Can You Recover Data from a Water Damaged Drive?

Hard drives and water do not mix well, but sometimes accidents can happen. If you want to ensure your data is protected, you need to act fast.

The first thing to note is yes, data recovery is certainly possible in the case of a water-damaged hard drive. However, in order to ensure the best possible chances of a successful data recovery, you need to act fast. There are multiple reasons a hard drive could come into contact with water, from a spillage to a flood, with different sources of liquid having different effects. If the hard drive becomes wet from a flood, then it’s likely there will be a heavy amount of sediment, and if left to dry naturally, this could damage the hard drive’s platters, rendering data recovery impossible. Sea water has the added disadvantage of containing salt, which can further damage the platters. Even tap water can contain sediment; if you live in a hard water area, limescale could build up on the platters.

This might sound like the wrong thing to do, but don’t attempt to dry the hard drive. Many people will immediately put their hard drive somewhere warm and leave it to dry, or worse, expose it to direct heat, such as sunlight or even a hairdryer. Heat can further damage the platters, reducing the chances of a successful data recovery, and even if the drive does dry out, there’s still the issue of the contaminants on the surface of the platters. It is especially important not to take apart the hard drive, as this can cause further contaminants to land on the platters. Do not attempt to power up the drive, even if you think it is fully dry – you will likely destroy the platters, along with the chance of your data ever being accessible again.

Our data recovery team have dealt with dozens of cases of hard drives that have been damaged, whether accidentally or in floods. We have the tools and facilities to ensure your data is in the best possible hands. Upon arrival into our office, your drive will be immediately sent to the data recovery lab, where any contaminants will be carefully removed by trained professionals, before being left to dry for several days in a controlled environment. From here, any damaged components such as the read/write heads or PCB can be replaced, and the data on the platters can be accessed and recovered. Do not attempt data recovery at home!

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