Tips for Recovering Data from Water-Damaged Devices

Organizations often face the task of trying to recover data from water-soaked hard disks or servers that have been flooded by hurricanes, bad weather, or even the sprinklers going off in the branch or building.

Rule one -- don't assume that data isn't recoverable, no matter what it has been through, says Jim Reinert, Vice President of Data Recovery Software and Services for Kroll Ontrack. He offers more tips to assist in the recovery of water-damaged media:

Send the media to a professional data recovery facility as soon as possible.
Do not shake the media or, in the case of hard disk drives, remove the cover of the assembly.
Do not attempt to dry water-damaged media by opening it or exposing it to heat.
Do not attempt to freeze-dry media.
Do not attempt to operate visibly damaged media. Caution: Waiting for the media to dry out and then operating it on your own is the worst thing you could do.
Do not attempt to clean the media yourself without using proper solutions applied in a clean room environment. Contaminated media require immediate and thorough cleaning.
Do not attempt to recover data with commonly available software utility programs.
Hard drives flooded in salt water require special treatment. Because data can be damaged quicker due to salt oxidizing on the media, the drive should be express-shipped in an airtight container to a professional data recovery facility. To reduce the risk of further damage, drives can be "bathed" in distilled or fresh water, although they should not be agitated.

About the Author

Linda McGlasson

Linda McGlasson

Managing Editor

Linda McGlasson is a seasoned writer and editor with 20 years of experience in writing for corporations, business publications and newspapers. She has worked in the Financial Services industry for more than 12 years. Most recently Linda headed information security awareness and training and the Computer Incident Response Team for Securities Industry Automation Corporation (SIAC), a subsidiary of the NYSE Group (NYX). As part of her role she developed infosec policy, developed new awareness testing and led the company's incident response team. In the last two years she's been involved with the Financial Services Information Sharing Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), editing its quarterly member newsletter and identifying speakers for member meetings.

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