Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bits, Bytes & Water Don't Mix

It happens more often than you might think. Now that cell phones, digital cameras, MP3 players and other assorted digital gizmos are shrinking in size, they are also winding up getting damaged by getting wet. Some end up in the laundry because they were hiding undetected in a pocket. Others slip out your hand and into the bathroom sink or the other less delicate bathroom water and waste receptacle. A phone kept in the pocket of someone who is working hard or exercising vigorously can also get wet from perspiration. There is also, of course, the device that was left out in the rain.

Unfortunately digital devices and water do not mix well. The circuits in these sub miniature devices are so compact that even a small amount of moisture can render an expensive mobile smart phone useless and the owner feeling anything but smart. Other than making a trip to the store to buy a new one, is there anything that can be done to save these waterlogged digital paper weights and or save the information locked inside?

If your device gets wet, the first thing to do is get it dried out quickly. If possible, remove the battery and gently towel off any visible water. Place it in a container that you can seal with a lid and cover the entire device with regular rice (skip the Rice-A-Roni), seal the container and let it stand for 24 hours of so. Do not try to help by heating it up in an oven or with a hair dryer. Room temperature is just fine. Do not use salt or other household chemicals as many are corrosives.

After about 24 hours, remove from the high tech casserole and insert the battery and if it works you smile and go on with your life. If it doesn’t, it is time to get a new one.

Even if the device is ruined the pictures, addresses and other information locked inside can often be retrieved. If the device uses an SD card or SIMMS card, they can be removed and most often all the data transferred to a new device or your computer. Even if it has non removable storage, you may still be able to retrieve your information.

Many mobile phone providers offer a free back up system that regularly sends all the data in your phone to a central server. So if you do loose your phone, damage it or just want a new one, the information can be reloaded. You may have that feature and not know it; you need to ask your retailer.

In general, the advice given about computers is salient here to. Back up your information. Sign up for a back up plan when you buy your cell phone. Make copies of all your MP3 music files and store them both in the device and in your computer. When you finish taking those pictures, remove the SD card or make copies of all the pictures on your computer.

Many of us rely more and more on these tools to make our life easier. Without back up, they can make our life miserable.

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