For the past 11 years Kroll Ontrack, the company I work for, has been collecting and publishing a list of the ten most interesting data losses from its offices around the globe. Thanks to our proprietary tools and 18 state-of-the-art data recovery labs and ISO-5/Class 100 cleanroom environments, we are usually successful at recovering deleted, corrupt, missing, or inaccessible data from personal devices all the way up to complex servers. Here is a list of the top 10 most interesting data disasters we’ve encountered so far in 2013.
10. Long Journey, Broken Drive (Hong Kong)
When a world cyclist and photographer arrived in Hong Kong in May 2013, they discovered that the hard drive with two years of photos and video of his 40,000 km cycle fundraiser around the world was broken. The Hong Kong team quickly got to work on this case, but it proved to be a very challenging recovery as the drive had major media damage in multiple locations on multiple surfaces. Trying every imaginable recovery technique possible, our engineers were able to recover most of the images.
9. Movie Mayhem (Poland)
While producing a movie for a film festival, a team of filmmakers encountered an on-set disaster. They were backing up their laptop to an external drive during production one day, when one of the crew members accidentally kicked the table over. Both the laptop and external drive crashed to the floor making the data inaccessible. Eighteen months of production and investments gone with only two months until the festival. We were able to recover over 80 percent of the data, enabling the filmmakers to make the festival’s deadline.
8. Data Gone Wild (UK)
A university student called looking for emergency service on her laptop. She had lost her year-end term paper, and needed it back to pass her class. When an engineer asked what happened to the laptop, she explained that the year-end party from the night before was the culprit. Her laptop was found drowning in spilled drinks.
7. Gamer’s Rage (France)
One day, the mother of three children tried to start the family computer without success. Error message. She asked the children if something strange happened because they were the last to use it. No answer. She suspected something and asked again. The oldest sibling said her brother was so angry that he lost a video game, he slammed his fists on the keyboard!
6. Foiled Robbery (Italy)
A thief took a laptop among other items from a home, but must have gotten scared off during the robbery. While fleeing, the thief abandoned the laptop in the garden. It was found by the owner after being out in the rain all night. We were able to recover the data from the SSD inside.
5. Use Caution While Under The Influence (US)
After a night of partying, a man woke up in the middle of the night and used what he thought to be a restroom. In the morning, he discovered that it was not a restroom, and his laptop was a poor substitute for a toilet. We were able to recover 100% of the data.
4. Sabotage (UK)
We received a package of hard drive pieces. When our engineers called the company to find out what had happened, the company explained that the drive had been hit repeatedly with a hammer. The company insisted we try to recover the drive data. One file was recovered. What the company learned from that one file was that an employee had tried to wipe a file and destroy evidence. The one file recovered was enough to prosecute the employee.
3. Natural Disasters (US)
Unfortunately, some of the biggest data disasters stem from natural disasters. When one customer learned about looming Hurricane Sandy, they sprang into action and made a backup of all of their servers. However, they couldn’t have predicted that the river half a mile from their office would have flooded to the extent it did, leaving all of their servers and backup tapes submerged in 28 inches of water. We were able to recover 100 percent of the office space design company’s data, which had been in business since 1957. The company said that without data recovery, they would have had to rebuild their business from scratch.
2. Spiders! (Italy)
We were called to work on a 5-year-old server where the hard drive had crashed. When the data recovery engineer opened up the drive, he found the nest and spiders inside. They also had a vacation home in the drive of the server right next to the parking area of the heads. 100 percent of the data was recovered.
1. A Mobile Phone Is Not Bullet-Proof (US)
Enough said. Full recovery, 10GB of data total.