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A week ago I stupidly split a small quantity of milk on my laptop's keyboard.

I followed common sense and now the laptop works... except the hard disk.
Booting a Live-CD works, but the hard disk is not shown.
Even if I plug the hard-disk into a hard-disk-to-USB device, it won't start spinning.

Could milk enter the hard disk, while leaving the rest of the laptop intact?
Would you suggest hiring a professional to get back the content of the disk (a few months' pictures, not the end of the world) ?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

There is no chance of milk getting into the disk itself. I'm not sure what the electrostatic properties of milk are but there might be a small chance of of a short occurring and perhaps frying some element of the disk (via data or power connectors), or possibly via the on-disk chipset if you have on that is exposed..

It's unusual that you can't get the disk to spin. Disks tend to keep spinning long after the become faulty for other reason.

It could be a coincidence, simply that it failed at the same time as the accident, or perhaps in your eagerness to clean the mess, the drive received a fatal jolt.

Check all the contacts and jumpers - make sure they are clean. Did the disk get well-covered? It should be apparent how expose it was...

As for recovery, there is a possibility that a professional disk recovery service will be able to help, but they are very expensive. You can do worse than enquire directly to them (e.g. On-Track)

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Milk could not enter the HD but it could touch any component outside or near it. The disk surface is safe.

It might also be that you didn't install your HD driver. This is especially true for Windows XP and RAID HD which require you pressing F6 at the beginning of the install. Similar is true for other OS.

If everything fails, you can try putting everything in water, waiting at least a week, and try again. HA HA. More a joke. Try opening your laptop first. ;)

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Using Ubuntu, which usually recognizes most disks. Not a RAID HD as far as I know. – Nicolas Raoul Sep 22 '10 at 13:32
Putting the hard disk in water may not be such a bad idea (especially as a last resort - it won't break it any worse). Something could have got gummed up/blocked/bridged with a solute - putting it in water (ideally de-ionised water) could clean that out. Make sure the hard drive is thoroughly dried out before you attempt to use it again and only do this if other less invasive procedures fail, though. – Scott Sep 22 '10 at 13:41
@Scott, it is highly unlikely that milk has gotten in the hard drive... It hasn't been soaked in a milk bath... – BloodPhilia Sep 23 '10 at 7:20
Soaking computer components in plain tap water is not advisable. Use demineralized/deionized water to wash your hardware components in. It can be found in nearly any auto shop since it's used to refill your car's batteries. – BloodPhilia Sep 23 '10 at 7:22
I accept that it's unlikely, however as a last resort it worth a try - it won't make the hard drive any less useful than it is at the moment. – Scott Sep 23 '10 at 12:24

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