Our technical staff is regularly working on hard drives, SSDs, memory cards, USB sticks and hard drives from RAID and server systems, which were significantly damaged by water in our in-house clean room laboratories.
Dependent on the type and viscosity of a liquid there are different error patterns. That doesn't require corrosive acids or bases. Even normal tap water can cause massive damage. The lime inside the water deposits over time and can lead to physical damage causing data loss.
The corrosion of the ferromagnetic hard drive surfaces within a wet hard drive is an important factor concerning the severity of the damage. The tiniest dirt particles on those sensitive surfaces are enough to damage the write/read heads, which float only between 10 and 40 nanometres above the rotating discs. If the magnetic layer is harmed it may cause serious reading damage. The result is logical damage, which implies more effort for the data rescuer.
The salts dissolved in the water reduce the electrical resistance and cause an increased conductivity of the liquids. This may lead to a short of the board and the pre-amplifier of the read/write heads and makes the data rescue more difficult.
Arbitrary actions may lead to more fatal consequential damage. We discourage you from drying your hard drive with a hair dryer, heater or oven! We recommend wrapping the hard drive up in a moist cloth to prevent it from drying and resulting corrosion. .
The main problem with water damage is that a hard drive is filled with air (there is no vacuum inside it!). A so-called helical mount leads from the inside to the outer case and provides the hard drive continuously with fresh air, which is filitered several times to keep dust particles from getting inside. Liquids can also get inside this way and cause corrosion in case of water damage.
After a water damage the defective hard drive has to be opened which should only be performed inside a clean room laboratory. Attingo has clean room laboratories of the ISO 5 category in Hamburg, Vienna and Amsterdam.
Hard drives affected by water damage have to be deep cleaned (inside and fine mechanical components) in the course of the data rescue.
With humidity damage it is important to have the right data rescue equipment to prevent even the smallest imbalance during the platter transfer. The data rescue engineers and technicians need to have fine motorical skills to be able to rescue data and files successfully.