Are they all going to make fun of me?
July 23, 2006 12:37 PM   Subscribe

So it looks like my iMac G5 hard drive died some time this afternoon while the computer was on and I was not in front of it. Great! I'm still covered by warranty, so there's that. BUT. When the hard drive died... I, err, may have been in the process of downloading porn through BitTorrent. (Nothing illegal, but y'know, it's porn.) Obviously I have to bring this computer in for repair, and will probably have to give the HD to some kind of data-recovery service, and so when some techno-wizard hopefully gets things going again, there that porn file will be, sitting right out on my desktop. This happens all the time, right? Are they going to be scandalized? (I am in NYC, so my guess is no, but...) What level of humiliation or other problems am I looking at here?

And please, don't ask me about my data backup. I don't really have one. I know. Shut up.
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)

The torrent file will be unusable until it's complete. What you will have is a file name. What you will probably get is a reformatted hard drive and then the files that came off of the old drive. The file you were downloading will be there in name only. Delete it. As for the rest of your collection, the data recovery folks could care less.
posted by ptm at 12:52 PM on July 23, 2006

If they make fun of you, it'll be about needing to backup your data, not your downloads.
posted by Zonker at 12:55 PM on July 23, 2006

They deal with this all the time. You have nothing to worry about. No one will mention a thing. They all have porn on their machines, too.
posted by Captaintripps at 12:55 PM on July 23, 2006

This happens all the time, right?


What level of I looking at here?

Most likely, you'll have to come to terms with the fact that a person you'll never meet will see some porn you looked at. It's not much different from the fact that, when you download porn, the host can see your IP address. In both cases, someone you'll never meet knows that [your IP address]/[your name] is viewing this porn.

In other words: No, this isn't something to worry about.
posted by cribcage at 12:56 PM on July 23, 2006

I agree that this is unlikely to get anyone's attention.

If it would make you feel better, you might ask the data recovery vendor to include a confidentiality provision in the service agreement. The agreement might even include one already, given that these vendors often do a lot of work for companies that want to protect sensitive business information.
posted by brain_drain at 1:23 PM on July 23, 2006

1. Since you're covered by warranty, the person who services the computer will most likely be some anonymous tech in some giant center somewhere far away, who as cribcage says, you'll never meet.

2. Is data recovery even included in the warranty? Assuming when you say your HD died, it really died, that shit will be very expensive. It would be a nice surprise if Apple hadn't come up with some way to write that out of the warranty.
posted by epugachev at 1:24 PM on July 23, 2006

Take it to Tekserve on 23rd (?). They're far to busy to be concerned, but even if they are, the staff is more or less college age and predominantly male. They're not likely to care, I think.

I'd be much more concerned about any financial info on the harddrive, but then again those guys are very trustworthy so I think you'd be just fine in that respect too.

And you never know - you may be just as lucky as I was 6 months ago when my HD died and was simply unrepairable. No info at all could be recovered by Tekserve or the other folks I tried...
posted by blaneyphoto at 1:24 PM on July 23, 2006

I'd be more worried about your credit card numbers, social security number, passwords, and other information that could be used for identity theft by the people fixing your drive.
posted by about_time at 1:41 PM on July 23, 2006

You'd be amazed how many people bring their computer into major retail computer repair places and proceed to boot up the machine right at the counter complete with blatantly pornographic desktop backgrounds, to say nothing of files sitting on the desktop. They've seen it all (and then some) before. Probably won't even be worth a mention in the break room at lunch.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:44 PM on July 23, 2006

A gentle once brought me his laptop to look at - I don't even remember what the problem was - but when I opened it, it woke up and there were three or four gay porn websites open. I didn't say anything, just closed the browser, continued our conversation normally, and fixed his problem.

Mine is not to judge, mine is to fix.
posted by ArsncHeart at 1:45 PM on July 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

I used to work at a PC store and there was a service department. And sometimes the repair guys would look through the hard drives. These guys (and us sales guys) were internet veterans. It would take goatse/tubgirl/donkey-show level weirdness to get even a raised eyebrow from this bunch. I imagine the guys at this company are the same.
posted by jonmc at 2:22 PM on July 23, 2006

Maybe redundant, but here's yet another vote for "won't even cause a raised eyebrow". You'll be fine.
posted by teleskiving at 2:54 PM on July 23, 2006

It's porn, big deal --- as long as it's not illegal porn, you're fine.
posted by nathan_teske at 3:25 PM on July 23, 2006

Yeah, you should be fine.

Now, if the desktop picture is your three-year-old splashing in the bathtub, expect the FBI and DCF on your doorstep in 24 hours...
posted by baylink at 3:50 PM on July 23, 2006

As a former tech. here's what to do, and to expect. If you truly believe the drive is hosed then you should try to reformat it. Tiger has a secure wipe reformat. But then if you can access the drive to reformat it you may be able to access the drive to recover data. Drive 10 is a really good (but slow) utility that will recreate a directory on a damaged drive (sometimes).
If you bring it to Apple under warranty they will run the Apple diagnostics, and Tech tool Pro only. They aren't allowed to use other tools. If the drive is kaput they will replace the drive. It is cheaper for them than to spend several hours attempting to recover data. In my expereince if the drive comes up (boots), I will make sure it has an up to date OS and probably not even have the time to look at any other data.
posted by Gungho at 7:43 PM on July 23, 2006

Totally nothing data recovery places haven't seen before. They almost all have confidentiality policies in place for this very thing. I think they're obligated to report kiddie porn if they spot it, but generally they won't give your smut a second glance.
posted by SilverTail at 9:54 PM on July 23, 2006

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