Some things actually do come out in the wash… Like my USB key!

For the past few years, I’ve kept my passwords on an encrypted USB key from Kingston, a DataTraveler Vault Privacy that ostensibly has military-grade encryption to keep your data safe. It seemed smarter than just having them sitting around in plain sight, or in plain text stored someplace on the cloud. And, quite frankly, I don’t trust password vault apps.

It was bound to happen eventually, but I left it in my jeans when they went through the washing machine. Oops. And when did I do my last backup, I wondered…

When we discovered the DataTraveler bouncing around inside the Whirlpool, my heart dropped. I was pretty certain that the last backup of the information on the device was months ago, and while I’m sure I could recover my passwords on the sites and applications where I had no backup, it wasn’t ideal to be certain.

I’ve sort of been here, and done that — with a MacBook Air. It wasn’t pretty. Or cheap.

But the Kingston didn’t seem waterlogged; I shook it rather violently, and only a few drops of water came from the business end of the device. I wasn’t sure whether to let it air dry, or exactly what to do. Disassembling it was one idea. Then I decided: No more water drops were coming-out, let’s just plug it in and see if it works.

It did. Perfectly.

I immediately made a backup of the data.

Life goes on.

That’s pretty much the story arc. There are some manufacturers out there that make waterproof USB keys, even secure ones, for bozos like me. But it’s nice to know that the fine people at Kingston have apparently figured out that people do dumb stuff, and built some resilience into the device.

Either that, or I just got lucky.

But the moral of the story? Keep your data backed-up, folks. You never know when you’ll inadvertently perform a little informal product testing. Or whether you’ll get lucky — or not.