Hard Disk Replacement & Hard Disk Repair:

Probably the most common repair we perform on laptops is to replace a failing hard drive with a new one, and set up Windows or another operating system from scratch.

At CDS, we handle a large number of liquid damaged hard drives each year. We would like to give you an in-sight into what is involved in recovering data from such devices.

Most drives that we see have failed due to accidental spillage onto a laptop of liquids such as:

  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Water
  • Other drinks

Depending on the time of the year and mother nature, we see flooded drives that have been submersed in river or sea water for prolonged periods.
We also handle drives that have suffered fire damage and subsequent water damage from fire-fighting efforts.

In the vast majority of cases, the only significant damage is to the Circuit Board (PCB) on the drive. Specific components can fail and/or corrode.

The first stage in recovering these drives is the decontamination of the drive. We remove the PCB and clean it in an ultrasonic bath with a specialized liquid formula, followed by deionized water.
Once cleaned and dried, the PCB is inspected for component damage. With modern drives, it is no longer possible to simple “swap” the board from an identical drive.
Modern drives store “adaptive” data within surface mount chips and this unique data must be transferred to a new PCB.
If this is not done, the drive will spin but it will never initialize fully and the data area will not be accessible.

This drive had suffered extreme water damage and has been badly corroded internally.
Despite our best efforts with this drive, it was not recoverable.
This drive was in a laptop that had been maliciously damaged and then thrown into a river.
The platter had been damaged prior to the water submersion.

was intact and largely unaffected. The drive was thoroughly cleaned and the platter was swapped into a new housing.
The heads and associated components were replaced and the drive was successfully recovered.

Some tips for dealing with liquid damaged hard drives:

  • Do not try to power on a liquid damaged hard drive
  • Do not try to dry the hard drive out
  • Do NOT open up your hard drive under any circumstance
  • Do NOT swap or replace any electronic components

If a liquid spillage occurs on a laptop, turn it upside down (keyboard down) or on it’s side away from the hard drive to drain the liquid away from the hard disk
Call CDS for advice immediately – a drive will begin to corrode quickly so it is imperative that it is dealt with quickly