A+ Certification/Exam Objectives/Life as a Tech/Safety and Protection/Regulations

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When you are working with customer equipment, be sure to have a backup plan available. Unless you have been told otherwise, you are responsible for restoring both the customer's data as well as their hardware. One of the first things you should do when implementing a repair is back up customer data. A customer may hold you responsible if data is lost during a repair, even if the repair had nothing to do with the data. Also, issuing some commands in error can cause data to be lost. Many techs can tell you stories of lost data, and how much trouble this can cause.

One way to back up data is to perform a byte-for-byte copy of a drive or volume. This is done using drive cloning software, and is often performed prior to a legal investigation or when you intend to replace a failing drive in a working system with the same or a similar one. When you put the data on the new drive, you should be able to avoid reinstalling the operating system or any software.

Another way to back up data is to use one of Microsoft's profile transfer tools. Examples include the File and Settings Transfer Wizard and Windows Easy Transfer. Depending on the tool and Operating system you use, user data and settings can be backed up and restored on a new system. Software is not transferred, but user software preferences saved in the user's profile are saved.

A third way to back up data is to select individual files and copy them to a new location. This is the most time-consuming, as customer data can be saved in multiple locations. This is also the most error-prone, as the customer can omit information or a tech can forget to back up a certain location. Sometimes, this is the only option available when a system is failing to boot.

Whenever you back up information, be sure to validate that the data is good by inspecting the size of the backup, attempting to restore the data, or opening an individual file. Many backup applications have log files that will indicate if there were problems copying or writing the information. You will know that a backup is bad if you see a backup that is disproportionately small compared to the data that is backed up.

Also, be sure to only hold backed-up data for a reasonable amount of time. Once the customer has verified that the data has been restored and is no longer necessary, delete the customer's information. Holding the customer's information makes you liable for securing the data.

Some customer data may be under special scrutuiny due to data security standards. Commom standards include PCI-DSS and FIPS in the United States. Accessing data covered by these standards makes you responsible for meeting these standards.

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