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Data Recovery Blog

Can Data be Recovered from a Hard Drive With Water Damage?

Dec 6, 2021

Computers and water do not play well with each other, that’s a given. But what about the individual components of your computer? Specifically, your computer’s hard drive. You know – that collection of mechanical spinning disks that hold all of your work, files and photos.

If you’ve landed on this page, the chances are you’ve got a hard drive with water damage that is suffering right now. Or perhaps there’s been an accident and you’re concerned about your data. Please don’t worry as we’re here to help!

Our data recovery technicians are extremely familiar with hard drives that have been accidentally damaged with water. So, make sure you read this page before you attempt to power your device back on.

Can we recover data from a hard drive with water damage?

Yes, in most cases we can successfully recover your data from a drive with water damage.

However, please read this article carefully as certain actions which may seem like the right thing to do at the time can actually hinder the recover process.

What to do if your hard drive has water damage

Do not attempt to power it on

This is really important. Under no circumstance should you connect this drive to any power supply. If the drive is inside a laptop, then this applies to the entire laptop.

It could be extremely dangerous to allow any current to run through waterlogged circuitry. You may caused further, unrecoverable damage to your machine.

Don’t try to dry it out

It may seem sensible to put your hard drive in a warm place, like a sunny windowsill or next to a radiator. This is actually a bad idea.

Do not use a radiator, hairdryer or attempt to speed up the drying process yourself.

Why?

Because water is more complex than simply being a liquid. It contains minerals which leave deposits, which could be more severe if you live in an area with hard water.

Salt water from the sea also contains abrasive deposits (the salt itself) which will quickly corrode hard drives and other electrical components.

If you’ve been unlucky enough to spill some other form of liquid – a fizzy drink, hot drink, fruit juice or a glass of wine – then there are other ingredients in these drinks which may cause damage. For example, sugars, dietary fibre and acids.

These liquids leave residue behind once they’ve fully dried out, if you attempt to power on your device without it being inspected for damage by a professional, you risk losing your data.

We handle wet hard drives on a regular basis, the chance of successful recovery is far greater we can clean them and dry them ourselves.

It may seem counter intuitive, but it’s true. Our engineers carefully clean the individual components of the hard drive before reading the data stored on the disks. Sometimes, drives must go through a chemical drying process which takes several days.

Can’t we use a bag of rice, it works on phones?

No, it’s ineffective on a mechanical drive and potentially going to make the situation worse. A bag of rice cannot absorb water from your hard drive in the same way as it can from your phone.

A hard drive has several moving parts, your phone does not. Your phone will have some degree of water resistance through its casing. Phones are designed to be used in places where water may be splashed on them – but splashproof and waterproof are not the same thing!

Most hard Drives are never supposed to go anywhere near water. Some external hard drives are built with rugged cases for travelling, but they’re rarely waterproof in the case of being totally submerged.

Also, a hard drive is much larger than your phone. Using the good old ‘bag of rice trick’ could also cause damage to your hard drives sensitive internal mechanisms.

Note: Some modern smart phones can be submerged in water for a short period of time, but they still contain a charging port that will eventually lose its water resitance and let water in. It’s not a good idea to test this yourself.

Do not open your hard drive (or laptop) if it has water damage

There are a lot of highly sensitive mechanical components inside your drive. Opening up a hard drive without experience can render the drive completely unreadable and destory all the data stored inside.

If your data is at risk and you don’t have a backup, don’t take matters into your own hands if that data means a lot to you. Remember, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to repair a drive or plug it into another computer like you would with a healthy drive.

A damaged hard drive needs specialist tools and equipment that most consumers won’t keep at home.

As data recovery professionals, we aim to recover any data stored on a damaged hard drive, whether it was damaged by water or any other means. The goal is not to get your drive working again, as the parts inside are often so sensitive that they cannot simply be repaired. The goal is to get your digitally stored data back without any loss.

If you’ve opened up your hard drive yourself or attempted to power it on in order to test it, there’s a big risk of further damage.

Get expert advice as soon as possible

The first thing to do with a waterlogged hard drive is to find a trusted professional.

It’s highly advised not to delay this, the sooner the hard drive is our hands, the greater the chances of success are at getting your files back you.

What to do next

In summary, here’s what to do if you’ve got a hard drive with water damage:

  1. Disconnect it from the power immediately and do not plug it back in
  2. Contact us straight away, our technicians will listen to what’s happened, discuss your options and even arrange for a courier to send your water damaged hard drive or laptop straight to us for recovery
  3. In the meantime, do not attempt to speed up its drying process by putting it near a heat source.
  4. Package up your hard drive securely so it’s ready to be sent

Working with Aaron has been amazing. He kept me informed of the process all the way through and was honest about whether the data could be extracted or whether my hard drive was too damaged to retrieve anything.

Thank you so much Aaron, your service has been impeccable.

Alexis Charkiw

Aaron was amazingly empathetic. I was distraught with the thought of losing everything but he was reassuring whilst managing my expectations very well.

The communication was brilliant. It’s great to be able to speak to a human being who genuinely cares.

I would recommend this business to anyone who needs this level of forensic support. They are brilliantly human and competent.

Shea Heer

Very impressed by the friendly and reliable service. Went above and beyond my expectations plus fantastic value for money! Would highly recommend to anyone.

Donna Clark

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