Prevention is always better than needing a rescue repair.

At The Data Rescue Center, we get hard drives suffering from unfortunate circumstances. Some falter because of software errors, others because of physical malfunctions. Time will wear down a hard drive into defragmented oblivion. But here, we’ll discuss how unforeseen circumstances can impact your hard drive. What happens when your precious hard drive gets doused in water, stays out in the sun too long, or gets jostled in a move?

The natural world presents many dangers to your hard drive. The Data Rescue Center receives many weather-damaged hard drives. We’ve performed flash drive recovery on media cards from items like cameras and phones that suffered loss from events such as flood damage. Leaving your hard drive in the sun can overheat the hard drive to fatal effects. There have been hard drives fried by power surges in electrical systems.

Poor Air Quality: Dust

The first rule of data rescue is to not open the hard drive. Opening the hard drive can expose the data platters to dust, sunlight, and other contaminants. Leave the hard drive casing sealed, and send the hard drive to a certified data recovery center as quickly as possible. But even before that, make sure you have a reliable data backup plan in place. Computer users whose livelihood depends on file accessibility must take precautions to save their data. Automated backups are the most reliable. Using an external hard drive with Data Backup software will save you the hassle and fright of hard drive failure.

Cold Weather Hard Drive Damage

Freezing Temperatures

Electronic hard drives perform worse and worse as the temperature gets colder. Fluids freeze when the atmosphere gets cold enough, and so do the lubricants inside the hard drive. This disrupts the platters from spinning at their proper speed. If it is spinning at the wrong speeds, it can corrupt the data on the hard drive. The result is a disastrous head crash: a major hard drive recovery job that requires a professional hard drive recovery service. There is a very low tolerance for a hard drive coming in from cold conditions. Any tiny contraction of materials can cause major damage.

Hard drives list an optimal operating temperature range. Modern hard drives have a low operating temperature of 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit). The majority can be safely stored in even colder temperatures. A Solid State Drive (SSD) with no moving parts has a much greater operating temperature range, as low as -55 degrees Celsius (-67 degrees Fahrenheit). You can also change the settings on your laptop so the hard drive will spin instead of shutting down. This will help keep the laptop warm and the hard drive running in extremely cold weather. If you are bringing your hard drive indoors after being in the cold weather, avoid plugging it in right away and wait for your hard drive to come back to room temperature. Otherwise, you run a big risk of having a major data recovery problem on your hands.

Burning Hot Temperatures

Hard drives have a maximum temperature of around 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit). Above that, electrical components will start to break down. The hard drive’s actuator will have trouble reading and writing across the disk. In some cases, a high temperature will affect a drive’s controller board. Never try to boot up your hard drive when it’s hot to the touch. Some hard drives will power off when overheating. Then it’s ok to access and read your data afterwards. Make sure that your computer has adequate ventilation, and don’t leave your laptop or hard drive in direct sunlight.

Water Damage

The Data Rescue Center handles many hard drives damaged by water. The basic rule of thumb is that water and electronic components don’t mix. It’s very important for you to know that a hard drive corrupted by water is time-sensitive. This means that the longer the hard drive is exposed, the worse the drive condition becomes. It also very important that you do not attempt to dry the hard drive yourself (unless you are a licensed professional in a clean room facility). Exposure to elements and dust corrodes the hard drive disk. This makes the hard drive recovery process more challenging. The correct thing to do is wrap the unopened hard drive in a paper towel, place it in a sealed bag, and send it to a Data Recovery Center. The Data Rescue Center is equipped with the proper tools to evaluate and save the data on your drive, and they offer cost effective ways to get your data back.

Power Outage Data Loss

Electrical Issues

Be careful with the electrical system behind your computer and hard drive. While one power surge might not impact your hard drives, computers rely on electricity to run. When a sudden decrease of electricity happens, this can cause negative chain reactions in the operating system, particularly during installation and booting. This may make your data inaccessible.

Sudden voltage changes can damage physical components of your computer. Parts in your computer are very sensitive to voltage and magnetic changes. This makes surge protectors important. Install a combination battery-backup (UPS) and surge suppression system. The surge suppression will prevent damage from power surges and the UPS will guard against data loss and damage during power failures.

Note: It is a disproven myth is that household magnets can wipe your hard drive clean. Only the very strongest magnetic fields can wipe hard drives clean. The read/write heads on the hard drive actually contain two powerful magnets.

Here are a few tips to help secure your data on a daily basis:

  • Keep your computer plugged in, this keeps the power source consistent.
  • Always know how much battery you have before your computer dies. A computer that dies from lack of power harms the hard drive.
  • Always use auto save features.

Travelling Hazards

Many things can happen to your laptop when you are traveling from place to place. It is important to think about these things in any place you live and work. College students store essays and projects on their computer. Business professionals store important documents on their computer. It would be a shame to lose them if something happened to your computer. Laptops are not the heavy duty tanks we think they are. Remember to always be careful with your laptop. Buy a sturdy case and keep your computer in it while moving from place to place. The second thing to watch out for is hard drive security. Here are some tips for keeping your laptop physically safe:

  • Be careful of laptop theft.
  • Never leave your laptop in an unlocked car.
  • Change your computer’s password occasionally.
  • Make sure to not write down your computer’s password nearby.
  • Be careful in places of transit such as airports, bus stations, and hotels.

The other part is online, internet security. You can check out data loss prevention and protection blogs we’ve written for additional info to protect yourself from online threats. But here are some tips for protecting your hard drive from online sources:

  • Make sure to keep your network encrypted.
  • Don’t download mysterious files.
  • Have an active anti-virus protection system.

The best defense against hard drive failure is, again, backing up your important files to an external source. This can be a cloud storage system, an external hard drive, or various media devices such as CDs and USB drives.

Hard Drive Recovery

There are many factors that affect hard drive recovery, but you can take steps to ensure a more successful one. For example, implementing a good backup routine is vital for both small- and mid-sized business owners and students. Remember that backup location is just as important as frequency. I keep multiple backups in several locations. I also keep my desktop computer and my laptop synchronized by storing identical files on both.

It is always a good idea, especially for businesses, to have a data recovery service in place. Keep one of The Data Rescue Center’s Red Box kits handy so that you can ship a damaged drive to us immediately. With a two-day guaranteed delivery included in the package, we will quickly let you know if recovery is possible, and provide you with a free diagnostic report and quote.