Opening the hard drive – Regular vs. Clean room environment

Data recovery sometimes does not require the patient drive to be opened, but when it does, a specific problem occurs - exposure of the hard drive’s interior to the influence of the environment in which the data recovery operations are performed.


Compared to the hard drive’s interior, the surrounding environment’s air is filled with particles of different sizes, and if those particles get in contact with the surface of the hard drive platters, they can irreversibly damage the delicate magnetic coating, creating bad sectors and thus permanently erasing the data recorded in those sectors.


In this article, we will try to show the difference in the numbers of bad sectors when a drive is opened within a clean environment of a laminar flow cabinet and when it is not.


Step 1. An unopened hard drive is selected and scanned for bad sectors.


Picture 1. Scan of an unopened drive.


Step 2. The hard disk drive is then opened in a Laminar Flow Cabinet in a Clean Room. An airborne particle counter is used to measure the number of particles in the surrounding area.


Picture 2.1. Particle count of the laminar flow cabinet workspace - zero particles.


Picture 2.2. Scan of a drive opened within the Laminar flow cabinet.


Step 3: The same hard disk drive is now opened in an “unsafe” environment, left open for a short period of time, and then plugged in and scanned.

Picture 3.1. Particle count of the office area air.


Picture 3.2. Scan of a drive opened in normal office conditions.


Bad sectors are represented with "peaks" in the graph. As you can see, the difference in the number of bad sectors is easily noticeable. Having a drive opened in a clean environment offers a much safer way of dealing with drives that have mechanical problems.


The horizontal laminar flow of air coming from the back to the front of a Laminar flow cabinet disables the possibility of dust or any other small airborne particles to enter the work area.


Recognizing the problem, HddSurgery started developing Laminar Flow Cabinet and now we are in the final phase of the project, and the product will be introduced to the market very soon. HddSurgery laminar flow chamber is specially designed to fulfill the needs of data recovery experts, providing a particle-free environment for various physical operations on the hard disk drives.


Opening hard drive of your own without any clean room should not be experimented as it could lead to further damage. I suppose clean environment is always better to make hard drive less prone to bacteria and impurities. Also recovery chances are good in proper environment by data recovery experts.

John Grey