I have watched Prison Break like five times and every time this question pops up in my mind.

Michael was a smart structural engineer with low latent inhibition and high IQ that made him keen observant of surroundings and details of his work of interest. Like the tattoo he made and of course the whole plan.

In season 2 episode 1 Alex Mahone, an FBI agent who is portrayed as being equally as smart as Michael, guesses (which is very least probable) that he might have thrown some evidence in the river (a hard disk).

If Michael wanted to erase the evidence, he could just erase the disk in minutes. But why didn't he think of destroying the hard disk of his computer instead of throwing it into the river?

2 Answers 2


The "Prison Break: The Classified FBI Files - Official Companion Book" reports that recovery of the data on the disk was actually highly problematical, but ultimately succeeded due to the cleverness of law enforcement.

Since spending millions of dollars dredging the river is massive investigative overkill, even for the crime committed. I think we can reasonably assume that Michael simply felt that throwing the hard drive into the river would be sufficient to dispose of it forever. He obviously didn't bank on the involvement of the FBI or the resources they were willing to bring to bear:

A search of Scofield's home revealed no additional clues to the fugitive's plans. However, one wall was filled with holes that seemed to have been made by dozens of push pins. Mahone concluded that Scofield had made extensive plans for the escape prior to his incarceration and then designed them into the tattoo. Since Scofield's home was close to the Chicago River, Mahone ordered that the river be dredged, suspecting that it was a prime location for Scofield to have dumped the evidence. A hard drive was recovered from the river, and the serial numbers matched an order that Scofield had placed with Dell a few months before he was incarcerated. Files found on the hard drive revealed additional information important to the investigation, as detailed elsewhere. It took some time to recover all the data.

Note also that the serial numbers (and the make of the drive) would probably have been sufficient to provide a circumstantial conviction even had he drilled or microwaved the HDD to remove the data.

It's also worth pointing out that (in the real world), unless one is willing to invest a very considerable amount of resources, a hard disk that is submerged for even a few minutes is largely unreadable and one that is submerged for 6 or more months is generally (but not always) considered to be beyond any sort of repair.

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    Or might be he was in a hurry. Well I think no one else will show up to answer this plot. And I cannot think of exaggerating this plot further. So I will mark it as solved. BTW how couldn't you don't have a gold badge ?
    – user30432
    Jan 28, 2016 at 23:57

When we earse an hard disk the data is not completely gone, it can be recovered and Micheal knew this hence if you their it chances are it will break when it hits the ground and easier logging inside electronic gadgets is never good hence he decides to do this, personally I feel that scene is a bit over rated cause it's a river filled with flowing water and this should cause the hard disk to end up in a long place away from his apartment

  • He could had even burned it to the ashes but then how was Mahone supposed to get a trail ! Yea there are some glitches in the show but apart from that it's a great show. Waiting for Season 5 in 2016.
    – user30432
    Jan 30, 2016 at 8:13
  • @noob - Burning it would have been ineffective. The FBI would still have been able to confirm the make and model and possibly get the serial number (which would have been enough to convict him). Short of melting it down, an HDD is well-nigh impossible to actually destroy.
    – user7812
    Jan 30, 2016 at 14:23
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    Convict him of what ? He was already a convict. But I think throwing HDD into river and Mahone picking that trail up and finding that he is up to Charles's money was the necessary for the story.
    – user30432
    Jan 30, 2016 at 14:48

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