Today coffee spilled over my table, and some of it (very less) reached the PC case placed under the table. I think little bit of it got inside the PC case through the front. As that happened the fan started running very fast and made noise. I tried to restart to see if it becomes fine, but the computer didn't start again. First it gave an error of "Alert! Air temperature sensor not detected" and didn't start. Next I tried again multiple times of starting the computer but then it gave some memory error. I was not able to start the computer.

Incase there's a problem in hard disk or something related to memory, is there any way we can extract our work or data? I am scared if I am not able to extract my work in case some problem occurs like that. What options would I have? Help!!

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EDIT: I have attached the photo here and you can see the area spilt in red circle. The hard drive electronics have been affected and internal speaker may also have been affected. Any advise on cleaning and if hard drive can work?

EDIT 2: Are there any professional services offered to extract data from blemished hard disk, like this one, in case I am not able to run it personally?

  • There are special products to clean electronics, you can find them in any home depot or office depot or the like, bestbuy sure has them, or you might use isopropyl alcohol its great use a soft fabric to do it, they sell little towels filled with alcohol to clean the face, those work too but make them your last alternative. – Guillermo Siliceo Trueba Dec 21 '10 at 3:16
  • Thanks for you comment and your answer. Do you know if there are professional services offered to extract data from blemished hard disk, like this one, in case its not able to run again from my side? – user42307 Dec 21 '10 at 4:34

Based on the picture in the update, it looks like the hard drive is fried.

You can try data recovery services, but they are in the "if you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it" category. It does look like this hard drive might work if you swapped logic boards with another drive of the exact same model, however, since the logic board is what was damaged. Still, don't hold your breath -- even basic data recovery is crazy expensive, so brace yourself.

I hope you had backups, either online or offline...

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    I think he may be able to replace the HDD PCB with one from an identical hard drive (same revision). I successfully did this a few years ago. I think there is some complication where the board circuitry stores the information on bad (and therefore unused) blocks, so the data extracted may not be completely intact. – paradroid Dec 21 '10 at 6:07
  • I'm going to agree with this - I could be wrong, but I don't believe that's coffee residue. Looks like that's burned circuitry on the power connector side of the PCB. If so,the PCB is shot. Don't power on the drive again. Drive recovery services generally start at about $1K and up. The old swap the PCB may not be a good idea here since no one can tell what happened to the small PCB's inside the drive case and/or what the ?surge? may have done. – Blackbeagle Dec 21 '10 at 9:52

I'm sure your data is fine, those hard disk are air tight sealed, just extract it and wait for the coffee to dry up, or use a vaccum cleaner in reverse to dry it. The CPU might have got fried but you need to wait until the coffee dries up to know for sure. In any case DO NOT turn your computer on, wait a few days and try again.

  • ..and give it a good wipe to remove any sugar (?) residues from the coffea.. – zack Dec 20 '10 at 18:45
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    I'm sure no liquid has entered it, but HDDs are not actually air tight, as there is a small hole in the case, as air pressure is required to keep the heads from touching the platters. It's important to never cover this hole. – paradroid Dec 21 '10 at 5:36
  • The photo shows that there clearly is coffee on the HDD PCB. This can cause a short circuit, especially if it contains sugar. – paradroid Dec 21 '10 at 5:40

As always with data recovery: Check your backup. You do have backup, right? If not, put a price tag on your data. If this is 4-digit, head to a professional immediately. This aside, more info:

While the PCB board itself is protected by a coating, the contacts and soldering are not.

Coffee is acidic, and if the liquid or residue remain on the PCB, permanent damage is probable. If the through are open, the coffee is drawn in by capillary action and you will not be able to fully remove it.

Coffee is conductive, and there may or may not be permanent damage done by short circuits.

You can carefully remove the PCB to clean it with distilled water. Do not use tap water! Tap water can leave a conductive residue. Reattach after fully dry.

You can try to replace the PCB, if you find a similar disk of similar firmware. The firmware of the disk is partially saved on the disk, therefore the firmwares must match. I have had no luck with a seemingly similar disk when I tried this, because of firmware mismatch. (In the old days, the firmware resided on the PCB only, and switching PCB usually worked)

The data is very probably fine. I am pretty sure a professional will be able to restore the data anyway.

If you manage to get the drive going again, I advise to move the data to a different drive immediately. A failed drive cannot be trusted.


Soak the coffee (on the HDD) up with a paper tissue or similar. Clean carefully and gently with another paper tissue dipped in a little water. Then try starting it up. You may get lucky.


You can see another old hard drive same as yours (manufacture, size, etc...) and change the hard drive board. I have done this many times.

I had some old hard drives that had important data, and suddenly, the hard drive board stopped working, so I changed it with another one from a hard drive I found similar to the corrupted one, and it worked.

So my advice is to change the board and pray that the media isn`t corrupted.

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