Top Ten Crazy Data Disaster Recoveries

Can you do any worse than dropping your USB stick into a baby’s puree?

What's this? Data disasters? Hey, what’s that got to do with plastic surgery, anyhow?

Usually, not a whole lot. But I bet you are reading this on a computer and at some time in your computing life, have lost some data. (So chill. We’ll chat up some plastic surgery later. Wait until you read about Dolly Parton!)

Just like there are surgeons who can make you look better, there are “surgeons” who can pluck your lost data from whatever morass you have subjected your computer to. And with people messing up all over, the data recovery dudes do a land office business!



Yearly, Ontrack Data Recovery, a global firm headquartered in New Zealand, issues an annual list of the wacky ways people have lost computer information.

Here’s the list of the top data disasters recoveries from 2007:

10. A washing machine.

A woman dropped her USB stick into a washing machine, forgot about it and allowed the gizmo to wash, soak, spin, rinse and spin again. Oddly enough, the data stick didn’t seem to work any more. But the data geeks made sure the info was not all washed up.

9. Sticky baby goo.

A doting dad carrying his data stick in his shirt pocket leaned over and dropped it into his baby daughter’s dish of sticky apple puree. (Good thing he wasn’t changing a diaper!) The techies cleaned out the goop.

8. Man overboard!

You know how it is when you’re fishing. Long periods of nothing happening so you take along a book. One guy brought his laptop instead, but tripped and fell overboard, allowing the portable ‘puter to settle to the bottom of the lake. But the data life savers fixed it.

7. Remove the lens cap!

A professional photographer risked a large fee when he found he was using an already full chip to photograph a $40,000 wedding. The magicians at Ontrack Data fixed it before the bride got back from her honeymoon.

6. Electronic acid trip.

A scientist doing an experiment spilled acid on an external hard drive. Again, the experts pulled his supposedly burned data from the fire.

5. Put up your dukes!


(Penny Matthews photo)

An Australian businessman got into a fight with his partner. In the heat of combat, he picked up a USB stick -- containing valuable company data -- and threw it, breaking the dohickey into several pieces. But the data were recovered, anyhow.

4. Five Alarm Fire.

A business office caught on fire, destroying everything but a few CDs which melted onto the inside of their cases. It was a one-of-a kind job but the experts saved the contents of the scorched disks.

3. Quiet zone.

A British scientist became weary of a squeak in his hard drive so, employing the universal scientific deductive reasoning method, he drilled a hole in the case and poured in some oil. The bothersome noise stopped. So did the hard drive. But the experts found a way around a slippery situation.

2. Geronim-o-o-o-o-o-o!

To test a parachute, technicians rigged a camera as cargo and dropped it from a plane. But the parachute failed and broke the camera into several pieces. The recovery experts managed to put the camera’s memory stick back together, thereby recovering the parachute’s malfunction.

And, (drum roll please,) the top data disaster recovery for 2007, ta da!:

1. Pest control.



A Thai photographer found ants infecting his external hard drive. So he did the logical thing, removed the cover and sprayed the drive with insect killer. That did a deadly job on the pests and the hard drive until the data recovery people removed the little insect corpses and re-established control of the data.


What’s the wildest way you lost some computer files?

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