Clean environments for data recovery

On November 18, 2013, in Storage News, by Nick Parsons

clean-room-southbit-data-recoveryPeople have different ideas about what happens when they book their hard drive in for data recovery. Some clients think that their hard drive is merely plugged into a machine and a button is pushed, others have the idea that we remove the platters and read them on some sort of universal hard drive reader. Neither of these is true.

Data recovery is a highly complex process and each recovery case is unique. Before any part of the recovery process commences, the drive needs to be diagnosed. Recoveries can be broken down into various categories, but more broadly speaking we can divide cases into ones which require opening of the drive to replace faulty components, and those where this is not necessary. Let’s focus on hard drives which need to be opened, and more specifically the environment required to work on such drives for recovery purposes.

Hard drive manufacturing plants are among the cleanest and purest on earth. This is a requirement due to the tiny height at which hard drive heads ‘fly’ above the magnetic platters. The heads have certain aerodynamic properties which allow them to fly on a tiny cushion of air as they pass over your data as the platters spin, this height is hundreds of times smaller than the thickness of a human hair. Due to this tiny tolerance, any form of contamination such as dust or dirt would cause a catastrophic head crash. For this reason, the environment in which hard drives are opened for recovery is called a ‘clean room’.  The use of the word ‘room’ suggests a physical room, but this is often not the case, unless data recovery is being undertaken on a huge scale with numerous data recovery technicians all working in the same environment.  The ‘clean’ factor is achieved by means of purified air flowing into the environment and creating positive pressure so that no contaminants can make their way inside. For the large majority of data recovery companies working on a smaller scale, an enclosure which serves the same purpose is sufficient. These are often called laminar flow benches and use HEPA filters to clean the air flowing into the clean environment.

SouthBit Data Recovery makes use of a custom built laminar flow bench with HEPA filters far exceeding the required specifications, so as to ensure complete safety of all drives we work on which require recovery on a physical and mechanical level.


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