Accident Risk # 1 : Connecting your Storage Device using the Wrong Power Adaptor
With the average office or home now awash with electronic devices, it is very easy to erroneously use the wrong power adaptor to power up your external hard drive. The average power adaptor for your 3.5” S-ATA external hard drive is 12V and 2Amps.
The problem is compounded by the rise in use of Ultrabooks (slimline laptops). These devices use very similar looking power connectors but their voltages differ (usually 17V to 19V). When a 19V adaptor is plugged into a hard drives’ 12V connector, fire and brimstone will not ensue but you do risk damaging your hard drive’s TVS diode or other components on the PCB such as the drive controller. In certain data recovery cases we have seen, the over-voltage surged through the drive and fried the pre-amplifier chip mounted on the actuator arm. Our advice: Label your drive cables or use a sticker to differentiate them for other devices.
Accident Risk # 2 :Liquid Spillage
Of all the accidents that can befall a hard drive, liquid spillage is the most insidious. Most users who have spilled wine, coffee, cola or water on their laptop will frantically start a clean-up procedure with J-clothes, paper towels and even hair dryers. If their laptop powers up successfully and they see their files again – they are ecstatic. They ascribe their luck to their assiduous clean-up procedure, forget about their “near miss” experience and move on. But this is when the real damage happens. A proper clean usually involves a good knowledge of the insidious effect of liquid on a hard drive’s PCB, some cotton buds, a ballast magnifying lamp and some isopropyl solution. This might sound like overkill for a bit of spilt coffee but when liquid deposits meet the delicate electronics on your hard drive’s PCB – oxidation occurs. A oxidised PCB usually causes the board to short and the onboard chips to fail. Worse still, liquid ingress via your hard drive’s vent hole can mean some more serious damage if the liquid seeps onto the platters – the drive platters can become a veritable skating rink for your drive heads. Our advice: Place cups, glasses and bottles a reasonable distance from your laptop. If you did spill liquid on your laptop keyboard, remove the hard drive immediately. Even if it still appears to be undamaged – get your system checked out by a competent and experienced computer technician or electronics engineer.
Accident Risk # 3 : External Drives and NAS – Accidental Trips over Power and USB cables.
Nearly twenty years ago, journalist Frances Cairncross writing for the Economist made the prescient prediction that the future of home and office technology would be completely wireless. A substantial number of homes and offices now have everything from wireless IP cameras, to wireless baby monitors to wireless internet. This includes wireless hard drives. But these are still in the minority. Most users still use wired storage devices. And herein lies the problem. Wires are a trip hazard. When a USB cable or A/C power lead gets in the way of a fast moving human foot, it can easily result in a laptop or storage device heading south. Some hard drives will come away unscathed from the impact. Other drives are not so lucky. A hard drive that is turned on i.e. fully spinning that incurs impact damage, such as a fall from a table to a floor, usually results in a seized spindle at best and at worst misalignment of the head disk assembly. In worst case scenarios, the HDA will misalign and the heads will then scour the surface of the platters. Data recovery is usually possible for the first two scenarios but not for the latter. Our advice: Position your external hard or NAS drive whereby it’s power and USB cables not trip hazards. Cable ties from any hardware store can be used to tidy up loose wires.
Accident Risk # 4 : Putting your Laptop or Tablet in your Luggage
When packing for a business trip or a holiday, it is tempting to just put your laptop into your suitcase. This can be a big mistake. Putting a laptop in a suitcase means it will go though a slalom course of potential shock hazards in the bowels of an airport. Human handlers, conveyor belts, automatic luggage handlers, airside luggage vehicles and aircraft holds are all potential areas for laptop shock damage. Our advice: Carry your laptop / tablet PC with you as hand luggage in a well padded sleeve or case. When travelling, treat your laptop in the same way you would treat a piece of antique Waterford Crystal – with extreme care. And of course, you will have it fully backed up anyway – won’t you…?
Accident Risk # 5: USB Key Drives: Flex or Shear Damage
There is an old Japanese proverb that says “it is the nail that sticks out that gets hammered”. Here at Drive Rescue, we believe “It is the USB stick that sticks out that gets damaged and will need data recovery”. The reason is simple, if you have a laptop that you move around, it is easy to forget that there is a plastic stick protruding out with a USB connector that holds a delicate NAND chip and controller inside. A protruding plastic part is a very likely candidate for any damage. For example, if your laptop falls, the first point of contact with the floor will very likely be your USB stick. This will incur significant shock damage and possibly the PCB of the device will be sheared off from it’s USB connector. Our advice: Transfer data to / from your USB memory stick and when complete, disconnect it from your PC. Do not leave it plugged into your computer for prolonged periods.
Following these tips and always having your data fully backed up can negate the need for the services of a data recovery company.