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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 December 2005, 08:56 GMT
Data disasters dog computer users
Dog chewing USB memory stick, OnTrack
Computer owners, and their pets, find lots of ways to damage data
Dozy dads and art accidents feature in an annual list of top 10 data disasters compiled by computer experts.

One incident involved a dog that used a USB flash drive as a chew toy and almost ate all its owner's data.

Also featured is a PC enthusiast who turned his hard drive into a box of spare parts when he tried to recover data himself.

But top of the list is an old laptop containing key company data that was found filled with cockroach corpses.

Loss leader

The list was compiled by data recovery firm OnTrack which handles more than 100,000 requests a year for help to piece together information from damaged computer hardware.

Among the people contacting the company in 2005 was a dad who accidentally deleted all the digital images of his new-born child.

Another customer managed to smash the hard drive on her laptop by dropping heavy pottery on the machine.

She was keen to recover the data because it included a book she had been working on for five years and copies of old family photos that had yet to be printed.

The company was also called in to help one customer who tried to recover the data from a damaged hard drive all by himself and in the process reduced the hardware to a pile of parts.

Also in need of help were the scouts for a professional baseball team who lost all their data about prospects and training regimes when their laptops got damaged while they were travelling.

But the data disaster at the top of the list, for its yuck factor if nothing else, is the story of the company that unearthed a laptop that had lain unused in a warehouse for almost a decade.

The laptop was needed because it was thought to hold valuable company information. When it was opened to get at the hard drive, it was found to be heaving with the husks of dead and decaying cockroaches.

Adrian Palmer, managing director of OnTrack in the UK, said in most cases damaged data can be recovered in its entirety, but he urged computer users to regularly back-up important information.

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