What happens when your computer gets soaking wet

I had a very worrying experience a few days ago – but it has a happy ending that should reassure all computer users.

While walking around Norwich on holiday, I was carrying my MacBook in a rucksack and was caught in torrential rain. I should have found cover but my focus was elsewhere. I had a good coat and waterproof boots on, so I continued to trudge on through the deluge.

What a stupid thing to do.

I might have been dry enough but I should have known of old that a rucksack provides minimal protection from anything but a light shower.

Wet Mac

So when I finally got indoors, I found that the bottom of the laptop section of my bag (it’s one of those Targus ones, specifically designed for carrying a computer) was literally sloshing with water, and my Mac was soaked.

I dried it off with my handkerchief as best I could, and had a cursory attempt to dry it further with a hot air hand drier.

If I’d been in a more receptive mood, I might have enjoyed the comic picture of one man in a disabled toilet, trying to keep the automatic drier working with one hand, while with the other balancing a laptop a sufficient distance from the drier (ie near floor level) not to roast it.

Sadly my sense of humour was in temporary abeyance. Can’t think why.

So I returned to the table, trying to avoid the suspicious glances of the customers, who clearly could only think of one reason why a bloke should take a computer into a toilet with him. And then with some trepidation I started it up.

It worked!

For about ten minutes.

Then it shut itself down and wouldn’t start up again.

Backing up – what a good idea

It’s at this point that all my intentions to back stuff up started to taunt me. Yes, I’ll get a big memory iPod rather than just my little Nano. Yes, I’ll buy an external hard drive. Yes, I’ll upgrade to Leopard so I can use Time Machine. Mm… all of those would have been very good ideas.

Too late now.

I borrowed another machine and shared my pain with my Twitter friends. The general consensus seemed to be that I shouldn’t have switched it on at all, which didn’t give me much comfort.

But they directed my to some forums where this had happened to other people.

Dry it out

One suggestion was to seal it in a bag with dry rice, which supposedly would draw the dampness out. I haven’t tried this, but sealing it in a bag with its own moisture doesn’t seem very sensible to me

I just took the advice to dry it out for several days before trying again. I took the battery out and left it and the computer in a warm room for 48 hours and tried not to think about it.

When I couldn’t stand it any longer, I slotted the battery back in and pressed the “on” button.
It came on. And has continued to work perfectly.

I may have been lucky but if it ever happens to you it’s a course of action I heartily recommend. Although it’ll never happen to you, because you’ll keep your laptop in a neoprene skin, double wrapped in polythene and leave it at home if it rains.

Oh, and this method works for iPod Nanos too. Guess what else was in the rucksack…