This checklist should be completed as soon as possible after discovering a data loss, before attempting data recovery.
Turn off the system immediately. If you are running Windows, do not bother shutting it down properly. Just turn the main power off as fast as you can.
From this point on, do not try to boot the affected system. Get some paper and a pen instead.
Write down a list of the most important items that were stored on the computer. This should include file types, names, locations (i.e. directories).
Priority Items: Data Files, Email ( if they have not been saved on your mail server). Photographs & Videos (but not those downloaded from the internet as most of these can be obtained again) don’t forget to include files stored on your desktop.
Mark all items you know you have reliable backups for.
Sort all the items by their estimated value (for example, you can use the amount of time required to reconstruct the data to measure its value).
Write down all events that preceded the data loss, including but not limited to recent software installations, error messages (if any), and mechanical sounds from the hard disk (if any). Try to maintain a chronological order.
Record the exact action(s) immediately preceding the crash.
When all the above is done, have a break, then, return to the list and review it again. Include any previously forgotten items, if any. This step is performed to ensure that nothing important has been missed.
This gives you the following:
A better understanding of what has happened.
A better understanding of what’s lost and how much does it will cost to re-construct.
An information sheet which can be passed on to our data recovery technician.
Also make note of any user names and passwords that you may have to log onto the computer