Backing up User Data

As an IT Office, we'll follow the applicable procedure for data recovery presented below:

The computer won't turn on or user data can't be accessed by the customer:

Step 1. Someone from the CoSE IT Office, usually a Technician, will pick up the computer from the customer, or it is dropped off in our office.

Step 2. Basic Hardware Diagnostics are done to determine some simple questions:

        • Does the computer turn on?
        • Is the computer displaying any sort of error message, or other indication of a hardware failure?
        • Is the hard drive a spinning disk, or an SSD?
        • Is the hard drive properly connected?

Step 3: If we are unable to get the computer running properly, or if we can't access the hard drive's data:

Step 4: The hard drive enclosure will then be plugged into a computer running Ubuntu, a Linux distribution ( ), to attempt to recover data off of the hard drive.

Step 5: Next we'll open up a terminal in Linux and run the following command:

sudo fdisk -l 

This command lists every hard drive in the computer that is at the very least connected and powered on. It is a promising step if the hard drive that we need to recover data from appears after this command is ran, but it is uncertain if the data can be recovered. If the fdisk command doesn't list the hard drive, we'll make sure it's plugged in, but that almost certainly means that data won't be recoverable from the hard drive.

Step 6: If the disk is listed after the fdisk command is ran, we'll run the following command to run a diagnostic test on the state of the hard drive:

smartctl -a  /dev/sda      

smartctl is a diagnostic utility that will tell us what the status of each internal hard drive component is. This is important, because it will dictate what data recovery solution will be the best.

Step 7: If the smartctl scan comes back without any error messages, we'll utilize an SFTP client such as Filezilla, and begin recovering data off of the hard drive and backing up the data to Box to the best of our abilities. Generally, nearly all of the data on a drive can be recovered if the smartctl scan comes back without any errors, but that isn't something we can guarantee.

Step 8: If the smartctl scan comes back with errors, we'll contact the customer, and determine the prioritization of our data recovery efforts. If the customer really needs their Documents folder for instance, that is what we'll attempt to recover first and foremost. Oftentimes a failing hard drive has limited time left, and that prioritization of data recovery will help us get the greatest amount of needed data recovered in what little time is left on the device. There is no guarantee that we'll be able to recover all of the user data.

The computer will turn on, and/or user data can be accessed by our office:

Step 1. Our office will pickup the computer, or it will be dropped off in our office. Our office is the best location for data backup because it can be regularly monitored by us, and we'll have access to our office tools.

Step 2. If the hard drive's computer turns on and appears to be running without any problems:

We'll turn on the computer, and backup the files to Box via a program called Filezilla ( Unless told otherwise by the customer, we'll only backup the customer's Desktop and Documents folders.

If there are multiple user accounts on the hard drive, then we'll backup the Documents and Desktop folders on all of the user Desktop and Document folders.

Filezilla allows us to backup 10 files to Box at a time, but the backup process often still takes a few days. The more data the customer needs us to backup, the longer it will take. Unfortunately, Filezilla isn't a perfect system, and there usually are files that won't backed up. For instance, if we need to backup 800,000 files, 150,000 or so files could potentially not be backed up.

These files can't transfer for a number of reasons:

    • The file path is too long for Filezilla to transfer to Box: /this/folder/path/is/much/too/long/for/box/to/be/able/to/handle
    • The file type is not supported: .shk , .pea, .ace
    • The file is a system file of some sort.

If you're concerned that these files are of importance to you, you are welcome to bring an external hard drive to us, and we can transfer your files to that device. Alternatively, we have an external drive in our office that we can copy the files to, but then we'll have to copy those files onto your computer or other device.

Step 3. If that hard drive's computer won't turn on, or the computer appears to be experiencing problems:

    • We'll extract the hard drive from the computer, plug it into an external USB hard drive enclosure, and use one of our office's work computer to transfer the data to Filezilla.
    • We won't store a local copy of the customer's data unless there are extreme circumstances that warrant it.
        • If we believe that the customer's hard drive is failing, then we'll create a local copy of the data.
    • We'll use Filezilla for the transfer, so all of the information from Step 2 about Filezilla, applies here as well.