Recovering Data from a Water-Damaged Mac

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Written By Michael Gilmer

A certified data recovery specialist, this guide aims to provide you with expert advice on MAC data recovery.

Water damage is a common issue that can occur on any device, including MacBooks. It can be caused by various reasons, such as liquid spill, flooding, and excess humidity. It is important to understand that water damage can have severe consequences such as damage to the internal components of the Mac, permanent data loss, and even render it useless. Therefore, it is crucial to know how to prevent water damage and, if it happens, the proper steps to take to recover data. In this article, we will discuss the definition of water damage, its common causes, and preventative measures to protect your MacBook.

Data Recovery from Water-Damaged Macs

Recovering data from a water-damaged Mac can be a challenging process. First, the computer should be immediately shut down and disconnected from all power sources. Disassembly of the Mac is necessary to access internal components such as the logic board and storage device. Cleaning and drying the components using cotton swabs, towels, and air drying methods will prevent further damage. Once the computer is fully cleaned and dried, necessary repairs should be made before beginning the recovery process.

The data recovery process includes using professional data recovery software and tools such as Disk Drill, iBoysoft Data Recovery, and Stellar Data Recovery. These tools can help recover recoverable files from the storage device. If the storage device is severely damaged, professional data recovery services can be consulted. The recovery success rate varies depending on the extent of the damage, but the use of a backup file or external storage device can increase the likelihood of successful recoveries. Proper precautions should be taken to prevent future damage, such as using thunderbolt cables and power cords, and protecting the computer from liquid spills. Overall, recovering data from a water-damaged Mac requires careful disassembly, cleaning and drying, repairs, and the use of reliable data recovery tools.

Causes of Water Damage

Water damage is a common problem for laptop users, and Mac users are no exceptions. A lot of things can cause water damage to your Mac, but common causes include spills, accidental drops in water, floods, and unexpected rain. It takes only a few seconds for water to cause damage to your Mac, and the effects can be severe. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the causes, consequences, and solutions to Mac water damage.


Spills are one of the primary culprits of water damage to Macs. There are different types of spills, including liquid sprays, minor splashes, and extensive liquid pooling. Each spill can cause varying levels of water damage to Macs, depending on several factors. The severity of damage depends on the type of liquid, amount of liquid, and the location of the spill.

For instance, spilling small volumes of water on the keyboard usually causes minimal damage to the keys but could harm the logic board underneath. On the other hand, spilling larger volumes of liquid onto the computer’s back or side may cause substantial damage to the computer’s external ports and the logic board.

If a spill occurs, it is vital to act quickly to minimize damage and increase the chances of data recovery. Unplug the device, turn it off, and wipe off excess water. Turn the Mac upside down and let it dry for at least 24 hours to reduce moisture. Furthermore, take your Mac to a professional data recovery service to assess the severity of the damage and recover any lost data.

In conclusion, spills can cause significant damage to a Mac, but by taking quick action, the severity of damage can be minimized, and the data can be recovered.

Submersion in Liquid

Submerging a Mac in liquid can cause significant damage, including potential loss of data. However, there are ways to recover data from a water-damaged Mac that has been completely submerged.

The first step is to remove the Mac from the liquid and switch it off immediately to minimize further damage. Wipe off any excess liquid and do not attempt to turn the device on until it has been properly dried.

Proper drying techniques involve placing the Mac upside down and allowing it to air dry for at least 48 hours. It is essential that the Mac is not turned on or charged until it has been completely dried to avoid further damage to the components.

Before attempting to recover the data, it is crucial to check for signs of corrosion or physical damage on all components, including the logic board, hard drive, and internal memory. Any components with corrosion or physical damage should be replaced before attempting data recovery.

In conclusion, submersion in liquid can be a devastating experience for a Mac user. Still, with proper steps taken in the recovery process, data loss can be minimized. It is important to act quickly, dry the device properly, and check for signs of corrosion or physical damage before attempting to recover data.

Exposure to Moisture and Humidity

Exposure to moisture and humidity can cause severe damage to a Mac, leading to data loss and malfunction. Liquid spilled on the Mac can seep into its components, short-circuiting the logic board, and causing corrosion. Moisture and humidity, on the other hand, can cause corrosion on the Mac’s internal components, leading to malfunction and data loss.

If your Mac has been exposed to moisture or humidity, it is crucial to take immediate action to prevent further damage and data loss. First, switch off your device and disconnect any power cords, cables, or other accessories. Next, remove any excess water with a cotton swab but avoid using towels or tissues, which can leave fibers and residue on the components.

After that, place the Mac upside down on a dry towel and let it air dry for at least 48 hours. Do not attempt to power on the device until it has been completely dried. Avoid using any heat sources to dry the Mac, as excessive heat can cause further damage to the components.

If the Mac remains unresponsive after air-drying, it may require a component level repair and industrial cleaning by a professional data recovery team. It is crucial to seek professional help to avoid further damage to the Mac and to increase the chances of data recovery.

Corrosion Caused by Saltwater or Chemical Agents

Water damage to a Mac can come in different forms, and the impact can vary depending on the source of the damage. Saltwater and chemical agents can have severe effects on electronic devices such as Macs. Saltwater, for example, can leave behind salt deposits that corrode electronic components, leading to their failure over time. Chemical agents can also cause corrosion and further damage to the device.

The presence of saltwater or chemical agents on a water-damaged Mac calls for immediate action. Failure to take quick action could lead to corrosion, further damage, and total loss of data. One way to prevent corrosion is to clean the device using distilled water and isopropyl alcohol.

To address corrosion, the Mac may require industrial cleaning and component repair. The cleaning process may involve the removal of the affected parts, such as the logic board, and cleaning them individually using specialized tools and chemicals designed to remove the rust and corroded areas.

If the corrosion has already damaged the components beyond repair, the components may need to be replaced to restore the Mac to its former working condition. In conclusion, saltwater and chemical agents can cause significant damage to a water-damaged Mac and require timely action to prevent corrosion.

Impact of Water Damage on Data Recovery Success Rate

Water damage can be catastrophic for electronic devices, and Macs are no exception. When a Mac comes into contact with water, it’s not just the hardware that gets damaged, but the data stored in it, too. The impact of water damage on data recovery success rate can be significant, but there are a few important factors to consider. In this article, we’ll explore how water damage affects data recovery, what factors influence the success rate of data recovery on water-damaged Macs, and some tips to help you maximize your chances of recovering your lost data.

Types of Data That Can Be Recovered from a Water-Damaged Mac

Water damage can cause severe damage to your Mac, and the fear of losing important data can be overwhelming. However, with the help of proper data recovery techniques and tools, you can recover most of your essential data from a water-damaged Mac.

Here are the types of data that can be recovered from a water-damaged Mac:

1. Photos

2. Videos

3. Documents

4. Music files

5. Emails

6. Contacts

7. Calendar entries

8. Text messages

9. Other personal and business-related data

To retrieve data from water-damaged Macs that are beyond repair, Mac Plus’s proprietary Data Transfer Device can help with MacBook Pro with Touch Bar 13″ A1706 and MacBook Pro with Touch Bar 15″ A1707 2016 to 2017 models.

For those who prefer DIY data recovery, the Disk Drill for Mac offers a preview feature that allows you to check the supported file formats and recover only the necessary files. It is also recommended to avoid saving the recovered files to the same storage device from which you’re recovering them to prevent data overwriting and damage.

In conclusion, with the right data recovery methods and tools, you can recover most of your essential data from a water-damaged Mac, preventing permanent data loss.

Chances of Successful Recovery With Professional Services

When it comes to recovering data from water-damaged Macs, the likelihood of a successful recovery can be significantly increased when using professional recovery services. Professional recovery teams have the expertise and tools needed to maximize the chances of retrieving as much data as possible from a damaged device.

Professional recovery services invest heavily in understanding the complexities of data loss. They have up-to-date knowledge and software tools to recover data effectively, and they possess the necessary skills to navigate the challenges of water-damaged Macs. They also use specialized hardware and software to read data from damaged drives, recover data from bad sectors, and repair corrupted files.

When looking for professional recovery services, consider the level of expertise, a Class 100 cleanroom, the estimation process, and a “no data-no charge” guarantee. The Class 100 cleanroom ensures a controlled environment that minimizes the risk of further damage to the device. The estimation process varies among service providers, but excellent ones provide an evaluation of the recovery process’s viability, timeline, and expected cost. Finally, the no data-no charge guarantee ensures that customers do not incur any costs unless data is successfully recovered.

In conclusion, the chances of successful recovery with professional services greatly depend on a team’s level of expertise, use of specialized tools, and adherence to the highest standards in data recovery, such as a Class 100 cleanroom. It is worth considering professional recovery services when looking to retrieve data from water-damaged Macs.

Recovering Data from a Water-Damaged Mac: Step-by-Step Guide

Water damage is one of the most common and frustrating experiences for Mac users. Even a small spill can cause significant damage, leading to data loss. However, all is not lost as there are specific steps you can take to recover your data. This step-by-step guide will take you through the process of recovering data from a water-damaged Mac, from initial diagnosis to data retrieval. By following these steps, you can minimize the risk of further damage and increase your chances of recovering your valuable files.

Step 1: Power Off the Mac Immediately and Dry It Out Thoroughly

If you have accidentally spilled water or any other liquid on your Mac, the first step towards recovering your data is to immediately power it off. This will prevent any further damage caused by the electrical current flowing through the device. In case you’re unsure of how to turn off your Mac, press and hold the power button until it shuts down.

After powering off, the next step is to remove any power source connected to your Mac, including power cords or a thunderbolt cable. This will ensure that no electrical current flows through the device, which may cause additional damage.

The next step is to dry the MacBook thoroughly. Start by placing it on a clean towel and use cotton swabs to absorb any excess water around the keyboard area and other ports. Avoid using a hairdryer or other heat sources as they may cause further damage.

Finally, let the MacBook air dry for at least 48 hours before attempting to power it back on. Place it in a flat and dry area, away from direct sunlight or heat sources. This will help to prevent any further liquid damage.

Once the MacBook has thoroughly dried out, it’s time to attempt data recovery. There are several recovery options available, including professional data recovery services, third-party data recovery software, or even using startup options such as recovery mode or bootable drives.

Disconnect the Power Source, Remove Batteries and Take off Case Covers if Possible

If your MacBook has suffered water damage, it is important to take immediate action to remove the power source and prevent any further damage. The first step is to disconnect the power source by unplugging the charger from the wall and removing it from the MacBook.

Next, try to remove the battery if it is removable. If it is not, you will need to use the appropriate screwdriver to open the back panel and remove it. Be careful when doing this, as the logic boards and internal components can be fragile.

If possible, take off any case covers to allow for better air circulation and to assess the extent of the water damage. This will also allow you to dry any remaining moisture inside the MacBook.

Finally, unplug any peripherals still attached, such as external drives, mobile devices, or a thunderbolt cable. This will ensure that no electrical power flows through the device, which may cause additional damage.

Remember to take caution when disconnecting the power source and removing the battery or case covers. If you are unsure or feel uncomfortable doing any of these steps, it is always recommended to seek professional data recovery services to avoid further damaging your water-damaged MacBook.

Allow the Device to Air Dry for 24 Hours or Longer

Water damage to a MacBook can be a challenging situation, but there are steps you can take to try to salvage your device. Once you have removed the battery and unplugged any peripherals, the next step is to air dry the device.

To start, select a cool, well-ventilated room where you can lay the MacBook on a desk or table with the screenside down, open to 90 degrees. This position will allow any remaining moisture inside the device to evaporate more easily. It is important to keep the MacBook screenside down to prevent water from dripping onto the logic boards.

Next, use a fan to facilitate the drying process. Set the fan to low and position it so that it blows air across the device. Make sure the fan is not too close to the MacBook, as this could cause the moisture to be blown around inside the device, potentially causing more damage.

Allow the MacBook to air dry for at least 24 hours or longer, depending on the extent of the water damage. Do not attempt to power on the device until it is completely dry to avoid further damage.

Once the MacBook has been air dried for the appropriate amount of time, there may still be moisture in hard-to-reach areas. If you are unsure if your MacBook is completely dry, consider seeking professional water damage recovery services or using a third-party data recovery software, such as Disk Drill or iBoysoft Data Recovery, to recover any data from the device.

Check for Visible Signs of Corrosion or Physical Damage

After allowing your water-damaged Mac to air dry for at least 24 hours, it’s time to examine it for visible signs of corrosion or physical damage. Corrosion occurs when metal components come in contact with water, and an oxidizing reaction takes place, causing the metal to degrade over time. Physical damage may also occur due to liquid exposure, causing components to become swollen, rusted, or discolored.

Start by checking the exterior of your Mac for any visible signs of corrosion, such as rust or discoloration. If you observe any signs of corrosion on the exterior or find the device swollen or discolored, you will likely have internal damage that requires professional data recovery services. Next, inspect internal components such as the logic board, battery, and hard drive for damage, including cracks or burn marks.

If you find physical damage or corrosion, attempting data recovery yourself could cause further damage, and it’s best to seek professional data recovery services. Professional data recovery services have specialized tools and expertise to safely retrieve data even from severely damaged devices.