2012 Top 10 Data Disasters by Ontrack UK

Every year we handle 50,000 data recoveries globally. Some of the data loss scenarios are quite common whereas others can leave even our clean room engineers surprised. This year's list, all of which were successful data recoveries performed by engineers in various Ontrack offices worldwide, indicates that the increasing reliance on electronic data and reliability of technology is often compromised by human error.

10. Rinse cycle

Ontrack France

A woman placed her external hard drive in a basket of dirty-laundry and carried it downstairs. The family cat strategically placed itself on the laundry, which obscured the view of the drive from the woman's boyfriend, who shooed away the cat and quickly loaded the clothes in the washing machine. On went the machine and away went the data. Ontrack was able to recover the data.

9. Don't drink and work!

Ontrack Poland

A graphic designer about to finish a beautiful 3D logo for a customer, decided to have a drink to celebrate. When he returned from the kitchen to admire his work, he accidently knocked over the glass - giving his computer a chance to take a sip. The project was gone, and so was the designer's happiness. Ontrack was able to recover the data.

8. Lost in the desert

Ontrack Australia

Imagine working in one of the most challenging and remote environments of the world and being confronted with a serious data loss. This is what happened to a resources company in the Gobi Desert. They accidently deleted a VMware® machine and several snapshots. Luckily, IT got in touch with Ontrack, and via a satellite link, a remote data recovery session was quickly established. The link enabled Ontrack engineers to work around-the-clock, and data was recovered in a much shorter time than originally anticipated.

7. Erase all traces

Ontrack Australia

When an Australian pool and spa shop was being robbed, the burglars decided to hide all the evidence by pouring the large stock of hydrochloric acid on the shop floor and counters, consequently damaging the shop's computer and point of sale terminal. The shop owner was able to get a very smelly drive to the local Ontrack lab, and although the computer was very badly damaged, all the data was recovered.

6. Slippery hands

Ontrack UK

An iPad®, containing important drilling data, was dropped off the side of a Nigerian oil rig. While water is the most common cause of damage to mobile devices, this incident, involving salt water, proved to be no problem for Ontrack.

5. Lost in transit

Ontrack USA

A city worker put his backpack, containing his iPad, down on the footpath to give his shoulder a break while waiting for the bus. The bus pulled up, but before letting on the passengers, the driver realised the bus was obstructing the footpath. The city worker didn't pick up his backpack in time, and the bus crushed its contents, including the iPad. Despite the extensive physical damage to the electronics, the data was recovered by Ontrack.

4. Disgruntled employee

Ontrack USA

After an employee was fired, he took solace at a fast-food chain and plotted his revenge. This included logging on to the network he still had access to and deleting as much data as he could get his hands on using the restaurant's free Wi-Fi. The story had a happy ending, as terabytes of data were recovered and the culprit was identified by matching his food purchase order and payment information to the time of the crime and network used to delete the data.

3. Careful driver

Ontrack Poland

A man pulled into a shopping centre and parked his car. When he opened his door, he noticed that he had parked across two spaces. He got back in and shut the door, not noticing that he had dropped his camera on the ground outside. As he re-corrected his parking several times, he felt something under the tyre, which turned out to be his camera. Ontrack was able to recover the photos and videos.

2. Sweeping illness

Ontrack USA

Viruses can be silent and deadly, so when a malware attack infected 30,000 workstations at a Middle Eastern oil company, swift efforts were required to cease the damage and restore business continuity. Ontrack not only identified the virus as the damage culprit, but recovered data from several critical servers and workstations.

1. Don't ignore blinking RED lights

Ontrack Spain

A server with a RAID5 configuration was brought into the Ontrack Madrid office after numerous people in an office noticed a red blinking light on the front panel warning that one of the disk drives had failed. The IT manager said the light didn't mean anything but within three weeks, after a second disk drive failed, the data became inaccessable. Ontrack restored 100 per cent of the data.