Soldering Saves Data From Waterlogged Laptop

What happens when you drop your laptop in the pool? Well, yes, you buy a new laptop. But what about your data. You do have backups, right? No, of course, you don’t. But if you can solder like [TheRasteri] you could wire into the flash memory on the motherboard and read it one last time. You can see the whole exploit in the video below.

There’s really three tasks involved. First is finding the schematic and board layout for motherboard. Apparently, these aren’t usually available from the manufacturer but can be acquired in some of the seedier parts of the Internet for a small fee. Once you have the layout, you have to arrange to solder wires to the parts of the flash memory you need to access.

The final task is to interface the flash memory. Turns out, that’s easy. You simply buy a cheap SD card reader and gut it, soldering wires where the flash memory connector used to be. You can often get these for free after rebate or just pay a few bucks for one. It doesn’t have to last very long.

The video shows some good tips for isolating the chip by removing resistors or cutting into the motherboard. There are also a few things you might not think about at first, like holding the chip’s reset pin high for the operation.

Did it completely work? We won’t give it away, but we will say that since he was doing this for a friend, it is good to have a friend like [TheRasteri]. Surprisingly, we’ve seen this done before with a wet cell phone. While it does take a bit of soldering skill, it isn’t like you have to solder to every ball on a BGA or anything.

21 thoughts on “Soldering Saves Data From Waterlogged Laptop

  1. About those schematics and boardviews : there are some really resourceful people on the badcaps forum, and someone has a huge FTP full of goodness, for free. I don’t know what exactly is the business model of the websites selling schematics, but my guess is shady at best. Since this is semi-legal, I’ll let you guys dig around, but if the mods on hackaday are okay, I can post the link to the forum thread (not that hard to find).
    Initiate debate about the morality and legality of sharing closed-source documents for repair

      1. Could post the link in a month or so as reference for future readers when this post is well out the frontpage (and sas ocd hoarders memory). At least until someone mirror them in the internet archive.

        And yeah, I don’t think that there is any reasonable morality debate possible about the right to repair. May be just a debate about the actual legality.

  2. Luis Rossman would; Rant on Apple for making 3 party repairs difficult, then proclaim the previous repair attempt a bodge job. Then he would track the fault to the SMC, desolder it and replace it with another from a dead board. Then Discover it still wont post and conclude Apple are assholes for soldering the SSD to the board.

  3. Yup. Wish someone would post a schematic for a reader that can recover data on iPod/iPhone BGA chips.
    Have one or two here which are unreadable at present with valuable data on them.

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