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Understanding Clean Rooms and Their Role in Data Recovery

Hard drives are very delicate pieces of kit. If your drive has been physically damaged then you should not open it up to see what’s wrong. The particles in the air could land on the drive’s platter and scratch it, causing further data loss risk. Things like dust or hair in the air are all that’s required to cause damage. You can’t see them, but these tiny airborne particles are a big danger for your drive.

As such, you need to be in a special room before the drive can be opened. This is what is known as a clean room. A clean room needs to meet a certain set of standards before it can be classified as one. This is ISO certification, something that is recognised worldwide and is a quick way to judge whether a recovery company is up to snuff. The clean rooms have to be maintained at a high level in order to retain the certification. There are various ISO levels that can be awarded. For example, a ISO 5 Class 100 clean room means that there are less than 100 airborne particles.

The types of things that are checked in a clean room include whether the equipment inside the room is suitable for the clean environment; it should not give rise to any contaminant. The best clean rooms will be made of non-shredding, corrosive resistant and low outgassing materials in order to minimise the introduction of airborne molecular contamination.

Also, in order to keep the air clean, the room must have a suitable air filtration system. These filters are called High Efficiency Particulate Air filters and they are able to filter particles as small as 0.3 microns. The use of these filters ensures that the contaminants are dealt with quickly. A non-controlled environment, like a room in your house, might have as many as 1 million particles at 0.5 microns in size. As such, you can imagine why clean rooms have to be upheld to such high standards.

A clean room will also have the temperature and humidity controlled in order to create the best conditions. This is usually at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 50% humidity.

A clean room is a very restricted area. Those entering must follow all procedures such as wearing protective clothes and shoe coverings. This is in order to reduce the amount of contaminants that are entering the room. Doors must not be left open for this very reason.

Some people may suggest that it is possible to create your own clean room environment. Some examples include opening your drive inside a tent, a plastic storage container or by running the shower for 20 minutes to get rid of all airborne particles. The fact of the matter is that none of this comparable to an industry standard clean room. It might be expensive to send your drive off for data recovery, but it’s worth the cost knowing that your drive will be dealt with professionally. Doing the job yourself could risk causing further data loss, which is the complete opposite of what you’ll want.


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