Ant infestations and pointless parachutes lead this year’s Data Disaster League

Kroll Ontrack’s annual celebration of the craziest recovery requests reveals new levels of crimes committed against data

Ant-infested hard drives and failing parachutes top the 2007 Data Disaster League list from Kroll Ontrack ® .

The annual league illustrates some of the strangest and wackiest things that people put electronic storage devices through on a regular basis. From putting drives in the washing machine to using oil to stop them from squeaking, the engineers at Kroll Ontrack have seen it all – time and time again.

This year, the global data recovery experts have seen more damaged portable devices than ever before and have tackled an ever-widening range of recovery challenges – the cases cited in the league are some of the astonishing data recovery successes.

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

10. All washed up – A woman called Kroll Ontrack 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. Two days before the couple returned from their honeymoon, he called Kroll Ontrack for help. The bride was none the wiser.

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 in Australia, a 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. With the help of Kroll Ontrack, the camera’s memory stick was reassembled and the video of the parachute’s demise was recovered.

And finally, the number one most remarkable data disaster of 2007…

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. 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 make it either.

We’re always fascinated by the extraordinary things people do to data that is often irreplaceable,” said Phil Bridge, Managing Director at Kroll Ontrack UK. “What is even more astonishing, though, is the technology our engineers are continually developing to recover information and memories. We can often perform a successful recovery from what may seem to be a hopeless case – proving that you should never give up. Our advice is that if you lose data, do not try to recover it yourself and risk further damage. Talk to an expert,” he added.