After a bit of a panic with a seemingly dead hard drive recently, my brother-in-law suggested something I long thought was an urban legend — freezing my hard drive. Yes, he was suggesting I literally put my hard drive into the freezer, next to the frozen bananas and emergency vodka, in hopes that it would come back to life. I was just about to try this trick when my hard drive came back — no cryogenics necessary.
However, I didn't give up on the frozen hard drive theory like that; I went to my favorite urban legend dispellers that I knew I could trust: The Mythbusters! And, of course, they had an answer: Yes, it does work!
How does it work? Just
to see the answer.
Sticking your hard drive in the freezer for a while shrinks the overheated, overexpanded metal parts back into place (you'll know that's the problem if you hear a clicking noise) long enough for you to retrieve your data.
If you want to try this yourself, put the part inside a sealed Ziploc bag and let it sit in there for at least an hour (there are Internet accounts of going for 24 hours to a month, though). What's important to know is that this is your last resort, and that it will only work temporarily. So that means once you've done it, reinstall it, get all the files off and backed up, and then buy yourself a new hard drive.