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Top Ten Unusual Requests for Data Recovery


Data Recovery Hit Parade

Disklabs countdown of odd requests for data recovery from computers and electronic devices comes to a close with this tale of woe.

Number 1 –  “Does it float Daddy?”

External disk drives are excellent for storage gigabytes and now even terabytes of data. Sadly they don’t make good bath toys. One of our clients contacted us in a panic when his four-year-old twins put it in the bath. Before you ask why would they do that, it was a trendy bright orange colour. And no it wasn’t plugged in.

Dunking hard disk drives in the water is not very good for the electronics and bubble bath isn’t helpful either. It took several days to dry the drive out and some careful cleaning but we were able to recover all of the data.

Number 2 – “It was an experiment that went wrong”

A student called us asking if we could help recover data from a laptop that he had microwaved. Apparently, he decided to do this because like Sir Edmund Hillary and Everest “it was there”. The resulting fire damaged the laptop beyond repair and ensured that the microwave subsequently gave anything cooked in it an unpleasant plasticky tang forever after.

Although the controller chips and wiring for the hard drive were damaged the platters themselves were readable so we did get the student out of a hole on this occasion.

You make think the student was an idiot but do a search for “microwaving a laptop” and you will see plenty of other people who were willing to try the same thing.

Number 3 “It didn’t survive 40mph along the tarmac”

Sadly leaving laptops on the roof of cars and then driving off is a common problem.  In the case, various laws of physics relating to gravity, inertia, friction and deceleration came into play.  Our client said that he had reached 40 mph before the laptop actual left the roof of the car.  Needless to say, this isn’t good for any part of the machine including the disk drive.

Fortunately, our team of experts were able to recover almost all of the business data stored on it.

Number 4 – “Our cat peed on my laptop”

The fact that the feline in question was a pedigree Persian Blue didn’t make any difference.  The encroachment of liquid into the computer didn’t do it any good.  Fortunately the disk drive in the laptop wasn’t damaged in the process and, for once, it was a very straightforward job to access data and save the client’s data.

Number 5 – “The wife got stroppy and snapped it in half”

To be fair the lady in question thought that her husband was having an affair.  The phone was one of the old clamshell types so she wasn’t displaying quite such an expression of outrage as if it had been an iPhone. Â, Even so, we only received half of the offending device. Fortunately the section with the working parts.

In this case, we were able to analyse the sorry remains and retrieve all of the text messages and contacts from the phone.

Number 6 – “I reversed the car over my laptop”

It could have been any of us.  One customer placed his laptop bag on the roof of his car as he prepared to drive into the office.  He suddenly remembered leaving his wallet in the house and went back inside. Wallet retrieved he jumped straight back into the car and started to drive off.  At this point he remembered the laptop and reversed back up the driveway; only to run over the bag and machine, which of course had already fallen off the roof.

Despite having a tonne or more of BMW on it we were able to recover the disk drive and restore the data.  The screen was a bit too “scratched” for further use.

Number 7 – “A bit of oil got spilt on it”

In this case, the description “a bit of oil” was somewhat wide of the mark.  The customer’s laptop was being used on an oil rig.  “A bit of oil” turned out to be 120 barrels of finest North Sea crude.

Although it was a messy job the oil was less contaminative than some other fluids that we have dealt and we were able to recover all of the data on the machine.

So if you too have “spilt a bit of something” on a laptop, tablet or phone we’ll be able to help.

Number 8 – “Sacked staff stuffed server”

After having his employment terminated a disgruntled member of a client’s IT department decided to reformat the email server…with a size 9 boot.  A prolonged bout of this treatment brought the life of the server to a premature end, damaged the hard drives and corrupted much of the data.

Staff-related malicious data damage and removal is, sadly, a big part of our work.  Fortunately in the majority of cases we can recover confidential email and system data for you.

Number 9 – “I dropped it from a second-floor building…on purpose.”

A client decided to test exactly how rugged his ruggedised laptop was by dropping it out of the window. Unfortunately he didn’t know that the specialised hard drive in the machine had been swapped for an ordinary hard drive.

Although the insides of the drive had been damaged by the fall Disklabs was able to recover the data intact.

If you need to recover data from a damaged disk drive we won’t tell anyone how it got that way!

Number 10 – “My wife threw my laptop down a well”

As you can imagine this was not an accidental computer disposal.

A married couple had something of a marital dispute, which involved allegations that the husband was “playing away from home”, so to speak.

His excuses and explanations were not deemed sufficiently plausible by the man’s wife and revenge was wreaked by the flinging of his laptop into a 60 foot well.

Despite the drop and the dunking, our data recovery team were able to rescue the hard disk drive and return whatever gems of content it contained to the owner.


Call us today on +44(0)1827 55999 or use our contact form if you have a problem with a computer disk drive, a phone or a tablet.

Disklabs – Cell site data analysis and reporting experts

Data Compass – Failed Disk Imager


High speed data recovery from failed hard drives

Disklabs uses the Data Compass hard drive imager from Salavation Data in our data recovery laboratory for high speed, sensitive and accurate data restoration.


Standard disk recovery tools are only useful in repairing damaged file structures. Data Compass allows our team to interrogate physically damaged disks.  This covers circumstances such as;

• Bad sectors

• Platter surface scratches

• MHA (malfunctioning head assembly) issues

• Servo info problems.

Having this capability allows us to support clients in a range of scenarios both recover important or valuable data for personal or commercial use, and as part of investigations where the data may be required as evidence.

Our general data recovery service is designed to help both individuals, businesses and organisations recover data whether your disk has malfunctioned or sustained some form of physical damage. Disklabs has the tools and expertise to get the data back and we even offer a “No fix/no fee” option if price is a concern for you.

Priority and 24/7 emergency service options are also available to help you restore data where speed of response is mission critical.

To discover how Disklabs can support your investigation call +44(0)1827 50000 today or use our contact form to let us know your requirements.


Disklabs – Cell Site Analysis experts for criminal defence solicitors

Protect against password cracking


Tonight with Trevor MacDonald

Disklabs’ Simn Steggles was interviewed back in 2007 by Fiona Foster for a “Tonight with Trevor MacDonald” programme about password cracking. Fiona visited the Disklabs Computer Forensics laboratory at its Tamworth, Staffordshire HQ.

Even in 2007 it took only 16 minutes for Simon to reveal the password used by the reporter to “protect” some data.

In 2015 the technology available to crack passwords and hack computer systems is infinitely more powerful. Yet most consumers and a large number of businesses and other organisations still rely very basic passwords to protect important, sensitive and valuable data.

To find out how Disklabs can help you protect your data or discover weak points in your systems take a look at our computer forensics consultancy capability.

To arrange a confidential discussion simply call +44(0)1827 50000 today or use our contact form.

Disklabs –  Mobile call log analysis for criminal defence solicitors