The past couple of months, I've had the feeling that something was going to break with regards to my computer. Civ V start-up was taking increasingly more time, Hearthstone was choppy, and iTunes was running into all sorts of random corrupted songs that used to play/transfer just fine. I chalked the iTunes issues up to my music library being too large for the software to handle (about 120GB worth.) Civ V I figured was just the software being large/obtrusive. Hearthstone... well it's in beta, so :P
Sunday, I woke up and my computer blue screened on me twice when all I was running was iTunes and Firefox. Saddened, I figured it was time to reformat my OS drive, reinstall Windows, the whole she-bang. Luckily(?) when my computer booted up next to ensure the files I wanted to keep were moved off the OS drive to my data drive, I noticed my data drive (1 of 2) had failed. This was my 500GB drive, oldest data drive I'm still using (at least 6+ years), never had an OS on it... it's not really surprising that it failed.
At first I was relieved that I wouldn't have to reformat my machine, and then I started freaking out about being able to save my files from the drive. I have a backup drive, but it's not within a year recent. And then I calmed down, remembering that I don't really add many things to these folders anymore. Some resume information, pictures... and then I lost it again, worrying about the pictures of Michael and I that are there and haven't been backed-up. And my music... a collection built-up since middle/high school...
The drive was almost completely unresponsive. I could start to copy files over, but after maybe 5 it would stop. I could wait about a minute and hit "try again", it would copy another few files, and it would stop again. I removed the drive from the computer, plugged it in externally, and was able to transfer a few more things before it would disconnect, and then immediately reconnect. However, the file transfers wouldn't pick back up. I figured it may have had something to do with it resting while I found the external hookup, and asked James and Curtis for suggestions. Ended up deciding on the "freezer trick", which I hadn't heard of before. I double ziploc-bagged the hard drive and placed it in the freezer for about an hour and a half.
I managed to get about 10 minutes worth of files off before it would crap out on me. I continued to switch-off between the freezer and file transferring until I went to bed, and managed to get everything except half of my music off by mid-afternoon today (the impending "ice storm" had me working from home.) I'm thinking I'll be able to get the remaining music off in another 2 or 3 freezes, so I'm happy about that. At the very least, my work files, resumes, pictures, and paperwork have all been saved. Oh, and why Civ V was related at all- this was not only my data drive, but my Steam installation drive as well. However, besides screenshots, there wasn't anything to really worry about with regard to losing Steam.
I don't know if I'm a believer of the "freezer trick", only because I think the reason it mostly works is related to allowing the hard drive to rest before attempting to utilize it again. (*KNOCK ON WOOD*)