I'm in IT and I've repeatedly heard stories of a server that was left stuck in a space that had a wall built in front of it, and was only discovered years later when the wall was torn down.

This 2001 article from The Register gives an example of such a claim:

According to a report by Techweb it was only then that those campus techies realised they couldn't find the server. Attempts to follow network cabling to find the missing box led to the discovery that maintenance workers had sealed the server behind a wall.

In one variety of the story, a fan starts to squeak and someone punches a hole in the wall to discover it.

I'm skeptical due to the fact that heat that would build up in a wall would fry the server.

Has a server (or servers) been walled in and discovered, still running, years later?

  • 3
    This needs a notable claim in order to be on topic: "I've repeatedly heard stories" doesn't suffice. Note that "server" could mean many different things; some machines acting as servers might dissipate just a few watts. It'd be a fun back-of-the-envelope computation to look up the R-value of drywall and figure out how much wall area you would need to dissipate how much power with how much of a temperature rise. Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 23:00
  • 1
    @NateEldredge Added a citation, would that suffice?
    – Citizen
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 0:08
  • Dead End: The Techweb link for the story is now broken, and not in the Wayback Machine.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 1:01
  • 1
    @Oddthinking Yes, The original link worked for me and has always worked. I indicated that in my first reply to your first comment. It has always worked for me.
    – Citizen
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 4:30
  • 1
    @fredsbend - Not at all unusual when old buildings are "remodeled" several times in a row. Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 20:45

1 Answer 1


The Register article was most likely a feed from this very brief and unsourced InformationWeek article, dated two days before the article in The Register.

The story has the ring of urban legend to it. People who work behind the scenes have sometimes gruesome stories about lost equipment, lost machinery, and even lost people showing up years after the fact.

This particular story is almost certainly an urban legend since Judson Knott, director of Academic Computing Systems at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill disavowed the story a little over a month after it first appeared.

"I believe that this is what is commonly known as an urban legend. If it were a true story and Server 54 belonged to my organization, I would identify and fire the system administrator responsible for losing a server for four years. We run a first-class IT operation here in Chapel Hill and it is embarrassing to be associated with this kind of story."

  • As can be seen by the quoted text, the source for The Register article was TechWeb, not InfoWeek. It is worth noting that the disavowal was not issued by UNC, but by Sun Microsystems, which explains the rather stilted plug.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 4:03
  • 2
    @Oddthinking -- TechWeb and InfoWeek are now one and the same. Trying going to www.techweb.com. It redirects to informationweek.com. Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 5:01
  • Note that, in the (somewhat different) account I heard, the equipment was not "lost", since it was still functioning just fine. It's just that no one knew where it was. Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 20:47
  • Please don't change "have sometimes gruesome stories" to "sometimes have gruesome stories". They stories exist of lost equipment, machinery, and even people exist. (Whether they're true or not is a different question.) The stories of missing people can be gruesome, but not so much the stories of the lost equipment. I'll accept "have sometimes-gruesome stories" (i.e., hyphenated) if the community thinks that that is an improvement, but "sometimes have gruesome stories" is a disimprovement. Commented Dec 28, 2018 at 17:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .