Water damage is one of the most distressing things that can happen to a hard drive. In many cases, a lot of people will just write off the data that was in the computer as lost. But did you know that there were plenty of things that can be done to retrieve part or all of your data? Let’s look at what you should do if your hard drive has suffered water damage to preserve your data and, potentially, save the device.
Turn It Off
Connected devices that are wet will get burned or otherwise damaged to a greater degree than those that are switched off. Turn off the computer and disconnect it from the power outlet when you remove the hard drive. Know that hard drives are delicate, so be careful not to drop it. However, this is only the first step to saving your data.
Know that Time is of the Essence
The longer the device is wet, or worse yet, submerged, the greater the damage. If your device has suffered any form of water damage, get it taken care of as soon as possible. Don’t assume that you can deal with it in a few days.
However, you shouldn’t try to dry the drive yourself. Using heaters or hair dryers to dry it out will cause further damage; dryers in particular cause a charge build-up in the drive. In fact, trying to dry out the hard drive could make things even worse. Both tap water that may have flooded your home office and flood water from a storm surge carry minerals that will stick to the hard drive platters if it dries out. When that happens, data recovery is more difficult than when the platters are still wet. This means you’ll want to get the hard drive to a recovery service while it is still damp.
Don’t Try to Do It Yourself
We’ve already explained how trying to dry things out yourself often results in further damage. You shouldn’t try to open it up to dry it out or try to fix it, either. Opening a hard drive correctly requires tailored tools, expertise and proper conditions. Do this outside of a clean room, and the airborne particles in the room could damage the platters of the hard drive.
Third party software to try to salvage the data won’t work properly if you damage the drive or do not know how to run it correctly. Mistakes trying to save the data yourself could overwrite the original data and result in further damage. You could contact Secure Data Recovery for a data recovery service near you to maximize the odds you can salvage your data, if not the computer itself. Wrap the hard drive in a towel or non-static plastic bag to take it to the recovery service.
Check for Backups
See if you have stored data in USB drives, external hard drives or via the cloud. See if you have backup versions of critical files available to you. Those could be transferred to a new hard drive or an unaffected computer. This gives you breathing room if it takes time for your data to be recovered, and it gives you peace of mind if some of the data cannot be recovered.
Regardless of the reason your hard drive suffered water damage, the general steps to preventing the problem from getting worse are the same. Always seek professional advice to recover the device and the data.