drive starts a write. This compounds the difficulty of writing at cold temperature.

At Maxtor we tested desktop drives at an ambient temperature of 60 degrees C for thousands of hours. The 1,000,000 hours mean time to failure test was 1000 drives running 1000 hours at 60C, with only 1 failure allowed. The failure rates at cold temperatures were much higher but of course not published.

Most drives do not need active cooling unless they are part of a massive disk array. I wonder if LaCie's drive enclosure does not have good circulation and is insulating/cooking the drive in this case.

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I second Spod's recommendation not to cool the drive below room temperature.

Even if you deal with the condensation problem, mechanical HDDs are much less reliable at cold temperatures than at hot. Cold temperatures can cause poor writes for a number of reasons. At cold temps the magnetic fields on the media are more difficult to change. Older and/or cheaper drives do not have "fly height adjustment" of the heads and the write head can be too far away from the media when the drive starts a write. This compounds the difficulty of writing at cold temperature.

At Maxtor we tested desktop drives at an ambient temperature of 60 degrees C for thousands of hours. The 1,000,000 hours mean time to failure test was 1000 drives running 1000 hours at 60C, with only 1 failure allowed. The failure rates at cold temperatures were much higher but of course not published.

Most drives do not need active cooling unless they are part of a massive disk array. I wonder if LaCie's drive enclosure does not have good circulation and is insulating/cooking the drive in this case.

Thanks. Well, the fact was that without such ice-pack cooling, I had the reported issue (Mac being blocked). Only with such cooling I could recover the disk contents. Thanks in any case.

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Ambient temperature above 40'c is way too hot to be running an external drive in, especially if the manual says the maximum is 35.

Oh and also, a fan is the only solution I would ever recommend under these circumstances, unless you've got direct access to the drive's internal temperature readings.

Edited by qasdfdsaq

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Ambient temperature above 40'c is way too hot to be running an external drive in, especially if the manual says the maximum is 35.

Oh and also, a fan is the only solution I would ever recommend under these circumstances, unless you've got direct access to the drive's internal temperature readings.

The 40 degrees C is outside the buildings, where the disk is never used. The disk is always used inside, where there is air conditioning (about 28 degrees C or so at most). Curiously, the disk gets hotter in the morning when there is no air conditioning, than the afternoons with air conditioning, even with the same ambient temperature on both cases. I guess that is because the air conditioning generates streams of cold air that refrigerate better the disk.

The new repaird disk arrived a few days ago, and so far, so good.

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