For anyone curious about the freezer method on a laptop HDD (2.5"), I gave it a try on a Toshiba 20GB 2.5" IDE HDD that crashed.
The owner only needed to recover one Word document to save time rewriting it up again as he had everything else backed up. When they left me the laptop, I powered it up, it showed up in the list of HDDs and by once it booted into BartPE (boot CD), the drive didn’t show up. When I rebooted, the laptop showed “IDE Primary Master not present”. I took the HDD out the following morning and tried it in a USB 2.5" enclosure, connected it up to my PC. However, all that happened is that I could hear the HDD spinning up and repetitively clicking. It wasn’t detected by my PC.
So I decided to try the freezer on this one to see whether the freezer trick would work on a laptop HDD. I put the 2.5" HDD enclosure with the hard disk in the freezer overnight, took it out and connected it to my PC. It spun up, Windows went through the “Found New Hardware” bit and the drive showed up in My Computer. I went into the drive, then into the user’s profile and “My Documents” and copied out two files with the filename they told me successfully. Literally seconds after the files were copied, the HDD started clicking again and the window froze. A moment later, Windows said that the drive is no longer present and the Window disappeared. In total the drive worked for about 1 minute.
I’m sure if I tried operating the hard disk in the freezer, e.g. with a laptop and the USB cable trailing into the freezer with the HDD inside, the hard disk would have run longer. But it goes to show that this method may work in recovering vital documents on a laptop HDD that otherwise would require the hard disk to be sent off to a recovery lab.