High-speed drive-bys, spilled drinks and shootouts are among a handful of excuses people use for losing valuable data from their laptops, according to the experts.

A quirky report commissioned by data recovery firm Kroll Ontrack shows some of the more mysterious and unlikely mishaps which have occurred to its customers.

In one case a financial director dropped his laptop in the bath while finishing off his accounts ? at least that's his story. An American user became so frustrated with his laptop that he shot it with a gun.

One extremely unfortunate customer dropped his laptop while riding a moped. The machine met its end as it fell into the path of an oncoming lorry.

The lesson to be learned, according to Ontrack's managing director Adrian Palmer, is back up.

"Individuals can save themselves a lot of heartache by backing up regularly
and being a bit more careful in the first place," said Palmer.

Recognising the danger of dropping and damaging laptops, computer giant IBM last week announced details of its laptop airbag system designed to protect against data loss.