Murphy's Law with Bottled Water
April 17, 2006 1:29 PM   Subscribe

How can I get my computer to work again after spilling water on the keyboard?

I spilled a small amount of water on the keyboard of my laptop computer as I was writing a term paper (of course, when else!) and within 10 seconds everything had frozen. I turned it off by holding the power button down to restart and now when I turn it back on the power light comes on but it does nothing, literally. Please help, I need to recover this paper!
posted by superbird to Technology (8 answers total)
there have been threads about this before like: this one, which was also tagged with spills. To sum up what they all say: don't turn the power on until you're sure its completely dry.

There is probably a way to take the hard drive out of the laptop to recover the paper, even if the rest of the computer is broken, but I don't know how.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 1:38 PM on April 17, 2006

The thing is I couldn't find anything with reference to laptops, which I assume are a bit more serious since the keyboard is basically right over the cpu. Am I screwed?
posted by superbird at 1:43 PM on April 17, 2006

Turn it off and keep it off for now.

The good news is, even if the water fried it, the paper on the hard drive is probably safe. Probably. Worst case you find a shop or someone with the same machine (or a 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 inch IDE adapter) and you put your hard drive in another machine to recover the paper.

Unplug it and take the battery out of it.

Turn it upside down, or at whatever angle the water will best drain out of the keyboard.

If you're Good With Tools, and it's not the type of laptop that you need special tools for, usually all you need to take the case off is a small phillips head or Torx driver.

Taking the case off will help it dry faster. You can speed it along by blowing it with a hair dryer from 1 -2 feet away. If nothing else aim a fan at it.

Basically you want it to dry out. Give it 24 hours. Then you can try turning it on and seeing what happens. Chances are it'll be fine. If not, take it to a shop or your local tech friend.
posted by bondcliff at 1:44 PM on April 17, 2006

The thing is I couldn't find anything with reference to laptops, which I assume are a bit more serious since the keyboard is basically right over the cpu. Am I screwed?

It really depends on the laptop. Often the keyboard can actually protect the CPU.

I'd bet money that the hard drive will be ok no matter what. If it comes to the point where you have to take it to someone, call around and find someone who specializes in laptops, and make sure they understand your problem before you give it to them. You don't want to hand it to someone and have them reformat it for you.
posted by bondcliff at 1:47 PM on April 17, 2006

Unplug computer to make sure it is OFF, then try replacing the keyboard (borrow your roommate's)and get back to work. If you were in Word hopefully it was auto saved.
posted by sgobbare at 1:47 PM on April 17, 2006

Sorry, I didn't see that it was a laptop. About which, I know not a thing.
posted by sgobbare at 1:49 PM on April 17, 2006

Here's what you do. Not sure what kind of laptop you have but remove the harddrive, take it out of the hard drive caddy (this is pretty simple and just involved removing 4 screws). Then get one of these and plug your hard drive into it. You now have a portable USB 2.0 hard drive that you can plug into any machine and continue working on your paper.

As for your laptop, wait till its dry or send it in if its under warranty.
posted by special-k at 4:24 PM on April 17, 2006

I asked this very question just a few months ago and got excellent advice from AskMe. The name of the game seems to be patience. Wait until you're completely sure that it's dry, and then wait a few more days.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:37 PM on April 18, 2006

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