external hrd drive + water

came home to see my table covered with water from a freak leak in the apt above, my laptop and external hdd sitting in about 1/8 -1/4" water.

( laptop was asleep , hdd was not plugged in )

have heard people reccomend drying HDD out for 2 days , some say a week , some say keep it wet in a ziplock , others say put it in freezer .

all i know is that data recovery is a month's rent , all my grad school work is on that hd & i need it to graduate in may .

if i try the hard drive , will it fry? after which , would data recovery even be possible ?

do i send it to data recovery without even trying it ? that;s very hard to convince myself . .

ANy advice woul dbe a help..

Feb 16, 10 4:16 pm

take it apart and let it dry out.... hopefully no parts will rust from it

Feb 16, 10 5:47 pm

no disk backups? nothing on a jump drive?

Feb 16, 10 5:50 pm

what kind of external hard drive? don't most of those have some kind of rubber feet that raises the hard drive off of the table? did the water actually get into the disk drive or any of the electronics? my hunch is 1/4" of water isn't even going to touch any of the vital parts in there...i don't know...or are you thinking about the water that came down and went in the drive...??

so supposedly drying it out will do more damage because residue can remain on the head and the disk. the residue will then lead to scratches once the disk spins.

Feb 16, 10 10:38 pm
*your name

1 cup of coffee on laptop > bad laptop
3 days wait and worry and worry. 4 th. day > good laptop

Feb 16, 10 11:22 pm

I don't think that there's much YOU can do. All of the damage is on the interior of the drive, which is a very volatile environment.

Don't attempt to take it apart and dry it out. The components are extremely sensitive and you're very likely to ruin the disk.

Don't dry it out. Keeping the drive in an airtight bag helps keep the moisture in so that you can safely store it and ultimately get it to someone who can recover the data.

Don't put it in the freezer. You'll ruin the drive and lose everything on there. You should only put a hard drive in the freezer if you're experiencing hard drive failure (i.e., the drive is clicking).

You'll need to have a professional do the work. I don't imagine that you have both a clean room and the software necessary to make such a rescue. If you absolutely need the data to get your degree, I feel that this is money well spent.

Finally, be warned...when you have hard drive failure, one speaks in terms of the "percentage of data recovered", rather than whether or not the data was retrieved successfully. Sorry for the downer.

Feb 17, 10 3:10 am

what hobbesie said.

but it is possible that the interior didn;t get hit. does it leak water when you tip it or move it? if not you could try just letting it sit for a coupe of days and then try it.

as slowertrainspotter said i have known this to work in other cases.

Feb 17, 10 8:28 am

just off the phone with the data retrieval folks - they suggested i open the case ( not the inner one) to check for obvious water damage/crud corrosion , if i see it , to send it on to them , if not , give it a shot and risk frying it ... and then send it to them . ..

strlt_typ - it was just a old wd passport that lies more or less flat on the surface , not the upright kind -

hobbesie - thanks for the heads up re. % of data recovered , will try to prepare my self mentally for the worst

Feb 17, 10 9:14 am

I suspect if the drive was not powered it would be less likely to be harmed. The longer you wait to allow it to fully dry the better. Put it near a dehumifier to extract any moisture from it . Certianly if it was being powered when got wet it would short circut.

Feb 17, 10 10:31 am

the catch 22 is that i don't know yet if there's any thing wrong with it ! ..

i'm assuming that because it was partially in water for at 1-3 hours that there Must be somthing wrong with it - , but becuase i hesitate to fry it , i don't actually know..... this means i Could be sending a perfectly good or at least decent hdd to the data retrievists , and they charge me an arm and a leg for a fancy job that didn't even need to be done . . . this is like some kafakaseque sick joke

Feb 17, 10 10:51 am

Dont put it in a ziplock, that just holds the moisture in.

Feb 17, 10 8:26 pm

Zip lock? That's is the worst idea i have ever heard. What will that achieve? My suggestion is to leave it for 3 days. Try and take it apart as much as possible. But don't take the actual drive apart. Just the case and the sata usb controller chip thingy ( which you will find inside) . If possible do what Studio43 said and stick it near a dehumidifier. But don't risk switching it on until you are adamant its dry.

Feb 17, 10 10:03 pm
*your name

1 cup of coffee on laptop > bad laptop
3 days wait and worry and worry. 4 th. day > power on > good laptop

Feb 17, 10 10:12 pm
Dont put it in a ziplock, that just holds the moisture in.

Zip lock? That's is the worst idea i have ever heard. What will that achieve?

from what i read, the idea is to prevent the water from drying, leaving residue on the actual disk, which can eventually lead to scratches on the disk. supposedly, the gap between the head that reads the data and the platter is the size of a dust and any solid particle (residue) that gets in between can scratch the disk or head.

Feb 18, 10 8:25 am

if it was my drive and it's true about the residue. i'd rinse it in distilled/purified water and then do what slowertrainspotter said...

Feb 18, 10 8:29 am

I think I am too late, but you should try putting it in a bag of rice overnight. This has save a lot of my electronics.

Feb 18, 10 10:15 am

Sahar is right -- works like a charm.

Feb 19, 10 12:27 am

Rice FTW, its the best way to suck out moisture without damage.

heat/air blowing is asinine. The less you fuck with it, the easier it is to recover information. If its important-pay for the recovery. o

Feb 19, 10 12:51 am

if this has been said before I apologize--I was just skimming the comments

freezing is a trick for seized hard drives--the cold tightens things up again and sometimes allows you to get the drive running long enough to get the data off…hitting it with a hammer on the side also works just don't hit it on the top or bottom because you'll shatter the platters

Feb 19, 10 5:40 pm

So what happened in the end? Did the 3 days wait and worry and worry trick work out? Did you graduate? :'(

Jun 27, 19 5:33 am

it's been nearly ten years! OP got a job, got married, moved to Michigan and is running a small motel he bought with a loan from his in laws, while pretending to design homes as he plays minecraft every night.

Non Sequitur

It's true. How do I know this? I stayed at a holiday inn last night. That's why.


Had a similar thing happen to me during school. EHD containing a years worth of photos, school work, scanned hand drawings, drafting projects, thousands of model images etc. dropped from my desk and began clicking. I researched for hours trying to decide what to do. In the end I just took the L on the data recovery to save myself the 900$ and decided to get better with digital storage and made duplicates of my externals now. Placed my broken external drive in a drawer hoping one day for some technology advancement that will easily (and less expensivingly) be able to recover some forgotten gems from the drive. I also now store my drives in an airtight container on the floor. 

Jun 27, 19 9:25 am
Non Sequitur

I run 5 back different back-up drives with one located offsite + cloud stuff. I think my graduate work is saved on 2 additional EHD but I've not had to dig those out of storage since they were packed away over 10 years ago.

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