Data Recovery from a Water-Damaged Hard Drive

Generally, if your home or business is flooded, you’ll throw a lot of your possessions away. But what about your hard drive, full of important files? If you want to get your data back, here a few tips about what to do with a water-damaged hard drive.

You should immediately take your water-damaged hard drive to a company that specialises in hard disk recovery – don’t attempt to recover any data at home yourself. There's no pretending that data recovery from a water-damaged hard drive is easy - it definitely isn't - but it's not a case of simply running some software. Make sure you take the drive to a data recovery lab with a Class 100 clean room as quickly as possible, as the longer you leave it, the less chance there will be of a successful recovery. It will need to be packaged in a moisture-free environment – a plastic sandwich bag will do. You should try and remove as much air as possible, as oxygen in with the drive can cause corrosion of the magnetic platters.

What you absolutely shouldn’t do if you have a water-damaged hard drive, however, is open it. Hard drives aren’t designed to be opened, even in normal circumstances, and all of our hard disk recovery is done in our Class 100 clean room. The faceplate on your hard drive could well be the only thing protecting the platters and saving your data. You also shouldn’t attempt to clean the drive with any more water – even if there’s dirt on the drive, you could still make matters worse. Don’t use a radiator or hair dryer to attempt to dry the drive out in the hope that it will magically work again – that won’t work. In fact, heat can be incredibly damaging to the data stored on your hard drive. Time isn’t on your side – get it to a hard disk recovery facility as soon as you can.

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be plugging a soaked electronic device into a power supply in the first place, but don’t attempt to power up a soaked-hard drive. Free data recovery software is great for logical faults, but is useless for physical damage that a water-soaked hard drive will have endured; and you’ll actually jeopardise the chance of a professional hard disk recovery going well. At Data Recovery Specialists, we receive water-damaged hard drives in the hard disk recovery lab all the time, and our clean room engineers are trained on what to do when they’re faced with this scenario. Last year, our data recovery team managed to salvage 80% of a client's data from three hard drives that were damaged in a flood. This was a particularly difficult job, as it involved dirty flood water that was full of sediment.