Laptop Water Damage – What’s At Risk?
A glass of water, juice, tea or anything else can wreak havoc on your computer’s keyboard. It can seep through the keyboard and get on the motherboard as well, and perhaps even get on the RAM or CPU. The liquid can cause electrical shorts or corrosion on the electronics, resulting in failure. Every model of laptop has its guts arranged a little differently, but all the same, only specially-constructed laptops are designed to resist failure due to water or liquid damage.
Surprisingly, when you spill water or any other liquid on your laptop, though your hard disk drive is the least at-risk part of the computer. Hard drives are usually tucked away enough that some other component might bear the brunt of the damage and spare the drive. In addition, while hard drives’ internals are exceptionally vulnerable to liquid damage, water has a hard time getting into hard drives in the first place.
With the exception of high-end helium-filled drives, hard drives aren’t hermetically sealed. Most drives need the air pressure inside and outside the drive to be equal. However, hard drives have filters protecting their breathing holes. Water or other liquids can usually only get into the drive with a great deal of force. This is why we usually only see internal water damage in cases of flooding—it usually takes a lot of water pressure to force liquid into the inside of a hard drive.
There is one part of the hard drive on the outside, though, that is vulnerable to liquid damage. Liquid on the hard drive’s printed control board (PCB) can cause an electrical short and stop the drive from spinning up. This is what happened to the client in this data recovery case study.