What is a Data Recovery Clean Room?

Updated: 7/20/2022

Anyone who researches data recovery services, is likely to hear the word “clean room” thrown around a lot. This piece elaborates on data recovery clean room work environments and why they are important.

A cleanroom / clean room is an environment with a very low concentration of environmental pollutants such as dust, airborne microbes, aerosol particles, and chemical vapors.

Source: Wikipedia – Clean Room

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So What is a Data Recovery Clean Room?

Anyone can look up definitions on Wikipedia, and smaller data recovery shops may even attempt to construct their own makeshift clean rooms. The reality is that a number of variables determine the level of certification granted to individual clean rooms. Factors include the size of the room, ventilation, air filtration configurations, and professional classifications.

You may be thinking ‘wow, all of these specifications surrounding clean rooms really sound like overkill, what’s the big deal’. You are not alone if a variation of that thought crossed your mind.

A Speck of Dust is Capable of Irreparably Damaging your Drive

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The magnetic read/write heads that work with a hard drive’s platters float a distance of mere microns above the surface of the platter. If your drive is opened by an inexperienced technician outside of a clean room environment, small airborne particles can end up inside the drive, creating a serious risk for contamination. Should any of that contamination find its way into that tiny gap, the heads could collide with the platters. This scenario is known as a hard drive head crash. The result is scratched platters, an irreparably damaged drive, and potentially unrecoverable data.

Data Recovery Must Be Conducted in a Cleanroom Environment

A clean room is designed to filter and circulate air inside a controlled area, maintaining a level of air quality far cleaner than the air we breathe. Class 100 ISO-5 clean rooms are not considered a “sterile” environment. That said, most certified clean rooms are efficient enough to maintain a level of airborne particulate that is less than a fraction of a percent of what you would find in the air outside. The following statement illustrates the necessity of clean room data recovery.

Outdoor air contains some 35,000,000 particles (dust, pollen, etc.) per cubic meter – our clean room cuts that down to just 100.


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In Accordance to ISO 14644-1: Data Savers Operates a Certified Class 100 ISO-5 Clean Room Environment

While there is no “industry standard” for data recovery. The class 100 ISO-5 standard is an environment that meets or exceeds what is commonly used in biology, chemistry, and manufacturing scenarios.

Cleanrooms come in many sizes. The small laminar-flow hood that you may have worked in during chemistry class in high school is technically a modest cleanroom. An industrial operation would be more likely to utilize a large room with air-locks. When considering clean room specifications for various data recovery providers, consider that the size of the actual room is far less significant than the experience of the technicians working in it.

Don’t be Fooled if a Data Recovery Company Claims to Have the Only “Certified” Clean Room in the Country

We know that when researching data recovery labs, a proper clean room is one of the most important things to take into consideration. We are confident in our equipment and our experience, and you will be too. Please contact Data Savers if you have any further questions about our facilities.