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How Clean Is Your Cleanroom?

How Clean Is Your Cleanroom?
How Clean Is Your Cleanroom?

Would it pass muster with Aggie and Kim ? Would they be prepared to sign your certificate ? With so many data recovery labs claiming class 100 very few have realised that the class 100 standard was phased out between 1999 and 2004 and replaced with the ISO14644-1 Certification class 5 shortened to ISO-5 which itself has been superseded by ISO-3 for modern high capacity disks since 2004.

Clean Room Data Recovery - What's Its Significance?

What is an ISO Certified clean room? Why is clean room certification for data recovery important? We look at these issues first.

What Are Clean Rooms?

Clean rooms are rooms that have been designed to reduce the level of particulates in the air,  like dust and airborne microbes. Clean room construction employs filters extensively. Outside air is filtered to prevent dust entering the room. Filters and working processes will be in place inside the room to remove internally generated contaminants during production and working areas are further filtered inside the clean room by use of  a  laminar flow bench.


Staff would usually have to enter a clean room through a sealed atrium to put on protective clothing and then enter the working area inside  the clean room.

There are different "classes" of clean room, with each class limiting permissible different numbers of particles per cubic meter, as well as the maximum sizes particles. Thus an ISO-3 clean room is one where the number of particles should not exceed 102 particles of upto 0.3 microns in size per cubic meter of air (compared to around 35million in unfiltered air).

Clean rooms are used extensively in the pharmaceutical, semiconductor manufacturing and biotech industries. Data Recovery Centres typically use an annually certified ISO 14644-1 clean room rated Class 3 or ISO-3 for short,  (compared to class 100 tolerance of 100,000 particles per cubic meter in a normal room).  ISO14644-1:1999 in the United States, following the cancellation of FED-STD-209E classification which is no longer recognised for annual certification purposes.

Conclusion a Class 100 clean room of 10 years ago has 100 times the amount of dust and so there is a corresponding 100 times likelihood of contamination when compared to an ISO-3 Certified clean room.

Why Use Clean Rooms for Data Recovery?

Clean rooms are used for data recovery to prevent dust, electro static discharges and such disturbances from damaging the platter surface where the data is stored. These kinds of precautions become necessary because even microscopic dust particles can damage the heads or magnetic storage media on the drive platters, and make data recovery difficult.

Each generation of disks, data is packed more and more densely on the disk platters. With storage capacities planned to reach 10TB per square inch, the need to limit the amount of damage caused by contamination increases. It is thus important that data recovery be attempted in ISO Certified clean rooms.

Drive manufacturers usually specify that their product guarantee will become void if the drive is opened by anybody other than themselves, or their authorized agents. And typically, one of the conditions they impose on authorized agents is that the disks be opened in clean rooms meeting ISO14644-1 Class 3 which replaced Fed-Std-209e.Class 1.

Thus clean rooms are necessary for data recovery on both performance and product warranty considerations.

Clean Room Data Recovery

Hard disk drives are opened only in clean rooms and kept there until the recovery is complete and the drive is closed. All devices are also protected against esd - electro-static discharge, physical shocks, temperature fluctuations and electrical disturbances.


Data storage media on platters are getting packed with more and data, more densely with each new generation of drives. It is thus extremely important to attempt data recovery in exceptionally dust free rooms. Most laminar flow cabinets can only achieve ISO-5 so need to be incorporated inside a clean room to increase their effectiveness, essentially the clean room pre-cleans the air so the Laminar flow cabinet operates at full efficiency

Clean rooms for  data recovery use ISO14644-1 Class 3 (ISO-3) annually certified facilities and should show their certificate of testing.

Clean room data recovery centres actually aim to achieve even higher levels of dust free conditions during production operations. Even minute specks of dust on the drive platters can damage and corrupt large amounts of data, and make data recovery even more difficult, and in worse case scenarios render the drive unrecoverable.

Abc Data Recovery Ltd operate an annually certified IS0-3 Clean room which has been designed to meet ISO-2 standards for  future high  hard disk drive rebuilds. Their High capacity data recovery lab provides data recovery services to other data recovery companies, IT Professionals and direct to consumers.


Data Recovery, Data Recovery Clean Room, Hard Drive Repair, Hard disk rebuild,

Article by Andrew Butler