Tech Question: Restoration of flood damaged magnetic media

From: Brian D Williams (
Date: Wed Apr 05 2000 - 08:02:43 MDT


>I am urgently in need of some advice from someone who has
>experience in recovering damaged magentic digital data storage
>media. In particular, I need to know about the practical
>capabilities of reading data from 9-track and 8 mm tape that has
>been submerged for as much as 24 hours in dirty water.
> While I appreciate the informed opinions of the many tech-savvy
>folks on the list to the effect of "it should be no problem", I
>REALLy need to talk to someone who actually does this kind of work
>or who can get me in touch with someone who has done it. Any
>practical leads would be greatly appreciated.


I never done the kind of tape you describe, but I have rescued
cassette tapes, 8-track tapes, radio's, color TV's, computers, and
countless telephones from water and coffee/soft drink spills. I
recovered a housefull of electronics after the great Chicago flood
of a few years back, when stores downtown had big flood sales.

The first step is to get it clean of the gunk. the only thing to
use for this is distilled water, preferably de-ionized.

I use a cheap plastic squeeze bottle I bought from a surplus
medical store (I paid a buck). This is preferable to simply
immersing the thing in water, but do that if you have too, the
essential thing is to get the gunk off.

Since the tape was only immersed most of it was spooled fairly
tight and should be unaffected. partially disasemble or drill small
holes in the case if you have to.

Next most important is to dry it carefully, drain and carefully
blot dry every part you can. Q-tips and compressed air cans work
well for this. Warm air is okay but not HOT!

Once its dry, copy the data immediately on to new media.

If all else fails the expert on this is Scott Mueller of Mueller
and associates in Barrington Ill. Scott wrote a bokk on "Data
Recovery" as well as the best selling computer book ever written
"Upgrading and repairing PC's".

Good Luck!


Extropy Institute,
Adler Planetarium
Life Extension Foundation,
National Rifle Association,, 1.800.672.3888
Mars Society,
Ameritech Data Center Chicago, IL, Local 134 I.B.E.W

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