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A Day in the Life of a Cleanroom Engineer

How is a typical working day of a cleanroom engineer at Kroll Ontrack? We asked Massimo Scaniglia, Cleanroom Supervisor at Kroll Ontrack Italy, and here’s what he told us.

9:00 am – My first task of the day is attending a meeting with other colleagues of the technical staff to review the daily project list and review jobs from the prior day.  For example, we started reading data from a couple of RAID hard drives that were brought in yesterday and I need to know how the reading is proceeding and the estimated time to complete the operation. Then, depending on the workload of the team, I decide how to organize next activities.

9:30 am – I take a hard disk that a customer brought in yesterday afternoon. I start reading the documentation that comes with it in order to get an idea of the problem. Then I open the drive and I move to the microscope to better analyze the heads that I disassemble. I’ll have to replace them as they appear to have suffered  damage due to an impact.

10:15 am – The express courier is here. Damaged devices will be first registered in our systems and then processed according to the priority based on the service level.

10:45 am – I have completed replacing the heads on the hard drive that was brought in this morning.  Now I will proceed with their alignment. The time required for reading the data is estimated to last about 10 hours: this task will end during the evening so I will be able to send the raw data to our lab tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, another hard drive has finished reading, we have successfully read 96% of the data…I’m really satisfied since I worked hard on this drive! I inform the lab engineers that they can start to work on the reconstruction of files and folders.


11:30 am – I begin to work on the next jobs on the list –  an SSD drive and a burned Samsung smartphone. I begin to operate on these devices and unsoldering the chips. I start with the SSD that mounts 16 TSOP48 chips then I will take care of the smartphone and its eMMC chip.

12:30 pm – All the chips are ready now and I can start reading the raw data.  This must be repeated for each individual memory chip.

1:00 pm – Lunch break. I’ll just go for a little walk.

2:00 pm – Arriving back in the office, I check the status of the SSD memory chips and smartphone. The reading of the eMMC chip is completed and I can send the data to the lab, but the SSD will require more time, the operation will end tomorrow.

2: 30 pm –  Attending an international conference call about a technical process and the use of ad hoc tools to improve the management of encrypted media. Other participants are technical team members from other Kroll Ontrack locations and subsidiaries in different countries. Before the call starts, I have few minutes to open a 2.5” drive from a crushed laptop.

HDD3:30 pm – After the conference call,  continue work on the 2.5” drive. The engine seems jammed, the platters do not rotate and the bearings were damaged. I remove the platters from the current hard drive case for reassembly them in a new case with new heads. Then I try to solve the alignment problems.

5:45 pm –I have finished the work on the 2.5″ drive.  I was able to gain access to the disk and now I can start to read the raw data. The last minutes of the working day are dedicated to reading emails again.

6:00 pm – Before to leave the office, I check that the tasks I have launched are working without problems. It’s time to walk towards the station or I’ll lose my train to home!



Author: Massimo Mazza

Images:  Kroll Ontrack Italy


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