Henry's Oath of Data Recovery - Story Time

So this is one I dug up today, after someone mentioned the Hypocratic oath on discord and about having something like it for engineers and knowledge workers.

So story time: I used to for a short time work in data recovery at this smallish data recovery lab. Team of 8, but doing really challenging forensic recovery.

Now at least as I and many others where told; Before I started there was this mythical guy Henry, he did the most challenging recoveries, read traces of magnetism off sectors others had given up on. Found bits of evidence nobody even considered looking for.

Well apparently over time and at first in a humorous style he created this “Unspoken Oath of Data Recovery” it was never meant as a serious thing. Just quickly adapted from the Hypocratic oath with some phrases changed. And he would every day randomly recite parts of it to others when walking from the back of the shop to the front when collecting a new drive from the intake queue.

Well he did it so often, everyone came to know it and would tease him about it, not least the ‘Unspoken’ part.

But unfortunately Henry was not the healthiest chap and one day unfortunately the time came where his data could not be recovered.

The thing is though, his Oath stuck around and become part of the company tradition. Every new hire would learn it and recite it after their probation was over.

It is perhaps a little outdated in some small ways, but the core of it is what’s important.

I thought I’d share it here at least for Henry’s sake and perhaps it may resonate with some of you too.

Henry’s ‘Unspoken’ Oath of Data Recovery

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those in whose steps I walk and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of society, all measures which are required, avoiding data nihilism. (All data is important to the customer, we are not to judge what is and is not)

I will remember that there is art to data recovery as well as science, and that consistency, candor and compassion may outweigh the technicians tools or the parts at his disposal.

I will not be ashamed to say, “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for solving a problem.

I will respect the privacy of my subjects data, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know, so I will tread with care in matters of privacy and security. If it is given to me to save life with my analyses, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to do harm and this responsibility must be faced with humbleness and awareness of my own limitations.

I will remember that I do not merely treat a damaged platter or a stuck head, but the data of one or many persons, the loss of which may affect the person, their family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the data. I will prevent data loss whenever I can, for backups are preferable to recovery.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those who need help and those who don’t.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy vitality and virtuosity, respected for my contributions and remembered for my leadership thereafter. May I always act to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of helping those who seek my help.

I did not know Henry personally and yet writing this brought tears to my eyes. I only got to know him through his legacy and the knowledge that he left behind with his peers and through them me.
I also did not disclose his surname, for that is how we know he would have wanted it and as much as that pains me, I will respect that.




Thank you for sharing this story with us.

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This did not just bring a tear to your eye, but also mine.