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Are SSDs more susceptible to data loss from water damage than HDDs?

I got this question from a professor friend of mine, and I think it's an interesting point.

"Now that we're fully in the SSD era, are users perhaps more susceptible to data loss if coffee is spilled in the keyboard than in the past? I'm thinking of the case of something like the MacBook Air, with its SSD on an interface card, and surface mount chips. I'd think a liquid getting on that would be game over, versus something like an SSD within 2.5" hard drive enclosure, which is at least protected.

"I've had several faculty members have catastrophic loss of data recently because of spilled coffee. And I'm sure you have an opinion on this or have some pointers. Thanks!"

Hard drives are so rugged, and I feel like they're pretty resilient to water damage. I haven't personally had enough experience with SSD liquid issues to answer this myself.

What have you seen? Is catastrophic data loss more common with silicon-based storage?

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Kyle -

I don't think one is better than the other here as they both have exposed electrical connections that any wetness will damage. The killer is always the salts, acids & bases in the water or drink that messes things up. As an example If you spilled pure distilled water into your phone there is no ionic action to corrode things so you could shake it dry and be none the wiser. You can't do that with a can of Coke or a cup of Tea, or even most tap water.

Now if one where to throw the drive off a boat into very deep water which would you be able to salvage the data off of would be the SSD! Unlike a HD the SSD has no air chambers so it can handle the depths, were as the HD would get crushed or the seals would leak letting water into the patter area. That is assuming the electrical connections didn't get corroded.

In all cases its' the corrosion or sorting out of a component that does you in.

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From no prior research, just off the top of my head, I would say that 2.5in SSD's are equivalent in liquid resistance to 2.5in HDDs. They are both protected by the metal casing but if water were to get inside, game over for both (the SSD because it would short and the HDD because it wouldn't be able to read or write data through liquid). A SSD like the Macbook Air uses is probably less resistant to liquid damage simply because there's nothing protecting it, if water makes contact it would be the same as it getting to the inside of a 2.5in SSD.

That's my hypothesis at-least...

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If the board is shorted somewhere, no one can protect you. Even with mechanical HDDs. The board is replaceable so data might be recoverable. But shorted controller board may act erratically and ruin everything on the disk. Electronically I'd say they are about the same.

But mechanically HDD is nowhere near SSD. The chip packaging in the SSD are exteremely durable, even aircraft black boxes use similar design, with a tougher case obviously.

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Good thinking going on here, it pretty much describes and explains my Air's strange demise:

My Air wouldn't charge, new charge unit cured that. The day after buying the new charger, a glass of water was spilled on table next to the Air--the Air was sitting in a shallow puddle all around. It then quit booting, charging, or doing anything useful. Disassembled deep enough to find a little bit of water inside, along margin of the battery at the thicker end--surface tension led it in from the bottom?? Anyway, I saw no sign of water in any ports or on keyboard after spill. I let it air dry, but no change, it is inert, not even an LED on the charge plug. I guess I've got a Macbook Wick. Stillplanning to pull files off the SSD, soon as I read up on getting to the SSD. Not counting on retrieving anything from the drive, just want to see if it really drowned in a puddle.

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If the SSD components are exposed like in the Macbook Airs and ESPECIALLY the A1502 retina where they put it right by the vent that the fan shoots water into; yes. I have repaired at least half a dozen A1502 SSDs(I mean take out components and fix, not pirated diskwarrior) compared to zero issues of hard drives dying from water entering a computer from older generations.

In terms of standard 2.5" form factor SSDs, I would guess equal to a regular hard drive. Toss it in water yes it will get &&^&@@ up, but doubt some contact from a laptop liquid spill will do anything, it is harder to get the water into the right spot for it to become damaged.

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My mSATA was dunked in red wine. Sat in rice for 4 days and it works:)

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I hope you rinsed it off with distilled water first, otherwise the acids in the wine will slowly kill your drive.

BTW: Rice is not recommended to dry out wet devices! It's a great pulling out moisture from the air, not very good pulling moisture from devices.

The best way is if you can open up the device blot up any visible wetness then wash off any areas that you can as whats in the drink needs to be removed first (distilled water and/or isopropyl alcohol). Then use a warm oven or other low heat source to dry the device.

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Kyle Wiens will be eternally grateful.
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