Data Disaster Hall of Fame

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Top 10
Data Disasters

Careful Driver

A man pulled into a shopping center parking lot and parked his car. When he opened his door, he noticed that he had badly parked in two spots. He climbed back in and slammed the door, not noticing that he had dropped his camera on the road. As he re-corrected his parking several times, he felt something beneath the wheel, which turned out to be his camera.

Triple Whammy

When a lightning strike caused a fire that sent a famous Caribbean island home up in smoke, the computer servers were burned and then doused with water by the fire squad. The media then corroded while the building sat idle until it was safe to re-enter. In the end, the triple whammy of a lightning strike, fire and water damage was overcome in the Ontrack Data Recovery cleanroom.

Laptops Are Not Waterproof

A man brought his laptop on his beach holiday to stay caught up on e-mail. When the midday temperatures started to soar, he decided to go for a swim. A bit wary of leaving his laptop unattended, he popped it into a plastic bag so it would not get wet, and went for a dip-laptop and all. The bag did not prove as durable as he hoped. The laptop got soaked and the hard drive was ruined. However, Ontrack was able to recover much of the data stored on the waterlogged drive.

Law Trouble

As legal officials entered the home of a criminal suspect, the individual in question threw a laptop containing potentially pertinent evidence out the window of a 12-story building. As a result, the laptop smashed into many pieces on the sidewalk. Investigators turned to Kroll Ontrack to recover the photos, videos and e-mails.

Roasted Laptop

A gentleman put his laptop into the kitchen oven prior to leaving for vacation in order to protect it from burglars if the house was by chance broken into while away. His wife came home and got to the oven before he did to cook a roast chicken. The oven cooked not only the chicken, but the drive too.

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. The ants didn’t make it and until Kroll Ontrack’s engineers got their hands on it, it looked like the data wasn’t going to either.

Sock it to Me

Although the circumstances of the original data loss were unremarkable, the problem was intensified when the customer shipped his drive to Ontrack in a pair of dirty socks. The old socks didn’t provide the necessary protection during shipping and the resulting damage made the recovery more challenging than normal. Next time, he’ll stick with bubble wrap, but Ontrack successfully recovered his data.

La Cucaracha

In hopes of rescuing valuable company information, a customer pulled an old laptop out of a warehouse where it had been sitting unused for 10 years. When engineers opened the computer, it contained hundreds of husks of dead and decaying cockroaches.

Data Defrost

One man brought in a hard drive in a wet plastic bag. He said he had read on the Internet that if you place a broken drive in the freezer it would fix it. So he tried that method and asked the recovery engineers not to laugh.


A man who was so frustrated with his laptop, he shot it in a fit of rage, and then realized there were important files that he needed.