What is a clean room?

Written By: Ontrack

Date Published: 27 June 2024 06:08:03 EDT

What is a clean room?

Hard drive in clean roomBy definition, a clean room is a space in which the concentration of airborne particles is controlled.

Air quality, temperature and humidity are rigorously regulated and controlled in order to avoid contaminating IT equipment and equipment, in particular with dust particles.

What is a 'clean room'?

The idea of a clean room is to create an enclosed space where it is possible to control the concentration of particles, which risk damaging the devices on which we work. The less dust, the better the quality of the clean room and therefore the protection.

The classification of clean rooms will be determined by this concentration of particles. According to ISO 14644-1, an ISO 8 room has a maximum of 29,300 particles of 5 µm / m³. To give you an idea of ​​how clean that is; an immobile person emits on average 100,000 particles of less than 50 µm, which are all elements that are invisible to the naked eye. Therefore, it's of no surprise that the use of a clean room goes hand in hand with the use of specific protective equipment, including masks.

In order to control this particulate concentration of an ISO 8 class clean room, we control dust, the humidity of the air and even the temperature. This involves, among other things, the choice of materials used for partitions, ceilings, desks and floors, to name just a few. The 'cleanliness' of the room will also depend on the performance of the high efficiency filters which manage the air flows around the room.

Why work in a clean room?

The extreme data density of today's hard drives has led the major players in the data recovery market to use increasingly sophisticated technologies to ensure optimal recovery quality.

In fact, the distance between the read heads and the magnetic plates (platters) of a hard disk drive is so small, that a single grain of dust is enough to permanently damage the mechanism and cause the read heads to touch the platter surface, causing permanent damage and loss of data.

It is therefore necessary for companies like Ontrack to work in an environment that is almost hermetic to dust during a hard drive recovery project. Carrying out data recovery work in a laboratory or in the clean room is particularly necessary when a device is physically damaged (learn more about the different types of failures).

Processing your hard drive in a clean room

All these specific treatments brought into the design and use of an ISO 8 clean room are mainly aimed at reducing the number of dust and dirt particles contained in the air.

You should know that, during a data recovery operation on a hard drive, technicians sometimes have to open/unseal the drive and expose the magnetic platters, which is where the data is stored. Even if this step is not required, hard disks are not completely hermetic to fine particles.

An increased level of security is therefore required in all circumstances. A clean room is free of any dirt, which negates the risk of damaging your hard drive in the process. Ultimately, it allows for a data recovery to be carried out in the optimum conditions to get the best chance of a complete recovery.

Classification of clean rooms

A universal, international classification of clean rooms has been defined according to the number of particles per unit of volume.

This qualification of a clean room is carried out using a particle counter, which counts the number of particles in a given volume. This will determine the class of the clean room, and the ISO classes range from 1 to 9. For example, a clean room of ISO class 5 contains a maximum of 105, i.e. 100,000 particles per m³.

In addition, according to the definition of the international standard ISO 14644-1, the parameters related to temperature, humidity and pressure must be maintained at a precise level. The most important parameter, however, remains the amount of dust per unit volume.

Ontrack clean rooms

Ontrack is the global data recovery leader and continuously invests in equipment and research & development.

Ontrack has 18 clean rooms around the world and more than 200 data recovery engineers capable of finding a solution in the event of data loss. Our laboratories and clean rooms are approved by major hard drive manufacturers and remain at the cutting edge of technology to guarantee the best possible recovery outcome for each device.

Opening a hard drive requires extensive precautions to avoid dust contamination. It is important not to attempt to repair a hard drive by yourself; even the smallest amount of dust particles could be catastrophic and cause permanent data loss that not even a specialist could recover from.


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