Evidence Promoting Good Data Management » History » Version 23

« Previous - Version 23/89 (diff) - Next » - Current version
Steve Welburn, 2012-11-12 02:13 PM

Evidence Promoting Good Data Management

If you have any additional examples that you would like to share, please email them to: rdm.c4dm at gmail.com

Anecdotal Tales Of Lost Data

Recovery of Overwritten Hard Disk Data

5 October 2005 Linux Forums - http://tinyurl.com/8t7uaop

Hi, a friend of mine just overwrote two months of her
PhD thesis with an older version. I know recovery of
overwritten data is possible, but wonder if I'd need
special hardware to do it. Does anyone know something
about this ?

Thank You.

Stolen laptop had PhD research

19 March 2008 Surrey Leader - http://tinyurl.com/9hmtlv4

Thirty-fve minutes spent in Langley’s Willowbrook
Shopping Centre cost a Surrey woman much more than
she had anticipated.

Langley RCMP say that while she was shopping from
1-1:35 p.m. last Monday, someone broke into her
vehicle and stole a number of items, including
a Mac iBook laptop containing the research she had 
compiled as she worked towards her PhD.

“All that information was on that computer and she has no back-up
file,” said Langley RCMP spokesman Cpl. Brenda Marshall.

Happiness is the return of a stolen computer, with data intact

27 May 2010 The Press, NZ - http://tinyurl.com/38sznnh

Never has a man been so happy to see a computer full of data

Claudio De Sassi's world fell apart when a car containing almost three
years work towards his PhD was stolen two weeks ago.
De Sassi, a Canterbury University academic, could not hide his joy
yesterday as police reunited him with his stolen laptop and backpack.

Thugs steal Christmas, doctoral dreams

22 December 2010 KRQE - http://tinyurl.com/9a5j56f

A tiny television sits where a big screen used to, and a Christmas tree
stands with little underneath it...

Even worse than the gifts, the crooks stole a MacBook Pro laptop and a
LaCie hard drive.

The hard drive had … her dissertation and nearly seven years of
research for her doctoral degree she was set to fnish in a few weeks.
Osuna had everything backed up on a separate hard drive in a safe, but
burglars made off with that too.

"All I could think about is that all that time is gone, all that effort,
everything is gone," Osuna said.

Laptop Stolen From OSU Doctoral Student

NBC4i January 06 2011 - http://tinyurl.com/bmybv9x

...her car was broken into and her chrome Mac book pro was stolen.
She has a back-up for all but the last six months of research, but the
most important part of the research had happened recently.

The Lost Laptop Problem

  • 2010 Ponemon Institute report for Intel re. US laptops
    • On average, 2.3% of laptops assigned to employees are lost each year
    • In education & research that rises to 3.7%, with 10.8% of laptops being lost before the end of their useful life (~3 years i.e. within 1 PhD of allocation!
    • 75% lost outside the workplace
  • Very similar results from 2011 European report!

Intel 2010 - http://tinyurl.com/8c9m4bn

Laptop Reliability

  • 2011 PC World Laptop Reliability Survey from 63,000 readers:
    • 22.6% had signifcant problems during the product's lifetime
    • Of which...
      • 19% had OS problems ~1 in 25 of all laptops
      • 18% had HDD problems ~1 in 25 of all laptops
      • 10% PSU problems ~1 in 50 of all laptops

PC World 2011 - http://tinyurl.com/876qza5

Hard Disk Failures

  • Failure Trends In A Large Disk Drive Population
    • Usenix conference on File and Storage Technologies 2007 (FAST '07)
    • Eduardo Pinheiro & Wolf-Dietrich Weber, Google Inc.
  • Data collected from over 100,000 disk drives at Google
  • As part of repairs procedures:
    • ~13% of disk drives replaced over 3 years
    • ~20% of disk drives replaced over 4 years

Article: http://tinyurl.com/octz6b

Data management in the cloud

See JISC/DCC document "Curation In The Cloud" - http://tinyurl.com/8nogtmv

Service agreements may give wide-ranging rights to the data service.

Google Terms Of Service

1 March 2012 Google Terms of Service : http://tinyurl.com/89dc9fa

When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give
Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store,
reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from
translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your
content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly
perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you
grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting,
and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license
continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a
business listing you have added to Google Maps).

Microsoft Services Agreement

19 October 2012 Microsoft services agreement : http://tinyurl.com/8e4kucy

When you upload your content to the services, you agree that it may
be used, modifed, adapted, saved, reproduced, distributed, and
displayed to the extent necessary to protect you and to provide, protect
and improve Microsoft products and services. For example, we may
occasionally use automated means to isolate information from email,
chats, or photos in order to help detect and protect against spam and
malware, or to improve the services with new features that makes them
easier to use. When processing your content, Microsoft takes steps to
help preserve your privacy.

Archiving Data

BBC Domesday Project

1986 Project to do a modern-day Domesday book (early crowd-sourcing)
  • Used “BBC Master” computers with data on laserdisc
  • Collected 147,819 pages of text and 23,225 photos
  • Media expiring and obsolete technology put the data at risk!
Domesday Reloaded (2011) To allow long-term access to data
  • Don't use obscure formats!
  • Don't use obscure media!
  • Don't rely on technology being available!
  • Do keep original source material!

Google images for BBC Domesday

Related Media

Disk Drives Break

DataCent collection of disk drive failure sounds

Buildings burn down

Southampton University Mountbatten Building Fire

Laptops Break / Get Broken


Ponemon reports for Intel on the "Lost Laptop problem" ~10% of Education and Research laptops are lost during their lifetime.

PC World study on laptop failure rates: 20-30% of laptops with a significant failure

Failure Trends In A Large Disk Drive Population

Identified ~13% of hard drives being replaced over 3 years, 20% over 4 years as a result of a repair being required!

FAST '07 paper on Failure Trends In A Large Disk Drive Population

Google report on over 100,000 consumer-grade disk drives from 80-400 GB produced in or after 2001 and used within Google. Data collected December 2005 - August 2006. Disk drives had a burn-in process and only those that were commissioned for use were included in the study - certain basic defects may well be excluded from this report. Also, discs were largely use in servers resulting in (relatively) large hours used relative to desktop / laptop computers.

the most accurate definition we can present of a failure event for our study is: a drive is considered to have failed if it was replaced as part of a repairs procedure. Note that this definition implicitly excludes drives that were replaced due to an upgrade.

~3% in first 3 months, ~2% up to 1 year, ~8% 2 years, ~9% 3 years, ~6% 4 years, ~7% 5 years

NB: Variation with model and manufacturer!

In the first 6 months, the risk of failure is highest for low & high utilisation!
  • ~10% for high utilisation in the first 3 months
  • for 3-year old drives ~4-5% chance of failure whatever the utilisation
  • failures are most likely at low drive temperatures (on start-up ?) i.e. < 25 deg. C
  • drives over 2 years old are most likely to fail at high temperatures (could be mode of failure ?)
Disks with SMART scan errors are 10 times more likely to fail - almost 30% of drives with a SMART scan error failed within 8 months of the error.
  • If a drive up to 8 months old gets a scan error, there's a 90% chance of it surviving at least 8 months
  • If a drive over 2 years old gets a scan error, there's a 60% chance of it surviving at least 8 months
  • If you have more than 1 scan error on a drive, it's significantly less likely to survive
  • Similar for SMART reallocation counts AFR almost 20% if reallocation occurs in first 3 months
  • ...but over 36% of failed drives had zero counts on all variables

Talagala and Patterson [20] perform a detailed error analysis of 368 SCSI disk drives over an eighteen month period, reporting a failure rate of 1.9%. Results on a larger number of desktop-class ATA drives under deployment at the Internet Archive are presented by Schwarz et al [17]. They report on a 2% failure rate for a population of 2489 disks during 2005, while mentioning that replacement rates have been as high as 6% in the past. Gray and van Ingen [9] cite observed failure rates ranging from 3.3-6% in two large web properties with 22,400 and 15,805 disks respectively. A recent study by Schroeder and Gibson [16] helps shed light into the statistical properties of disk drive failures. The study uses failure data from several large scale deployments, including a large number of SATA drives. They report a significant overestimation of mean time to failure by manufacturers and a lack of infant mortality effects. None of these user studies have attempted to correlate failures with SMART parameters or other environmental factors.

Hard drive manufacturers often quote yearly failure rates below 2% [2]
User studies have seen rates as high as 6% [9]

Between 15-60% of drives returned to manufacturers having been considered to have failed by users have no defect as far as the manufacturers are concerned [7]
Between 20-30% “no problem found” cases were observed after analyzing failed drives from a study of 3477 disks [11]

Failure rates are known to be highly correlated with drive models, manufacturers and vintages [18].

Sharing Detailed Research Data Is Associated with Increased Citation Rate


Gleditsch, N.P., C. Metelits and H. Strand. 2003. Posting your data: Will you be scooped or will you be famous?.

Int. Stud. Perspect. 4:89–97.

Freckleton, R.P., P. Hulme, P. Giller and G. Kerby. 2005. The changing face of applied ecology.

J. Appl. Ecol. 42:1–3.

Lessons from the JMCB Archive