As with all things electrical, hard drives do not mix well with liquids. Of course, even with the best intentions in the world, accidents happen and water can, and does, damage many unfortunate people’s digital storage devices annually. While getting water into a disk drive is never good, there are certain actions you can take that will minimize the damage caused by careless spillages and such similar mishaps.
If your hard drive gets flooded with water, or some other liquid, it is vital that you respond quickly. The first thing that you must do is disconnect it from the power supply. If the hard drive is internal (laptop, for example) then make sure you unplug the AC adapter immediately and turn the machine off by pressing and holding the on/off button until it powers down.
Water and other liquids flooding a hard drive do not necessarily mean it will be destroyed permanently. Providing you can remove the electrical current from the device before the liquid causes it to short itself out, there is every chance that the drive will return to full functionality after it has been professionally dried and cleaned.
The same holds true for external hard drives too. They must be immediately disconnected from their power supply (usually a computer). The fact that these drives are usually not powered by their own AC adapter means your chances of disconnecting before irreparable damage is caused are greatly increased.
Leave It Wet
As strange as it sounds, you should never attempt to dry a water damaged hard drive out. This means no hair driers, radiators, or heaven forbid, ovens. The minerals present in almost all forms of water can be left behind when the spillage evaporates. These can interfere with the way a restoration expert can communicate with the damaged unit meaning data recovery will be much tougher, if not impossible.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, sources of heat themselves can actually damage the inner workings of the drive, also increasing the difficulty of data restoration. It is always best to leave the drive wet, and let a professional dry and clean it for you.
Do Not Open The Drive
Unless you’re an absolute expert (and let’s face it, if you’re reading this article, you’re probably not a skilled computer technician), you shouldn’t open the hard drive yourself. Airborne particles, almost invisible to the naked eye, can affect the platters of the drive, causing even greater issues with data loss. All of this just makes it even tougher for the expert who eventually has to try to restore the data for you.
Seek Professional Help
Physical (water, for example) damage to hard drives usually requires a professional touch. Unless the data on the drive is completely trivial, or totally backed up, you’d be foolish to go fiddling with the water damaged hard drive yourself. The best course of action is to wrap the drive in a paper towel and seal it in a non-static, plastic bag, and get it to a lost data recovery expert as quickly as possible. This way you will not only retrieve that all important data, but you might even save the function of the hard drive itself too.