Often insurers want detailed information on the systems you had before they’ll pay out. But what if you didn't keep good equipment records or lost what you had?
If this is the case, others may have kept this information for you. If you know the vendor you purchased your technology from, it may be able to provide you with copies of your receipts, which would normally include hardware and software specifications. Larger vendors and vendors in unaffected areas are most likely to have access to this kind of information, but try other vendors as well.
If your technology was paid for by a funder, you may have provided them with receipts or other purchase details. Ask for copies of your grant reports, which may detail the information you need for insurance claims.
If all this fails, do not panic! Your insurer is likely to be flexible. Talk to your agent about the insurance provider needs from you in the absence of a full inventory. In the meantime, put together the information you can remember on a form like the one we've included in Chapter 9: Post-Disaster Operations Analysis (Page 65).
Chapter 7: Tips for Reviving Broken Computers
If you have access to your backups, and have practiced for a disaster recovery, your restore procedure should have been in place. However, if you cannot access your backup, or don’t have one, it is still worth trying a couple of these tips before declaring a computer dead. Computers are more resilient than most people realize, and though a computer may not be in a usable condition, you may be able to recover critical data from it.
Some of the tips below have been gleaned from real-life experiences published on TechRepublic.com, a resources site dedicated to IT professionals. Some are last-resort actions not recommended by manufacturers. Though we offer them here to provide ideas, we cannot guarantee their effectiveness. We have also provided information from Microsoft.com on Windows XP recovery, for those who do not have access to the Internet.
You do not feel technically qualified to follow the advice.
General Data-Recovery Tips
The following information can help in your data-recovery efforts:
Look for the name, type, and, model number of your computer anywhere on the case.
Try to find the recovery discs for the operating system (or at least remember which version you were running).
Don’t forget warranties and manufacturer support. Call the manufacturer to see if they can help fix your computer.
Real-Life Data Recovery Tips
These data-recovery tips were posted to Techrepublic.com by members.
Warning Wait until your computer is completely dry before attempting any of these steps.
The following tips assume you can see some sort of electrical connection when you plug in your computer. As soon as you have a functional drive up and running, ensure that you immediately make a backup onto another type of media. A good media is either a USB-connected external drive or flash drive. Flash drives would probably be a good idea anyway so you can share common files easily prior to restoring your network.
Let’s take a look at the hard drive itself. Is it plugged in properly? Loose cables are the most common problem in a case like this. If it is plugged in properly, try to boot the computer again after checking the connections. Sometimes a connector can come loose a bit on one side.
Next, does the hard drive spin when you turn the computer on? If it doesn't, check the power cable to the drive. If that is fine, tap the drive lightly on the side to see if it spins. (If it does, back it up and order a new drive immediately!) I encountered a drive that acted like this a year ago. If you kept tapping it, it kept spinning. So, for three hours, I sat there tapping this drive until I got all the company's accounting data off of it. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices for your customers.
If the drive is spinning and the cables are properly seated, check the "Detect IDE Hard drives" in the BIOS. To access the BIOS, press “F2” or “DEL” when the system boots (it depends on the vendor), but it may also say upon boot “Press X to access the BIOS menu”. For some reason, on some of the older motherboards, it will pick up a drive that "AUTO" won't pick up.
If this drive isn't spinning up, putting it in the freezer (sealed in a plastic bag to protect it from moisture) for about an hour will usually get the drive spinning again so you can copy needed files before the drive warms up again.
Sometimes, a hard drive that has been running forever won't spin after being shut down for a while. The cause of this can be the heads sticking to the platter. As a LAST resort, try dropping the drive onto a firm surface from approximately eight inches.
Microsoft XP Disaster Recovery Tools
Software and hardware issues can affect the way that your system functions. Severe problems might prevent you from starting Windows XP Professional normally. For example:
Installing incompatible software, incorrectly changing system configuration settings, or installing faulty device drivers can cause system instability or a Stop error.
Hardware that is defective, malfunctioning, incorrectly installed, or incorrectly configured can also cause instability or a Stop error.
Deleted or corrupted system files caused by problems such as user error or virus activity can cause data loss or prevent you from starting the operating system.
Any of these issues can prevent you from starting Windows XP Professional normally, causing certain applications or data to become inaccessible. Windows XP Professional provides several tools that enable you to troubleshoot startup and stability problems and restore system and data files.
The table below lists some of these tools according to the preferred order of use, from those that present little or no risk to data, to those that might cause data loss. With the exception of Windows' Automated System Recovery (ASR) restore phase, Last Known Good Configuration, and Recovery Console, the features in the table are available in safe and normal startup modes. If the following tools and features do not resolve the problem, and you upgraded your system from an earlier version of Windows, you might have the option to uninstall Windows XP Professional.
With many of these tools, you may need to start Windows in safe mode. Safe mode helps you diagnose problems. It starts the computer with only essential files and services loaded, which cuts out a lot of the issues that can cause a complicated, modern computer to break. If a symptom does not reappear when you start in safe mode, you can eliminate the default settings and minimum device drivers as possible causes. If a newly added device or a changed driver is causing problems, you can use safe mode to remove the device or reverse the change.
To start in safe mode:
Restart the computer.
As it boots, press F8.
Use the arrow keys to highlight “Safe mode.”
You can also use the same steps to go back to the Last Known Good Configuration (see the list below).