back to article Dogs and arson feature in top 10 data recovery disasters

Computer forensics experts need a talent for data recovery. Crooks are increasingly becoming aware of the possibility that digital evidence might condemn them, raising the likelihood that devices containing potentially sensitive information will wind up being destroyed. For example, data recovery firm Disklabs successfully …


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  1. Barry Tabrah

    Number 8

    Exactly how did a bottle of wine being spilt over a keyboard cause data loss? How much data was actually stored in the keyboard at the time?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well what do you expect?

    If you hire canine arsonists to do your data recovery, disaster is sure to ensue.

  3. Sooty

    bottle of wine spilled over a keyboard???

    even if it's a laptop* that shouldn't really affect a hermetically sealed disk too badly. Unplug the drive from case and plug into a caddy, job done!

    *and i bet they get plenty that aren't.

  4. Ian Loveridge

    Bottle of wine?

    Did they extract it and re-bottle it from the keyboard? Bet it tasted of vinegar...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo


    I'd fancy my chances of getting data back after someone spilled red wine over a keyboard. Especially a desktop pc.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Bottle of wine spilled over keyboard.

    How does trashing a *keyboard* qualify as one of the top 10 *data* recovery disasters?

    Paris because. Just because.

  7. TeeCee Gold badge

    Dogs and Arson?

    As in: "My dog set fire to my homework"?

  8. Lloyd
    Thumb Down

    Nice Advert

    Did they pay you much for it?

  9. Dave

    No. 8: Bottle of wine spilled over keyboard.

    Man, that must have been tough:

    1. Rinse

    2. Dry

    3. Profit.

  10. Chris


    What data did they manage to recover from a keyboard doused in wine? and how the hell's that a top 10 item? slow year for data recovery, or should the title have been the 'only 10' data recovery disasters by datalabs this year

  11. Justin Case
    Thumb Down

    Not so good

    Most of the above scenarios, wine, fire, flood wouldn't have caused much damage a good drying out wouldn't have cured. I am not impressed.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    top 10?

    Do they only get 10 jobs a year or something.. some of these are really scrapping the barrel, number 6 scratched DVD could probably have been fixed with a tube of toothpaste and a wet finger! Would have thought they could have come up with something a bit more exciting...

  13. Chris

    Curious lack of detail

    Despite what you might hear to the contrary, a bottle of wine is very very unlikely to cause damage to your data when poured over the keyboard - or anywhere else for that matter.

    Funny how the last 3 items lacked the detail of the first seven; perchance someone made them up to an even 10?

  14. ShaggyDoggy

    and ...

    11. DNA data extracted from keyboard that indiviudal had typed a "terrorist threat" letter on

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Great free advertising for company concerned and not news.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Not just data but also booze

    > Bottle of wine spilled over keyboard.

    They can operate a funnel and a sieve as well as data recovery tools?

  17. TheBloke
    Thumb Down

    This is the worst list ever

    'Bottle of wine spilled over keyboard..', 'Scratched DVD ..' - wow, hold the front page, data recovery firm recovers data from a scratched DVD! Whoulda thunk it.

    The first one was good. After that it's lame and seems like just an excuse to promote Datalabs.

  18. Shaun Austin

    Number 8?

    Surely, they just, you know.... plugged a new one in???!?

  19. Chris Young

    news or advert ...

    how much did DiskLabs pay for this "article" then?

    I work for Headland Media, maybe I coukd think up something interesting about our maritime news services that could qualify as a "news story".

    I'll get my coat ...

  20. Kenny Swan
    Paris Hilton


    CCTV cameras store the data locally? How do they retrieve it? I thought the images would have been stored at the monitoring centre and not in the camera itself. Seems stupid to me.

  21. Lottie

    Watch out BOFH!!

    I'm impressed they could remove the data after the fire/ falling through the floor.

    Bofh might need a new way to destroy his tracks.

  22. Daniel Garcia


    will be the villain best friend!

    /coat -fast

  23. David Greaves
    Thumb Down

    If they're so good....

    ... maybe they can accept this challenge:

    A normal fully functioning drive overwritten with 0s

    Not exactly hard to do.

    Getting back data from an accidentally damaged drive is one thing - a criminal with a bit of tech savvy OTOH.

    Mind you a disaster recovery firm who can recover data from a PC after spilling wine on the keyboard. Wow! They must be good.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Is that all?

    "Pulling data from a mobile phone that had been smashed into 11 pieces"

    11? That's not exactly 'smashed' in my book; What's the betting 10 of those pieces were the screen?

    "Scratched DVD made by a father of his daughter’s birth. "

    But how was it scratched? Most scratches are easy to recover.

    "Recovery of data from a RAID server of an aircraft components distribution firm. The kit fell through the floor during a huge fire. The hard disk drives were delivered to Disklabs Data Recovery, still smelling of burning electrics, plastic and water from the fire service."

    The smell of water? I hear the smell is what kills the electrics! Replaced logic board; job done.

    "Bottle of wine spilled over keyboard."

    Keyboard does not necessitate data recovery. Orange juice is far worse, lager is more common.

    Seriously though, if that's all they can find to mention they can't have been very busy for the last year!!!

  25. James Butler
    Thumb Down

    Top 10?

    Wow. Not much going on in the world of data recovery, is there?

    One would expect a few more difficult things, like recovering data from the hard drive(s) of a hacker that had been USDoD wiped by a dedicated wiper upon the entry to his flat by some Federal task force ... or recovering data from the platters (all that remained) of a government laptop hard drive that had been stolen and then broken into its composite pieces by someone intent on destroying any evidence that they had obtained the unit.

    I mean ... wine on a keyboard? What's to recover?

  26. Sureo


    A company and 100 jobs at risk, and no one thought to do backups?? Keeps the data recovery companies happy, I guess.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bottle of wine on the keyboard?

    Lots of data storage in keyboards, isn't there? Or is that the joker we're supposed to wheedle out as being obviously made up?

    Anyway, I have three words to say: off, site, and backup.

  28. Nic Brough

    Is it just me

    Or is there more than a hint of BofH and PFY activity in that list?

  29. daz disley

    wtf ? smells of water ...

    still smelling of burning electrics, plastic and water from the fire service....

    they're using scented water for putting out fires these days then ?

  30. Dale

    So is this an article or an advertisement?

    Its pretty hard to tell from the way its written. Please don't take this the wrong way.......

    Stop shilling Reg. We're not as green as we are cabbage looking.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what's the story?

    Is this about the top X of jerks being too daft to destroy data? If there is enough time, you will get rid of it. You zero it what, 35? times, then you physically destroy the drive, best with a shredder, taking good care of the platters, and — if you are not the type who keeps a bucket of hydrochloric acid nearby or cannot find out how to make thermite — you then proceed to spread the remains. A trip over a halfway wide waterway should do *oops!*. All that if you have no degausser nearby, so if you KNOW you will have to nuke that drive, why not get one of those in the first place. If there's no time, well then there's no time, your bad. If you pour acid over your notebook as the cops kick down your door, you have other trouble anyway.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Bottle of wine spilled over keyboard."

    what needed recovering then ?

    the wine?

  33. James O'Brien
    Paris Hilton

    Impressive these two

    "Incriminated data pulled from the hard disc of a suspected paedophile, after the kit was thrown at arresting police"

    WTF If your a god damn kiddie fiddler WTF are you doing throing the god damn evidence of your crime AT THE FUCKING POLICE??

    "Hey John you think this computer we just got lobbed at us has pictures and videos on it? Lets find out since the suspect apparently doesnt want it"

    # Pulling data from a mobile phone that had been smashed into 11 pieces

    Now this one has me impressed, some serious reconstruction going on there.

    /Paris because even shes wondering about the first one.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    wine spilled on a keyboard

    What data is stored in a keyboard that would need recovered?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much do you pay to get adverts like this published

    Other than technical (chip and platter) recoveries some of the above are rather noddy items that I would be ashamed to consider recovery work.

    I assume if you are paying for an advert such as this, you want a "top-ten" but come on if you dont have 10 decent jobs in the past year, fillling the list with CD/DVD recovery etc does nto impress.

  36. ChrisB
    Thumb Up

    No 10 - good dog!

    10 out of 10 for good taste I say! explains why

  37. Pierre

    @David Greaves

    "A normal fully functioning drive overwritten with 0s. Not exactly hard to do."

    ???!!?? Not hard to do??? If they manage this one, even with a very powerful SEM and a few years, I pay them a beer or ten.

    Anyway, this company should probably have limited the list to 3 items (1, 2 and 7), the others make them look like clowns.

  38. kk

    I dunno

    recovering any data from a wine soaked keyboard seems pretty amazing to me.

    And if this is their top ten this only leads me to believe that there are a lot more interersting cases (say a mouse hit with a WMD) where they were infact unable to recover the data from.

  39. Anonymous Coward


    "...a lot more interersting cases (say a mouse hit with a WMD) "

    So that would be a Weapon of Mouse Destruction, then?

    ...mine's the one with pages of lame jokes shoved in the pockets.

  40. Alfazed

    Bottle of **** spilled over keyboard

    Was it your keyboard John ?

    It looks to my "data recovery expert"'s eyes, like several bottles of wine, judging by the state of your "article" today.

    Xmess excess I suppose.

    PS please buy from me too @

  41. Peyton


    The NSA can, allegedly, recover data from a hard drive that has been completely overwritten seven times, so it's not unlikely data recovery labs can do this to some extent as well. This apparently has to do with the fact that writes don't perfectly align every time, so traces remain of previous writes. This is why secure delete programs will overwrite a deleted file repeatedly with zeros, ones, and random data.

  42. no name

    Pulling data from a mobile phone that had been smashed into 11 pieces

    The data in a mobile phone are saved in a Flash memory (in very seldom case there are two on the board and/or a mobile storage device is offered) anyway - it is possible to desolder

    the Flash from the board (or piece of the board), "reball"

    and place into a socket to have access to the data with a proper interface.

    Unless the memory is broken into two pieces, i.e. the die of the memory is broken,

    it is not a problem for an average lab

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Though fire damaged, all the data was recovered..."

    How the hell did the *data* get fire-damaged? This whole article is a train-wreck.

  44. Pierre

    @ Peyton

    "The NSA can, allegedly, recover data from a hard drive that has been completely overwritten seven times, so it's not unlikely data recovery labs can do this to some extent as well. This apparently has to do with the fact that writes don't perfectly align every time, so traces remain of previous writes. This is why secure delete programs will overwrite a deleted file repeatedly with zeros, ones, and random data."

    It's mostly a legend methink. As I said, given the area density of drives these days, you'd need a very powerful SEM (scanning electron microscope) and a huge amount of time, especially as you have no way of knowing the order of the non-overlapping bits (i.e. which is older than which) so you have no idea of which bit goes with which. I strongly doubt the NSA can do that (but they wouldn't tell anyway, would they?) and I am almost 100% sure that no commercial data recovery company can either. The "overwrite 7 times" is a better-safe-than-sorry policy (similar to the "no liquid on planes" one). It does serve well as a pitch for *hem* "secure delete" software salesdroids.

  45. Pierre


    If you feed /dev/random or /dev/zero to dd, you replace all the bits with pseudo-random data or zeroes. But what happens if you use /dev/null instead? do you create billions of tightly packed tiny black holes? Can they destroy the planet? Is the NAS able to read the blackholes to retrieve your data?

  46. Pierre

    @ David Wiernicki

    "How the hell did the *data* get fire-damaged?"

    The 0s and 1s handed back to the customer were all black and smelt like burnt electrons. But they were fully functional.

  47. Pierre


    "PS please buy from me too @"

    Funny. Some guy in Lewisham needs more bandwidth now.

  48. Kanhef

    erasure methods

    You don't need fancy degaussers, just a set of Torx screwdrivers. Open the case (usually T9 screws, IIRC, a few are hidden under labels) and remove the platters from the spindle. Take one of the powerful magnets that control the motion of the armature and wipe it across the platters. That will re-align the magnetic fields nicely. Then give it a good scrubbing with #4 steel wool, which will do horrors to the platter surfaces.

    Incidentally, the platters are extremely flat and nearly perfect mirrors, which makes them useful in optics experiments. I've bounced lasers off them and been unable to see where the beam hits the surface - there's no light scattering.

  49. Steve Sherlock


    I always preferred to use /dev/urandom (although obviously this can be distro-dependant - I'm a gentoo man). /dev/random attempts to be closer to 'true' random (if there is such a thing) by seeding from mouse movement, keypresses etc. Unless the machine is being actively used it runs out of numbers pretty quickly, and even when under heavy use it's unlikely you'll be able to get enough numbers generated to overwrite even a small HDD. When it runs out of numbers your process just stalls until some new ones are generated.

  50. elderlybloke

    What a bunch

    of cynics you are on The Register. Almost as if you go by my motto.

    "You can't believe half the lies your told"

    Peace and Joy to you all.


  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    How do you think the LHC works? It's a 286 desktop with 8Mo of RAM running «dd if=/dev/null of=/dev/hda» in loop, from a bootable 5"1/4 floppy. All the site around is a recycling plant for the cardboard, styrofoam chips and bubblewrap in which the parts for the box were sent (yes, HP won the deal). The delay caused by the alleged He leak was in fact due to some dumb summer student sticking a Ready-for-Vista fridge magnet on the box to, I cite, "make it look rad". There is a heated controversy among specialists on whether the failure was due to the the magnetic field or to the computer's overwhelming shame.

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