Melted hard drive saved space data

Pax Arcana

Here’s one for anyone who has ever accidentally set his laptop on fire.

Just me?

When the space shuttle Discover blew up on re-entry in 2003, pieces of the wreck were scattered across a long swath of Texas prairie land. Actually I have no idea if it was prairie land — that just seems to go with the whole Texas thing.

Among the debris recovered was a hard drive that had been melted into a metallic mass by the blazing hot gases of the explosion. On the drive was data collected by the astronauts on an experiment on liquid xenon. Much of the data had been radioed back to earth before the fatal wreck, but the experiment could not be completed without the remainder.

That’s where Minnesota-based Kroll Ontrack comes in. The data recovery specialists were able to locate the metal platters inside the melted husk. The platters had been damaged, but were not warped. After building a new drive apparatus to spin the platters, Kroll Ontrack was able to recover about 99% of the data kept inside.

Here’s the best part:

They had been gouged and pitted, but the 340-megabyte drive was only half full, and the damage happened where data had not yet been written.

Edwards attributes that to a lucky twist: The computer was running an ancient operating system, DOS, which does not scatter data all over drives as other approaches do.

Sadly, Kroll Ontrack rendered much of the DOS data worthless when it accidentally ran C:\>deltree instead of C:\>fdisk. GEEKS IN THE HOUSE SAY HEYOOHHHHH!!!! High five!

Data from Columbia disk drives survived the shuttle accident [AP]

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1 Comment

Filed under science

One response to “Melted hard drive saved space data

  1. Perry Ellis

    OK, so it’s totally unfair to drop a huge hint like that and not make with the story. What gives with the setting afire of the laptop? We demand answers.

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