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VIDEO QUICKTIP: How to Prepare Your Hard Drive for Restoration

After the recent string of damaging hurricanes that hit Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean, many businesses may be left with damaged computers, printers, and servers. All of the equipment above can be replaced — what can’t be replaced, however, is your company’s critical data.

The safest way to protect your business data in the face of a natural disaster is through remote, redundant backup. The vast majority of business backups are done on-site — often on drives located directly next to the computers they’re backing up. But if a flood affects your office, those backups can be destroyed. CMIT’s Guardian solution houses your critical business information in dedicated locations that are safe, secure, and often located far away from the natural disaster you might be facing.

If you do have hard drives that were damaged by rising floods, record rainfall, or any other water, don’t despair — there’s a chance your business information could be recovered. It is imperative, however, to act carefully with a water-damaged device. Many ideas that might seem like common sense can have disastrous consequences. Follow the steps below in our latest installment of our Video QuickTip, and if you are unsure, proceed only after consulting a trusted IT provider.

What’s Needed:
• Sponge
• H20
• Sealable plastic bag
• Gloves
• Wet hard drive

The Steps:
1. Carefully inspect the drive. Don’t attempt to dry the water-damaged drive or wipe away excess debris, even if it’s your first instinct. This could decrease the chances of data recovery or cause more damage to the internal components of the device.
2. Don’t power the device on. If there is water on any of the electrical components or internals of a drive, you can ruin your chances of recovery forever.
3. Put on gloves — the water your drive was damaged in could be contaminated. Wet the sponge, then place it and the hard drive in a plastic bag to help it retain moisture from water submersion. As the moisture levels decrease, corrosion levels and damages increase (think dried salt crust from ocean water). DO NOT DRY THE HARD DRIVE!
4. Make sure to remove as much air from the bag as you can before sealing it so that there is less oxygen to react with the hard drive.
5. Deliver the drive to your trusted IT provider or data recovery team. Time is of the essence here, particularly if your drive has been exposed to saltwater, which is far more corrosive than freshwater.

Now that you know what to do, a few tips on what NOT to do:

• Do not open your water-damaged hard drive. No matter how curious you are, doing so will probably not end well. Your hard drive’s external casing could be the last line of defense against outside contamination. Only a data recovery professional should dismantle your drive.
• Do not attempt to clean your drive with household cleaning products. It should go without saying that such an attempt could cause significant damage and prevent any chance of data recovery.
• Do not try to power on the drive. Plugging in a water-damaged hard drive could cause further damage. And if there is still moisture in the circuit board, you could cause a short-circuit, damaging other equipment as well.
• Do not let the drive s for too long. Time is not on your side in instances of water-damaged drives. Data recovery engineers would rather receive a damp hard drive overnighted than a dry hard drive a day or two after the incident. The longer water damage sit, the more your business is at risk for complete data loss.
• Do not try to use software data recovery. For starters, you should not be plugging in your hard drive in the first place. Secondly, these tools are only good for addressing logical data loss. They have little to no fault tolerance if your drive has a mechanical issue.
• Do not bury it in rice. This technique is often used for phones, which are far more water resistant than hard drives and can survive damage more readily. Allowing your hard drive to sit while you try to suck the moisture out of it is very counterproductive to data recovery efforts.

At the end of the day, nothing beats reliable, remote, and redundant data backup. But if you have a water-damaged hard drive, CMIT Solutions can help. If you have a device on the fritz or are concerned about the impact of a natural disaster on your business, contact us today. We know how devastating a disaster can be — and we’re here to make sure even the worst data catastrophe won’t knock your business down for the count.

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