World Class Clean Room Facility

Secure Environment

The Ontrack clean room facility is a secured environment with CCTV monitoring. All office staff and engineers are background checked. Ontrack follows strict IT security protocols and are audited every year. Currently we follow SAS70 certification.

All Ontrack workbenches follow ISO 14644-1 class 5 standards

Drives should only be opened in a suitable environment to avoid irreparable damage. A clean data recovery environment is a devised system for routing the air flow on rows of workbenches in an arrangement based on high-quality submicron particulate air filters that trap the smallest particles. These systems use special HEPA filters (high efficiency particulate air filters) that filter out suspended particles only 0.5 micrometers in diameter. Workbenches and data recovery work stations are arranged in specialized areas based on the type of media: 2.5, 3.5 IDE, SATA drives, USB drives, SAS, SCSI, SSD, flash, phones, tablets and server media. All Ontrack workbenches follow ISO 14644-1 class 5 standards.

Research and Development

Data recovery requires specialist skills and knowledge of the mechanical aspect of hard drives and data storage technologies. At the last count, Ontrack had over 500 proprietary software and hardware tools developed over the course of 25 years in the business of data recovery. With the daily release of new storage devices and new revisions of existing models, Ontrack has on hand 200 software and developers to write new code or design new tools to help clients recover data.

Engineer Training and Development

Engineers work on different technologies, from traditional hard drives to solid state and flash memory. Ontrack work closely with many manufacturers and OEMs to develop tools for data recovery. These tools are developed, tested and rolled out to the global offices where the engineers are given training to use on client jobs. Typically it takes 2 years for an engineer to be complete their training on basic tools and techniques before specializing in areas of expertise within data recovery.

Advanced Equipment

Further inspection of hard drive heads is required to detect mechanical issues, alignment and find a solution for physical damage. The high powered microscopes are commonly used in medical laboratory research. Each one is custom modified to provide the precise requirements of aligning and spacing the head assembly on a hard drive. With some hard drives having up to eight read / write heads and four platters, it very important to make sure that no one head comes in contact with a platter!

Quality Data Recovery

Engineers can work on multiple drives in various stages of recovery. With proprietary imaging software, a drive can be imaged from the back to the front or from any point where it can avoid the damaged areas on the platters. Ontrack always work with an image of a drive and not on the original hard drive which ultimately preserves the drive to get the best quality recovery from it.

Data Imaging

Imaged and recovered data is copied out to portable hard drives or other storage devices. Once an image is created from the failed hard drive, the job is passed to another team to recover the data files from the image held on the secure Ontrack server. As the data is copied out to new media, each file is validated to make sure it is of good quality and a report is generated so the client can check to see whether the most important data is present and is in good working order. In the case of RAIDs and SANs, the engineers can image each drive and rebuild the RAID or striping of data to recover the data, this is also true in the Hypervisor world where the majority of data loss is caused by human error.

Extensive Spare Parts Inventory

A large stock of spare parts and hard drives is important to ensure a fast recovery service. Ontrack maintains a World Wide Parts Database where engineers can search for parts. If for example the office in Singapore has the set of parts for a certain data recovery job, the Brisbane clean room can request that the parts be sent to them.

Ontrack Degausser

After the recovery process hard drives can be erased by an Ontrack Degausser to make sure no customer data resides on the hard drives. Before a drive is disposed of, it’s a good idea to degauss it so there is no risk of it ever being recovered again. Back in the 90s there were enterprising students who would buy old computers from corporations, perform DIY data recovery and sell the drive on EBay. Only last year we saw media stories of e-waste being shipped to Africa and storage devices being targeted for credit card numbers and bank details. A click lasting less than a second pulses the hard drives with 18,000 degauss units making it totally unrecoverable. Ontrack can also provide a green service where the valuable rare earth metals can be recycled.

Secure Data Erasure

The erasure process is monitored and certified by a Ontrack engineer.

How to assess the quality and security credentials of your data recovery vendor

Data recovery cleanroom check list:

  1. What industry standards does your cleanroom follow?
    Don’t rely on images or video of technicians walking around in cleanroom suits or showing one neatly arranged work space. Verify the type of airflow system and make sure there is a laminar air flow systems in place. These systems use special HEPA filters (high efficiency particulate air filters) that filter out suspended particles only 0.5 micrometers in diameter.
  2. What is the total work area of all your clean benches and how many workstations do you have?
    Many companies claim to have a cleanroom, but what is really relevant is the total surface of clean benches and number of work stations. The amount a clean working space and number of workstations increases the number of jobs an engineer can work on. Many companies show an image of a single clean cabinet without a work station. In contrast, Ontrack’s headquarters in Minnesota has 50 meters of bench space and 138 workstations. Its Brisbane cleanroom has more than 20 meters of bench space and 50+ workstations. The advantages of a large clean area are: economies of scale, lower cost, faster recovery times, more experienced technicians and a higher success rate.
  3. Do you have both hardware and software research and development engineers on staff developing your own proprietary solutions?
    The web is awash with off-the-shelf data recovery tools so it easy to set up a data recovery business and give data recovery a try. Verify what tools are used and how competent the engineers are. A good data recovery tool in the wrong hands is still a recipe for disaster. Ontrack is the only company that has invested more the 25 years in proprietary tools and has 1,400+ years of combined data recovery specific technology experience (operations and R&D) working on a wide variety of new data recovery techniques for technologies such as SSD, flash, ReFS, Android and VMware.
  4. How do you image data from a damaged drive?
    Make sure you data recovery company works from an image of the data. Verify the company uses a safe system to image the data. Make sure your data is disposed of in a secure and verifiable way.
  5. How do you ensure data security, privacy and integrity of my data?
    Ask for the size and setup of the data recovery and data storage facility. Verify capacity and how data and physical security is ensured. Are the data recovery facilities monitored? Where is your data stored? A simple search and street view check will reveal a lot about your vendor. All Ontrack facilities adhere to the strictest security protocols and are CCTV monitored.
  6. How many years of experience do your data recovery engineers have?
    First verify how many engineers the company has. It takes many years to train a data recovery engineer in house, and many more to specialize in specific media. All Ontrack engineers are trained in house, receive regular refreshers and the majority have been with the company for more than seven years. In fact, Ontrack has 1,400+ years of combined data recovery specific technology experience (operations and R&D).
  7. Are you authorized by any hardware vendor, does your work void warranties?
    Make sure the work of your chosen data recovery company does not void product warranties. Ontrack works with leading vendors, like WD and Apple, and therefore data recovery services by Ontrack do not usually void warranties. Always check with you manufacturer and check their service pages.