Top 10 data destruction disasters

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It's amazing some of the ways people can lose data. Our favourite excuses of late involve everything from toilets to tarmac and mountaineering to meterology

Ontrack Data Recovery unveiled its 2004 list of the 10 strangest and funniest computer mishaps.

1. 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.

2. Reckless Recycling
One man tidied up his computer folders and inadvertently deleted the ones he meant to keep. He then cleaned up his system, emptied the recycle bin and defragged the hard drive before realising his error. He now triple-checks files before deleting them for good.

3. Rowdy Relatives
A man suddenly found his laptop would only boot up to the 'blue screen of death', putting his data at risk. A week later, his nephew admitted that he used its screen as a punching bag to relieve his frustrations with the slow computer. The man sent his nephew back to live with his parents.

4. Digital Disaster at 19,000 Feet
The Polish explorer Krystof Wielicki dropped his digital camera when climbing the Himalayas on his latest expedition, smashing it to smithereens and damaging the memory card in the process.

5. Gone in a Flash
One medical company worker completed 1,200 customer billing entries — a process that took several days — when lightning struck the transformer outside the building. Everything was gone, including all the bills she had just prepared.

6. Baby Blues
One couple had hundreds of pictures of their baby's first three months on their computer. When a virus struck their PC, the computer manufacturer advised them to reload the operating system but they forgot to save the data.

7. Construction Calamity
During the construction of a large office building, a steel beam fell on a laptop computer containing the building plans, crushing the laptop.

8. Toilet Trauma
One man became so mad with his malfunctioning laptop computer, he threw it into the toilet and flushed a couple of times.

9. Road Kill
A woman placed her laptop on top of her car while she got in. She forgot about the laptop, which slid off the back of her car, and she then reversed straight over it and reported hearing a 'crunch'.

And finally…

10. Runway Wreckage
A laptop computer was run over by an aeroplane. Even Ontrack's recovery engineers don’t understand how it happened, but that was the customer's explanation.

Jim Reinert is Ontrack Data Recovery senior director of Software and Services.[/b]