How To Recover From A Water Damaged Drive

You might think it will never happen to you, but a hard drive getting damaged from water is more common than you might think. It can also happen when you least expect it – Mother Nature is unlikely to send you a memo letting you know when the next flood is due. Although your hard drive is sealed tight, it’s certainly not impenetrable and water can easily get inside and damage the sensitive components. It’s important to know what to do when your hard drive becomes water damaged because it might not be as simple, or impossible, as you expect.


As soon as your drive has come in to any contact with water then switch your computer off immediately (if it’s not already in that state) and do not turn it back on. Powering up can lead to further problems arising and can make recovering your data a harder task than it needs to be. The sensitive heads of the drive may be stuck to the platters that they usually hover above. By turning on the computer the disk will try to spin round and tear the heads off in the processes, in turn damaging your data completely.

You must then remove the drive from the case. Make sure you do this safely by grounding yourself before making contact with the drive to ensure that it receives no electric shocks. It is imperative that you do not leave the hard drive out to dry or attempt to clean it. That advice might seem unintuitive and silly, but drying out the drive will not resolve the problem and can cause further complications. Even if everything seems fine when you dry out the drive, further complications could arise down the line. What you need to do is store the hard drive in a sealed and air-tight container to keep it wet and stop any corrosion. In doing this it will allow technicians at data recovery companies to dry the platters professionally in a way that reduces damage by using specialized methods and chemicals. You should get your drive to a specialist company as quickly as possible because the longer you wait the more likely the drive is to corrode. This means that there a far greater chance of getting all your vital files back in one piece than if you were to try and fix the problem yourself. Your insurance company might cover you for the recovery cost, too.

Protecting yourself against water damage is something to be considered as a lot of damage could be caused. Of course, you should be making regular back-ups of your data to a different location (perhaps in the cloud), but even doing things like having the computer on the first floor can keep it out of a potential flood zone. This isn’t always possible, so ensure that your computer case is properly sealed to guard against minor water damage such as a spilt drink. In the scheme of things these steps are minor compared to the stress of going through data recovery.