External Hard Drive Keeps Freezing/Freezes Computer #3 Solutions#

The problem: flash drive freezes when copying files

Data transfer between external hard drives and computers happens frequently. We copy files from PC to SD cards, USB flash drives, HDDs or SSDs to backup important files and free up local disk space. We also copy files the other way, thus keeping the external data on the computer. However, the data transfer process does not always go smoothly. Some users find the external hard drive freezes when moving files. Here is a post about the problem:

“I’ve been trying to transfer files to several external hard drives of mine in order to clear up space on my HDD, however every time I do begin a transfer, it will only do so for about 2-3 seconds, and then the transfer rate will drop rapidly until it is 0mb/s. It remains stuck there until Windows notifies me that something went wrong during the transfer process. Has anyone else had the same issue/know how to remedy?”


Option 3

There is a third option, and that is to simply put it off.


You can wait until a later time before you embark on the recovery of hard drive issues. Provided you do not use the drive! Well, having written that, there can be some deterioration in the drive depending on the issue over time.

Later you may have found:

  • The data doesn’t matter that much anymore and you can get by without it.
  • In time you may think this method is worth a try.
  • Later you may have better financial means to pay for professional recovery.

I (and several people I know) have had success doing this, so no it is not an old wives’ tale. Yes it is strange but it can sometimes work!

Putting hard drive in freezer

Putting hard drive in freezer

My brother-in-law and I were able to recover my mum’s hard drive data by putting it in the freezer and using it for a short while, to copy any data across that we could at that moment.

Then we put it in the freezer again, and yes you guessed it, recovered further data. We cycled her drive in the freezer that way until we had recovered everything we could. Do you really think we would risk her data – on the hard drive of our own mother?

Well, we sort of took an educated risk.

She felt the data was not recoverable, and yet we thought it was somewhat important to her. So it important to us to try this method.

There were some mitigating factors, like the body of the drive being sound and not damaged.

But we are professionals, and we have done it with success before.

I can hear the screams of the nay-sayers…

Let’s go into the background in some detail before you rush ahead.

Knowledge is power and that is what we at TheTechMentor.com aim to provide.Only you can decide if this is something you want to try. We provide other options so you can make an educated choice.

However if you are ready to start scroll on down to the steps further below.

Step 3: Cool by Putting Hard Drive in Freezer!

Then when it is all nicely sealed, put hard drive in freezer and leave it for several hours, maybe even overnight. Give plenty of time to completely and uniformly cool down to the freezer temperature.

What to Do If My Mac Hard Drive Continues to Freeze?

Mac Startup Drive Freezing!

When an internal Mac hard drive (Macintosh HD) freezes or stops functioning, macOS may not boot properly. Force shut down your Mac by pressing the power button for 2 to 3 seconds. Then perform the following steps:

  1. Turn on your Mac then press and hold the Command + R keys together. Release the keys when you see the Apple logo. Your Mac boots in the macOS Recovery mode.
  2. On the macOS Utilities window, click Disk Utility then click Continue. From the left pane of Disk Utility, select the startup disk then click First Aid. Click Run to confirm.
  3. Disk Utility verifies and repairs the startup disk for errors, bad sectors, and other issues. Wait till the process completes. There is no harm in using First Aid multiple times.

Get More Tips on Macintosh HD Repair Here.

Also, perform the following troubleshooting process:

  • Ensure 10% free space for the start-up disk
  • Install software updates provided by macOS

If none of the tips helps, then back up your Mac with Time Machine and reinstall macOS.

External Mac Hard Drive Freezing!

When an external USB Mac hard drive freezes, you can’t access the data present on the drive. If the external drive happens to be your Time Machine backup drive, you lose access to your backup.

Perform the following troubleshooting methods, when your external hard drive freezes:

  • Check the external hard drive connector, as the loose connection may result in freezing
  • Connect the external hard drive to correct USB port
  • If the drive needs an external power source, plug the power cable
  • Use First Aid of Disk Utility to fix logical errors of the external hard drive
  • Upgrade firmware of your external hard drive
  • Set the external hard disk drive not to sleep to speed up system performance
  • Disable Spotlight indexing for the external hard drive (Go to System Preferences > Spotlight > Privacy tab. Then drag the external hard drive or click the + icon to select your external hard drive and click Choose.)

Frequent device freezing suggests that you need to recover vital Mac hard drive’s data before it fails.

Back up or Recover Freezing Mac Hard Drive

If nothing works, you’ve got the following three options left:

  • Call the service center in case the hard drive is in warranty. But ensure you recover inaccessible data from the drive before you send the drive for replacement or repair, as the hardware warranty doesn’t cover data.
  • Back up or recover data by using an undelete tool for Mac. Learn more about one such tool below.
  • Contact a data recovery service provider to salvage data from the hard drive with a critical hardware issue. Situations like physical damage to your Mac hard drive is beyond the purview of data recovery software.

For startup disk’s unresolved freezing issue, remove the hard drive from your Mac and connect it to another working Mac as an external hard drive. Or else, use the Target Disk mode of the affected Mac to make its hard drive accessible as an external medium on another Mac.

But if the freezing hard drive is external, then you won’t need another Mac. Just plug in the freezing hard drive to the same Mac.

Hard Drive Freezer Trick: Gillware’s Conclusion

Freezer trick proponents today usually have the presence of mind to at least warn people that the trick is destructive upfront. They say that the hard drive freezer trick should only be used as a method of last resort for getting your data back.

We, of course, disagree. We don’t think it should be used at all. It’s a bad idea and the consequences range from “nothing actually changes as a result” (thankfully) at best to “your hard drive’s condition is dramatically worsened” at worst. Nobody should be putting their hard drive into Ziploc bags and shoving it into a freezer when it starts to click or beep–especially when it starts to click or beep because at that point, the best and only hope for your data is a professional data recovery company.

If your lost data is important to you, your method of last resort should be a professional data recovery company, not your icebox

We have the tools and skills to solve just about any kind of hard drive failure. Our engineers have seen just about every model of hard drive. We’ve got over a hundred thousand successful data recovery cases and counting under our collective belts from all manner of failed data storage devices. Gillware’s data recovery lab offers secure, professional, and world-class services with free inbound shipping, free in-lab evaluations, and a financially risk-free “No Data, No Charge” guarantee.

If your data isn’t important to you, then by all means, stick your failed hard drive in the freezer (not for data recovery, of course—just for fun). Freeze it in a block of ice if you want. Or you can turn it into a clock, or use it as a doorstop or a paperweight. There are plenty of weird and wonderful things you can do with a broken hard drive.

Solution 2. Fix Bad Sectors on a Frozen External Hard Drive

Windows Command Prompt knowledge is required for this fix.

Step 1. Press Windows + X and choose Command Prompt (Admin).

Step 2. In the black window, type the command starting with [drive letter:] + chkdsk /[f/r]. To be specific, let’s assume that the demanded drive letter is E. So, you need to input the command line as follows.

chkdsk /f E: (this is for finding and repairing errors on drive E) chkdsk /r E:(this is for locating bad sectors and recovering readable information)

Step 3. Press Enter. Wait for the command to take effect.

Running chkdsk can hopefully fix the bad sectors, however, it can also result in total data loss. So, perform data recovery in advance, and then continue with the CMD method.

EaseUS CleanGenius is a user-friendly computer fixing tool that is both safe and lightweight. It’s a perfect alternative to CHKDSK command. Use this one-click tool to fix the damaged file system easily.

Step 1. DOWNLOAD EaseUS CleanGenius on your computer and complete the installation.

  Free Download

Step 2. Run the software. Click “Optimization”, and then choose “File Showing” . 

Step 3. Select the drive with a corrupted file sys

Step 3. Select the drive with a corrupted file system. Tick the “Check and fix file system error” option and click “Execute”.

Step 4. Wait the tool performs the repairing task.

Step 4. Wait the tool performs the repairing task. After that, click the “here” button to check the drive.

How to Recover Data from External Hard Drive Freezes Computer when Plugged in

Preparation: Create a Boot Disk

Since the computer can run normally when the external hard drive is removed from it, you can create a boot disk on your computer directly.

Step 1: After installing and registering the software on the computer, you need to connect a USB disk or CD/DVD to your computer (in this post, we will use a USB disk as the destination disk). Then, you can open the software to enter the software interface.

On the left bottom of the interface, you can see a Bootable Media button on the top menu. You need to click on it to continue.

Step 2: This software will pop out a small window as follows. You need to click on the WinPE-based media with MiniTool plug-in option.

Step 3: Another window will appear. The connected USB flash disk will be detected and shown by this software. You need to click on it and a window generates.

The message on the pop-out window will inform you that “The data on the USB disk will be destroyed.” So, you need to make sure that there are no important files on it. Then, you can click on the Yes button to start the building process.

Step 4: When the building process is finished, you will see the following messages. Please click on Finish button to quit this interface.

Now, the MiniTool Power Data Recovery Boot Disk is prepared.

Then, it’s time for you to use this boot disk to recover data from the external hard drive.

Data Recovery: Use MiniTool to Recover Data from External Hard Drive

Step 1: Just shut down your computer, and then connect the external hard drive to your pc. Next, you need to set your computer to access BIOS. After that, you need to set your computer to boot from the boot disk. Then, you need to press F10 button to save this setting and exit this interface.

Step 2: Your computer will enter the following interface, and then launch MiniTool Power Data Recovery automatically.  

Step 3: You will see the software interface.

All connected hard drives including internal hard drives and external hard drives will be displayed on this interface. The drive letters under WinPE and the drive letters under Windows Explorer may be different. So, you need to identify the target partition you want to recover by its capacity.

Hover over the drive you want to recover data from and click on the Scan button to start the scanning process.

Step 4: This software will take some minutes to finish the scanning process. After that, you will enter the scan result interface. And both deleted and existing files are shown on this interface.

On this interface, the scanned files are classified by the path. You can unfold each path to find the files you want to recover.

You can also click on Type tab to make this software show you the files in type. It can help you to find the target files quickly.

Of course, if you know the name of the file you want to recover, you can click on Find feature and enter its name to locate it directly.

Filter function allows you to make an advanced filter of the scanned files by the Filename/Extension, Size, Date, and more.

Step 5: After checking the files you want to recover, you need to click on Save button. Then, this software will pop out a window. You can choose a proper path on the computer to save these selected files.

After the recovery process, you can remove the external hard drive from your computer, and then open the PC to use the recovered files directly.

My WD passport freezes my computer. Then, I use MiniTool Power Data Recovery Boot Disk to rescue its files easily. Share it with you.Click to tweet

If you are interested in the rest three recovery modules, you can learn them from the Data Recovery Help on the MiniTool official site.

Quicker way to copy files from/to external hard drives

As you see, to fix the issue that external hard drive freezes when copying files, you should use copy/paste or cut/paste to transfer files, which would be very troublesome for transferring a large number of files. What’s more, enabling/disabling write caching each time you want to copy files from/to external hard drives is also annoying. Is there a more efficient way to transfer data without worrying about frozen hard drives?

AOMEI Backupper Standard, the best file sync software for free, can help you with quick data transfer between two locations.

✦ You are allowed to copy files between your computer and an external hard drive. You can also sync two external drives, USB flash drives, or SD cards, etc.  ✦ If you are using a cloud service like OneDrive and Google Drive, you are able to sync local folders to cloud and vice versa. ✦ All Windows PC operating systems like Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP are supported.

Learn how to copy files from the computer to an external hard drive via AOMEI Backupper’s Sync feature below. 

1. Connect the external hard drive to the computer and make sure it is detected. Download, install and launch AOMEI Backupper.

Secure Download

2. Click “Sync” and select “Basic Sync”.

3. Name the task so that you can distinguish it from other sync tasks. Click “Add Folder” to select the folder you want to copy.

Tips: To sync more than one folder, you can click the “+” button after adding the first folder.

4. Click the folder shaped button in the second column to select the external hard drive as the destination path.

5. Click on “Start Sync” button to perform the operation. After the operation is finished, safely disconnect your drive.

>> Options: you can write a comment for your sync task so that you can figure out the specific sync contents. You can also enable email notification here. >> Schedule: you can set the sync task to run periodically. There are five modes provided: Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Event triggers, and USB plug in. Please upgrade to AOMEI Backupper Professional to enjoy the last two modes.

Why Do People Still Suggest Freezing Your Hard Drive?

The reason why this is still propagated is because it’s an extremely old and outdated technique and many computer repair professionals think it is still relevant.  Years ago (prior to the late 90’s), you could actually take a hard drive that was clicking or not spinning up properly and throw it into the freezer.  There was hit or miss luck with this, because in situations where the spindle bearing was seizing, the cold temperature would contract the metal and allow the bearing to free up enough for the drive to spin again.

You might also have had situations where a drive was clicking because the track alignment was off slightly, and the cold may theoretically change the dimensions of certain components in the drive just enough to allow the tracks to be read.  Again, even back then, there was only hit or miss success.

I know for a fact that this post will have people screaming the praises of how effective it is to put your hard drive in the freezer to recover the data. I also know that many people seem to think companies like ours only condemn this method, because we would rather you spend money to get your data back.  This has nothing to do with our business at all.  This is simply a plea for those that have data that is irreplaceable to avoid using this tactic, regardless of whether they send their drive to us or not.  That cannot be stressed enough here.  We want you to get your data back if it’s something you desperately need, and we take that very seriously.


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