Fake restoration videos

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They sure have a rather disturbing obsession with mud.
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Fake restoration videos are a type of clickbait scam and a bizarre phenomenon on YouTube where content farms purport to scavenge discarded devices and restore them in the most dramatic way possible. Most if not all of these videos originate from Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam or Thailand, as evidenced by references to brands known to those countries.

Modus operandi[edit]

A typical "restoration" video would begin by showing footage of the "restorer" stopping by at a garbage dump and "conveniently" stumbling upon the device in question, which would be depicted in a disused if not completely derelict state.[1] The "restorer" would then take the device to their workshop and proceed with the "restoration", usually involving improper tools and/or methods such as soaking the power supply, hard drive and other components in soapy water,[2] making phony gestures with a multimeter and open up the hard drive,[note 1] among other things. Not to mention that the devices being "restored" are often if not always deliberately soaked in mud[3] and damaged to the point of being either beyond repair or not worth repairing in an economical sense (i.e. the cost of parts is way more than the device to be restored, unless if the restoration is absolutely needed, such as in cases of recovering data from an old cellphone).

Another dead giveaway is the state of the item shown in the video: if the item in question is encrusted with rust despite being made of a material that isn't easily susceptible to it, such as stainless steel or plastic, this is most likely a fake.[4]



These videos, considering their dramatic nature and emotional appeal, rack up millions of views and subscribers, usually from tech-illiterate people who should have known better, not realising that these charlatans have been playing on their curiosity to peddle nonsense and thus earn ad revenue from doing so. In a way, this can be compared to the earlier Elsagate phenomenon where bizarre if not outright creepy videos featuring popular children's characters (such as those from Disney where the videos are mostly derived from) in age-inappropriate situations have somehow attracted hundreds of millions of views, usually from snotty little children who unwittingly fall for them.

As mentioned in the above section, any experienced tinkerer can tell from the videos how factually wrong the videos are, and how they're manufactured more to appeal to emotion than to actually inform people on how to properly service a particular device, not to mention that the crude depiction of a derelict object certainly makes The Anarchist CookbookWikipedia read like a definitive manual for would-be terrorists. The prevalence of these videos may have the consequence of legitimate repair channels being drowned out by their charlatan counterparts as a result of their virality. While there have been video exposés ridiculing if not outright denouncing these "restorer" charlatans, the fact that no action is made to penalise such deceptive content is a reflection of the sad state of YouTube affairs, where legitimate discourse (e.g. the use of swastikas and mention of sensitive topics in an educational context) is unfairly censored yet clickbait and other forms of deceit get away with such impunity.

Reaction from legitimate tech YouTubers[edit]

Unsurprisingly, it didn't take long for established YouTube channels to react and be bemused if not outright insulted by unscrupulous shysters who use the same "picked up in the trash" formula over and over, such as in the case of Jersey-based tech YouTuber Elliot Coll, who runs a popular retro video game channel The Retro Future. Coll made two analyses of the videos in question, where a certain fake restoration channel purportedly restored a Game Boy Advance and a knockoff Nintendo Switch Lite-esque device, much to Elliot's confusion and dismay.[5][6] He even went so far as to making a satirical video where he does the same dubious practices to make a point about how deceptive and reckless these charlatans are with their viewers.[7] Backyard Ballistics went into depth the differences between "strong" and "mild" fake gun restorations after being accused of making fake restoration videos themselves.[8]


  • JaiPhone - Has done some actual restorations on smartphones, but is also notorious for restoration clickbait.
  • Restoration T - D - Whatever mud and rust fetish they have with the objects they "restore".
  • Restoration EG - Filthy video game consoles.
  • Primitive Technology - Not a restoration channel in a strict sense, but its modus operandi is similar and has been cited as a high-profile example


  1. We all know that taking the lid off a mechanical hard drive in a non-sterile environment, i.e. anywhere that isn't a clean room, will outright destroy it due to specks of dust landing on the surface.