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20 bizarre and funny ways people have broken their computers

Sometimes bad things just happen, we all know that. And sometimes they happen to our loved ones (we’re talking about our computers here).

For the last five years the data recovery company Kroll Ontrack has been publishing a yearly list of strange ways people have broken their computers and/or hard drives. We here at Pingdom have gone through those press releases and handpicked the funniest and most bizarre incidents, for your reading pleasure.

On to the list! 🙂

(We’ve saved the weirdest incident for last…)

  1. Aaaaalmost there! When you’ve managed to sail around the world, you don’t expect to capsize on the last day of your journey. However, this is exactly what happened, with a laptop on board that had been used to document the whole trip.
  2. Gone fishing, part one. A lawyer on vacation brought her laptop with her when going fishing with her father, thinking she’d be able to keep up with business at the same time. This backfired when a friend of her father’s, furious that she had brought her laptop with her on board, threw it overboard. The lawyer jumped after it.
  3. Safe in the oven. Thinking it was an ideal hiding place for his laptop while he was away on vacation, a man put his laptop in the kitchen oven to protect it from potential burglars. Unfortunately his wife came home before he did, and turned on the oven to do some cooking…
  4. Gone fishing, part two. A fisherman brought his laptop with him on his rowing boat to play some games while waiting for the fish to bite. Then he decided to stand up, and fell overboard together with his laptop.
  5. Hard drive on acid? A scientist was doing an experiment involving acid, which he (of course) managed to spill on an external hard drive. Picture the scene from Alien where the acid melts through the floor…
  6. Academia greasing incident, part one. What do you do if your hard drive is squeaking? Certainly not what this British scientist did: He drilled a hole through the casing and poured oil inside. At least the squeaking stopped, but so did the hard drive.
  7. Anti ant. A photographer in Thailand discovered that his external hard drive had gotten full of ants. His solution to this problem was to open the cover and spray the interior with insect repellent. He managed to kill both the ants and the hard drive in one fell swoop.
  8. Don’t drop a computer from a helicopter. Really. If you bring a laptop onto a helicopter, whatever you do, hold on to it tight. Employees of a global telecom firm did not heed this advice and (accidentally) dropped a laptop from a helicopter while doing work in Monaco.
  9. Want conditioner with that? If you pack your laptop together with fluids, make sure they don’t leak… On a flight from London to Warsaw a man had his shampoo leak all over the contents of his bag, including seeping into his laptop.
  10. Going bananas. A man left an old banana on top of his external hard drive. As it rotted, its contents seeped into the hard drive, ruining the circuitry.
  11. Academia greasing incident, part two. Apparently you really shouldn’t mix academics with technology, because here’s another greasing incident. A university professor was hearing a squeaking noise from the hard drive in his new desktop computer. His solution was to open the case and spray the inside of the drive with WD-40.
  12. Heavy pottery. While rearranging her office, a woman managed to drop a five pound piece of clay pottery directly onto the hard drive area of her laptop. The hard drive contained a book she’d been working on for five years. Lesson: Don’t hold heavy stuff over your laptop, especially if you don’t have backups.
  13. Hammer + laptop = bad idea. If you have a temper problem, don’t keep a hammer in the same room as your computer. Or even nearby. A frustrated writer smashed her computer with a hammer, leaving a clearly visible hammer imprint on the top cover. Gee, wonder why it broke?
  14. Creepy laptop filling. An old laptop had been stored away in a warehouse for 10 years. When it was decided that the data on it should be recovered, it turned out the whole computer was stuffed full of dead and decaying cockroaches.
  15. Flash drive? When a worker at a medical company had finally completed 1,200 customer billing entries after several days of work, lightning struck a transformer just outside the building, taking everything out, including the storage with all the prepared bills.
  16. Steel beam on laptop = not good. During the construction of a large office building, a steel beam fell right on a laptop computer (with the building plans) and crushed it.
  17. Flush away your troubles. Here’s another person with a temper problem. A man became so furious when his laptop was acting up that he threw it into the toilet and flushed repeatedly.
  18. If at first you don’t succeed, back over it. A woman put her laptop on top of her car while she got in. She forgot about it and started driving, making the laptop slide off the back of the car. She then put the car in reverse and ran the computer over. People do this with sodas and coffee mugs all the time, but with computers?
  19. More wheeled incidents. People obviously love running things over, computer equipment included. Examples include a laptop run over by a “people mover” at an airport, and a backpack with external hard drives that was backed over by a truck (ouch). But the winner has to be the following entry:
  20. Airplane destruction. The number one spot in the in the strange laptop computer destruction contest has to go to this one. Although it’s very unclear exactly how it happened, a laptop computer apparently got run over by, of all thing, an AIRPLANE.

We hope you enjoyed this list. Truly cringeworthy examples, aren’t they?

One of the most amazing things is that in most (or all?) of the cases above, the data on the storage devices could be saved.

If you want to check out the original press releases from the company, you can find them listed here (but although we’re sure they do a great job, be prepared to filter out the usual corporate hyperbole).

What about you?

Do you have any incidents or anecdotes of your own to share? Please do so in the comments!

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