Inside a data recovery clean room…

You will have seen us advertising our class 100 clean rooms for data recovery, but what is a clean room and why have one? Hard disk drives are not designed to be repaired. They are manufactured under very clean conditions and it is important that if they need to be disassembled, these clean conditions are maintained. Even a smoke particle inside a hard drive can cause a massive head crash, when the platters are spinning at 10,000RPM. It is not a vacuum inside the chassis of a hard drive, but it is totally clean.

If our data recovery experts cannot access a hard drive in the normal way, the drive will be disassembled in a clean room. Only then can we determine the exact nature of any physical failure. Between 60 – 70% of all data recovery jobs end up in the clean room. However this does not necessarily need to be a hermetically sealed room, with technicians clad in sterile white overalls and face covers. Nevertheless, we do try to keep our clean rooms above the advertised class 100 standard.

What is this class 100 standard? This basically means that the throughput of air is filtered to ensure that there is no more than 100 dust particles per cubic foot. However, good management of our clean rooms (such as sticky mats to collect dust from shoes) ensures a much better standard is achieved.

Once inside the clean room, expect it to look like something in between the interior of a nuclear plant and an electronics workshop! The clean room is where faulty parts are replaced with donors in order to repair the hard drive. Hence we have a library of spares. A check of the inventory shows that we currently stock over fifteen thousand different parts! With thousands of different models, controllers and variations, fifteen thousand parts suddenly doesn’t seem so much. Indeed, we still have to go searching the World markets for spares. Thankfully though, 98% of data recoveries can be completed with our own donor parts.

So that describes our clean rooms. If you are thinking of opening up the chassis of a hard drive for data recovery, hopefully you might think again. If you have nothing to lose, make sure you open the hard drive in the cleanest environment you can find!