Tricks to Make a Hard Drive Spin Up

By Contributing Writer

Updated July 21, 2017

Hard Drives are subject to heat, and this causes the motor that rotates and holds the spindle of the drive platters in place to wear over time. Once this happens, the drive is susceptible to locking up. Then booting errors are likely to occur that indicate that the hard drive is no longer "visible" to the system that is utilizing it. The drive might spin again using these tricks.

Third Party Drive Recovery

You can send your drive to a third party hard drive recovery company to see if they can get the hard drive to spin and thereby recover your data. While they might have some techniques and tricks that you do not, they still might not be successful. Plus, this will cost money for the shipping and the service.

Freeze the Drive

This trick has limited results based on how badly the drive is locked up. The reason that this can work is because the freezing causes the components of the drive to shrink. (Heat expands objects; cold contracts them.)

Wrap the hard drive in a paper towel to absorb any moisture around the drive. Place the drive in a ziplock bag and put it into the freezer. Leave it there for several hours (to help make sure that this technique has a chance to work, leave it in for 8 hours).

Once you take the “frozen” drive from the freezer, plug it back into your device and start it up right away. Then use a data recovery tool or technique to get your data. You must perform this quickly, because the drive will likely lock up again once it reaches a high enough temperature.

Remove the Cover

Taking the cover off of the drive will void the warranty but depending on how critical your data is, it might not be an issue. Once you remove the top cover from a drive, you are instantly subjecting it to dust and dirt from the air around it, so work quickly.

Keep your fingers and tools away from the actuator arm that holds the heads above the platter of the drive. If you push down on this arm, and the head makes contact with the surface of the platter, you can cause irreparable damage.

Connect the drive to the device that uses it, and power it on with the drive platter and mechanism in full view. If the drive platter does not spin up, then use a soft item such as a pencil eraser and gently coax the drive to spin by moving the platter on the outer edge. Do not contact the surface of the platter at any time.

If the drive spins up and you are able to obtain access to your data, you will want to back it up immediately and then place it onto another drive. If the drive spins up but the device will not boot, then there is a different problem probably associated with the actuator.