Ants, acid and business brawls: The top ten data disaster stories for 2007

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Ants, acid and business brawls: The top ten data disaster stories for 2007

Keeping honey well away from your computer and not using a washing machine to clean external hard drives may be some of the hard lessons learnt by hapless computer users if Ontrack Data Recovery’s 2007 Data Disaster League list is anything to go by.

Detailing some of the most numbskull and bizarre ‘accidents’ to befall hard drives, Ontrack’s list shows just how hard the daily slog of being an electronic storage device can be.

Ontrack reported it has seen more damaged portable devices than ever before and have tackled an ever-widening range of recovery challenges.

“We’re always fascinated by the extraordinary things people do to data that is often irreplaceable,” said Adrian Briscoe, general manager at Ontrack Data Recovery.

One of the more ‘extraordinary’ rigours faced by storage devices details a British scientist, who was fed up with the way his hard drive was squeaking, decided to drill a hole through the casing and pour oil into the mechanics. The squeaking stopped, and so did the hard drive.

A different disaster was faced when a woman complained she had ‘washed all her data away’. Her USB stick had been through a cycle in her washing machine and unsurprisingly she couldn’t retrieve any data from it.

Another incident involving an Australian businessman saw a USB stick, loaded with valuable company data, explode in pieces as it was hurled at a colleague in the heat of an argument.

But the best recovery of all involved an army of ants and perhaps a misplaced honey sandwich. Discovering ants had taken up residence in his external hard drive, a photographer in Thailand took the cover off his computer and sprayed the interior with insect repellent.

The ants didn't make it, but luckily the drive did.

Ontrack Data Recovery 2007 Top Ten List of Data Disasters and Remarkable Recoveries

10. All washed up – A woman called Ontrack Data Recovery engineers complaining she had ‘washed all her data away’. Her USB stick had been through a cycle in her washing machine and unsurprisingly she couldn’t retrieve any data from it.

9. Doting Dad – Rushing home from work to feed his baby daughter, an over-enthusiastic father forgot about the USB stick in his top pocket. As he lent over the high-chair, the device fell in a dish of sticky apple puree.

8. Taking the bait – A fisherman thought that he would take his laptop along to play a few games whilst waiting for a bite in his rowing boat. As he stood up, both he and the laptop went overboard, taking all his data to the bottom of the lake.

7. Panicked photographer – A wedding photographer faced the potential wrath of a new bride when he discovered he had overwritten her photos with ones from another event, the photos were recovered before the couple learned of the mistake.

6. Acid trip – A scientist spilt acid on an external hard drive during an experiment. Thinking all the data had been burnt, he called in the experts, who were able to successfully recover the data on the drive.

5. Business brawl – In the heat of an argument, an Australian businessman threw a USB stick at his partner. Containing valuable company plans, the stick ended up in several pieces on the floor.

4. Indiscriminate inferno – A fire destroyed the majority of the contents of an office, only leaving a few CDs. The sticking point was they had melted to the inside of their cases – a unique job for the engineers.

3. Quest for a quiet life – A British scientist was fed up with his hard drive squeaking, so he drilled a hole through the casing and poured oil into the mechanics. The squeaking stopped, and so did the hard drive.

2. Pointless parachute - In an effort to test the functionality of a parachute, a camera (acting as the cargo) was dropped from a plane. Unfortunately, the parachute failed its test and the fragile cargo shattered into several pieces.

1. Ant invasion – Discovering ants had taken up residence in his external hard drive, a photographer in Thailand took the cover off and sprayed the interior with insect repellent.
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