Water is one of your computer’s worst enemies. It can cause lasting damage in very minimal quantities. Water can damage virtually every component within a computer. The hard drive is your computer’s brain. If it comes into contact with water, or any liquid, it can cause an electrical short and wipe your data clean. Over 25% of laptops purchased in the year 2014 were damaged by water. The question is, what do you do when it happens?
Restoring your data to a replacement computer or drive is significantly easier and less costly than repairing and restoring a damaged hard drive. Having a disaster plan in place if you lose your data is your first priority.
Water disasters can show up in your life in a myriad of ways, from hurricanes to fires. First responders use water to not only put out fires, they also use it to decrease dust in collapsed structures. Even a small spill from a cup or mug can cause lasting and significant damage.
If you have not invested in a backup plan, and you have no choice but to try and recover data from a water damaged hard drive, there are some important steps you must follow.
First consider if the cost is warranted by the data that is lost. If you determine that the data is important enough to recover, there might be a significant cost involved. It doesn’t matter what is lost, if it means enough to you, whether it is photos from your wedding or valuable historical documents, the choice is yours.
If you have determined that your data is valuable enough that the expense of recovery is warranted, the following guidelines will help to get you started and maximize your potential of a successful recovery.
Do not attempt to dry your hard drive using any type of drying system that employs heat. Also do not attempt to freeze or vacuum dry your hard drive. Both options can and will cause permanent damage, making your hard drive unrecoverable.
Begin by preparing your hard drive for the vendor who will do the recovery. Wipe any excess liquid from the outside of the drive. Do not wipe the inside. Wrap the hard drive in a few dry cloths or paper towels and place inside a zippered storage bag. Make sure to squeeze any excess air out.
After you have stabilized your device, you will need to contract with a professional vendor who specializes in data recovery. You can find a list within your states archives, or do a quick search online to locate someone near you. Be sure to verify that water damage is something they are qualified to handle. In the past, hard drive recovery used to be fairly expensive, but with the internet and a large number of companies competing for your business, prices have decreased.
Ideally you can find someone in your local area, as time is of the essence. The faster you are able to have a qualified individual assess your water damaged hard drive, the better. You also need to tell the vendor about what has happened to your computer, be honest, regardless if it is embarrassing or not. They need to understand what happened to adequately deal with the problem. This includes what type of liquid caused the damage. Clean water is very different from a more caustic material like coffee, tea or salt water. If you find a vendor that you like, but is located outside of your local area, they will give you the instructions on how to properly ship your device to them to be recovered.