Retrieving data from Qubes harddrive where boot/efi seems dead

My laptop (“computer A” containing a SSD, which I’ll call “SSD1”), with Qubes 4.1 and sys-usb, was unfortunately killed by water. Or well, the keyboard was killed. Open window while I was away, lots of rain, and now the computer is unusable due to multiple keys not working and me not being able to enter my LUKS passphrase.

Since it was a cheap laptop I bought a new one, same model (Lenovo X270). The new one we can call “computer B”, and that contains “SSD2”.

I have installed Qubes on SSD2 in Computer B. However, now I would like to retrieve my data from Computer A/SSD1. It is an encrypted Qubes-install and after 10 hours of googling and reading and experimenting, I’ve finally reached the point of asking here.

I do have a third SSD (SSD3) with a backup made with Qubes’ backup tool. However this backup is around a month old and I would loose some newer data if I just restored this one. So: I want to get all my VM’s from SSD1 (the old one) and restore them to Computer B/SSD2 (the new one).

The preferable solution would be to boot into the old SSD1 while it is attached using a SATA-to-USB-cable. From there I would then be able to use Qubes’ backup tool and make a new backup. However, for some reason, in my process of trying to get computer A to work in the aftermath of the raincident (fiddling with BIOS-settings and what not), I seem to have made of mess of the /boot and/or /efi partitions on disk A. This means that now computer A doesn’t even boot from SSD1, neither does computer B if I switch around the two SSD drives. My biggest wish is to be able to boot a machine (I have multiple older like x230 and x250 lying around) with the old drive, SSD1, just to be able to use the Qubes backup tool and then import the backed up VM’s to the new Computer B with SSD2.

I am not sure exactly what kernel my Computer A uses, but it was upgraded to Qubes 4.1 and all updates were installed when the raincident happened last week.

What is the way to go here? I have 30+ VMs, so I would really appreciate to not need to go the way of manually copying private.img files…

You can know for sure if the partitions are damaged. Just boot into SSD2, then attach SSD1 via a cable. Then the partition layout will show up in the usb widget. You can then inspect the /efi and /boot.

IMO it isn’t quite possible to damage /efi or /boot via bios. So possibly they are still there.

I think this shows the value in making regular backups - with the Qubes
tool, and with backups of the actual data. But you know that already.

Depending on how valuable the data is, you could start with imaging SSD1
on to another SSD using dd or another tool. This will minimise the risk
of losing data.
You can boot from the Qubes installer disk, and select the rescue
option, which will give you some chance of getting the boot working