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Water Damaged Drive? Don't Do These Things

If you live in an area that’s a flood risk, you might be concerned about how your drives are going to hold up against water. Unless they are certified against water damage – and remember, being waterproof is different to being water resistance – then you need to be extremely careful. Your data could be damaged, but there are some things you should do to try and minimise that. Or, in this case, things that you shouldn’t do. Read on for some top tips.

Firstly, don’t automatically assume that your data is unrecoverable. You might get lucky and all the data might have survived. Alternatively, only some of it might be damaged. It’s not an all or everything situation. Stay calm because things might not be terrible.

If your drive has visible damage then don’t attempt to use it. You risk causing further damage to the device and could completely destroy your data. In fact, if possible, you should disconnect the entire drive before power is restored. A brief surge of power to the drive as power is restored can be problematic. For safety’s sake, remove the plug and don’t put it back in.

Once you’ve disconnected the drive, don’t try to dry it out. You might read people suggesting that you get a hairdryer on your drive or some other heat source. That’s only going to damage the drive components, so don’t do that. But you also shouldn’t use any other methods. In fact, as the drive begins to dry it can start to cause corrosion.

The same goes for the reverse. Heat doesn’t work, but nor does the cold. Don’t put your drive into the freezer. That’s a recipe for disaster normally, let alone when you add in the fact that your drive is damp anyway. Keeping the drive in its natural state can aid with recovery.

On that note, don’t try to dissemble the drive thinking you’ll be able to repair it. That’s especially true of hard disk drives, which have extremely sensitive platters that can be damaged by specs of dust, let alone water. If you open that up in a standard room, rather than a professional certified clean room, you’re just asking for trouble. Don’t shake the drive, remove panels or screws, or mishandle it in any way.

Some might doubt the advice above. If you want to try drying the drive out and powering it up, that’s your own risk. However, it’s a dangerous game to play. If your drive has suffered internal water damage, your data is at risk for even greater damage by doing that. The best advice would be to contact a local data recovery specialist. They will have industry tools to analyse your drive and determine whether repair is possible or if recovery is necessary.

Of course, if your data is already backed up elsewhere then you may just be better off getting rid of the water damaged drive. New storage media doesn’t cost too much anymore, and continues to fall, and you’ll be better off knowing that you have a fully functioning drive that hasn’t been exposed to the elements.


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