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Piyono

Drive-sicle

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I opend the rear driver-side door of my car this morning to find my portable HD staring up at me from the back seat. I'm a trusting sod, and I rarely lock my car doors. Still, I don't like to tempt fate by leaving my valuables open to theft. I hereby sentence myself to a life of making an effort to remembering stuff.

Sure would have made for a good data-loss story, though -- if of different nature.

Anyway, my drive wasn't simply just outside, it was outside in the -20ºC Toronto winter night.

Can cold temps damage a drive? Should I let the drive return to room temperature before powering it up?

Piyono

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Can cold temps damage a drive? Should I let the drive return to room temperature before powering it up?

You may want to check the manufacurers spec's. For non-operating conditions it should be okay. Let it warm up gradually to room temperature before trying to use it. Play it on the patient side and you should be okay.

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Definately give it pleanty of time to warm up before powering on. If it doesn't feel like it's room temp, keep waiting. You want to make sure that there is no excessively different thermal expansions going on.

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Cold storage specs are often down to -5 C (sometimes a bit lower). I don't think you caused any damage to your drive. Just make sure you give plenty of time for it to come back to room temperature. On multipacks of hard drives, there are usually instructions printed as to how long you need to let the drives sit at room temperature before opening the box/using the drives, depending on how cold the storage temperature was. I figure give it a good 24 hours and you'll be good to go.

If you try to run the drive too soon, the grease in the pivot and motor bearings might not be working right and you may not be able to spin up the drive. Plus, the disk lube might be behaving differently, so the heads might fly oddly.

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P,

Actually, you can just toss it in a microwave and set it on 30% power for about 5-10 minutes to get the drive evenly up to room temperature - that will eliminate any potential for uneven expansion, and ensure that the lubes are all warmed up. This will also work to ensure that any interior condensation can be evaporated through the outside port (you know, the hole they sticker says never to cover on a drive).

Future Shock

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YES IT'S A BLOODY JOKE! Don't do it - really!

God it sure was cold last night even here in New York, but now I know why I don't live in Cananda...

FS

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Don't joke about metal in microwaves.  People don't read down to the "it's a joke part" before causing an explosion.

Yes, metal in a microwave is interesting. I made the mistake of warming up some dinner rolls one time. I left them in the bread basket, which I presumed was simply a weaved basket. Well, it was weaved, but it had wire in it to help hold the shape. I tossed them in, turned it on and walked away. It was quite a light show inside there.

So yes, no microwave ... just toss the drive in an oven or sit it beside the fireplace. :D

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Don't joke about metal in microwaves.  People don't read down to the "it's a joke part" before causing an explosion.

It had been over 4 1/2 hours since Piyono had posted his original message - I wasn't too worried about him emulating my joke...the drive was certainly warmed up by then.

Also, after a year on this board my opinion of Piyono is such that I KNOW he wouldn't do such a thing...the disclaimer afterwards is for others that may consider trying it some other time...

FS

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Try holding the drive in your arm pit for 5-10 minutes. Brrrr!!

We've shipped machines in Northen Alberta, Canada in -30 weather in the back of pickups to remote sites. We've then brought them inside, turned the freezing machines on after 10 minutes, and they've worked just fine. Good for the hard drives? No. But they worked anyhow!

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Nice try, fellas, but you're not gonna put one over on me that easily!

..Now, then, was that three minutes on medium or high?

;)

When I was in college in 1996/1997, my course load required us to fill studio and lab time through the night. CDs were still about CAN$3, or so, a pop, and the one, lonely 2× Sony burner was given to spitting out coasters now and then. A bad night in the lab could cost you twelve bucks. As luck had it, one night at 3am or so I was 3 or 4 coasters into what was should have been a routine burn. My assignment was due in nine hours and I was at the end of my rope. I felt a little venting was in order. I gathered the ungood CDRs and headed with a buddy to the school cafeteria, where lived a large, industrial-strength microwave. I tossed the CDs in, dialed up two seconds on 'high' and stood back. Now, I don't know what sort of die they used in those CDs, but the ensuing shower of sparks was indeed something magnificent to behold. I highly recommend that anyone with a vendetta against a CD try this method of execution. It's thoroughly satisfying, although the smoke is putrid.

I hung the newly decorated plastic discs in the MIDI lab in defiance, and to demonstrate my terrible new power.

Oohh -- hard drive's done!

Piyono

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Incidentally, if drives can't operate at sub-zero temperatures, what do people do for computers in, say, Antarctica? There are, after all, scientists working outdoors down there, right? What do they do for storage?

Piyono

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Incidentally, if drives can't operate at sub-zero temperatures, what do people do for computers in, say, Antarctica? There are, after all, scientists working outdoors down there, right? What do they do for storage?

I'm sure they make Mil Spec drives that operate down to something like -55° C. If not, solid state certainly can even though it's still a bit pricey. The only problem with operating electronics in very cold weather is the condensation when you bring it indoors. If you let it warm up before turning it on, no problem. Operating in the cold by itself is actually better for electronics, as many overclockers using Peltier coolers realize.

BTW, not too long ago I stuck a bad drive in the freezer in an attempt to get the data off it. Right after I took it out, I wrapped it in Saran wrap(to keep the moisture out) and plugged it in. It actually worked! After it warmed up again it was back to usual. Previously, I had made about a dozen attempts to read the data without resorting to the "freezer trick". They all ended in failure. The drive had all my friend's data from his business on it, so he was quite happy to finally get a CD with the drive's contents, albeit a few months after he gave me the drive for data recovery. Since the drive is dead and almost worthless(it's 3.8 GB), I might try the freezer trick again just for kicks and see if it works a second time around. Since the data's already safe and sound in a few places, I have nothing to risk losing.

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if you are not in rage try puting a CD in your house microwave at power1 for a few sec, nothing is gonna explode or crash, but gonna watch some nice lights/sparks on the CD. looks cool :)

as for harddrives my laptop here in Toronto works fine after about half an hour warming after being carried in a backpack for about 15 minuts (in -10 or so i guess). I do have a mirror copy on a similar drive though, heh, just in case :]

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An easy way to warm up a hard drive that has recently been out in the cold is to put it on top of the back of a monitor that has been running for a while.

Almost always in an office you will find a monitor that is nice and warm.

And depending on how cold the drive was, it could take just a few minutes (you can tell by feel when it's ok).

The great thing is that although it's warm, a monitor will never be too hot. And so if you forget that you've put it there for like an hour, it's no problem. One time I put a frigid hard drive on top of a furnace, but forgot for about 2 hours. It was almost too hot to touch and I had to let it cool for over half an hour and I was worried that I had cooked it.

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Don't joke about metal in microwaves.  People don't read down to the "it's a joke part" before causing an explosion.

What's the problem with metal in a microwave? Sure, it acts as an antenna, and you may get a pretty shower of sparks depending on the object's dimensions, but it's better than running a microwave with no load at all!

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