One of the articles I added to my Terry’s Computer Tips site recently is about Data Recovery. This point really struck home after Hurricane Katrina.
While we, personally, did not have significant problems from Katrina or Rita, our neighbors have had relatives from New Orleans living with them for the past six weeks. While initial estimates were that it might take as much as 6-8 weeks to pump the flood waters from New Orleans, the task was almost completed before Rita came and attacked three weeks later.
Of course, homes and businesses lost computers that had been under water for days and weeks. Their challenge at that point is “what do we do now?”
For the home user, it is probably time to throw your hands in the air and be happy you bought flood insurance. [By the way, a loss like this – by water or fire – is one good reason to keep a manual checkbook and not use a program like Quicken as your only checkbook record – or your only set of available checks!]
Your insurance company is going to evaluate your property and will probably “total” your computer, although they may insist on you attempting to get it cleaned up and fixed — not necessarily a good idea, as this is going to be expensive to do right, and not many service companies are set up to do this type of cleaning.
Clean water is not the best solution, and even then the parts would probably require baking at low heat to remove the washwater. Companies that specialize in such cleaning use specialized solvents to clean the circuit boards. Some items, such as monitors, CD drives and DVD drives will be lost causes.
Hard drives become the interesting issue — I would have expected these hermetically sealed drives (they do not let air in or out) to have survived ok. Such does not seem to be the case. Of course, the circuit boards on the outside of IDE drives would have the typical issue of other circuit boards.
Some drives, though, have a breathing hole which I assume has some type of membrane to protect the actual drive platters and read/write head from dust. It seems that our PC hard drives, while resistant to air and dust intake at typical atmospheric pressure have a problem handling several feet of water on top of them.
For the small, medium and large businesses, though, the hard drives in the flooded computers may have irreplaceable data. Even if the business followed disaster recovery planning to make backups and keep them off-site, those same backup tapes, CDs and DVDs could have been affected by the same flood of muddy water. Recovery of the data on the accounting hard drive, the marketing/sales hard drive, the CFO’s hard drive — or any others — may be critical to survival and growth of the business.
Read my Data Recovery article for more info on solving the problem. Read it now, so it is tucked away in your mind, should you ever have the need.