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Inside Kroll Ontrack's new data recovery lab

Last week, Kroll Ontrack opened a new clean room facility for data recovery in Brisbane. We take a peek inside the operation of the facility.
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By Suzanne Tindal, News Editor on
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1 of 10 Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet

(Credit: Kroll Ontrack)

The clean room is protected by CCTV monitoring, and background checks for office staff and engineers. Yearly audits check that the company follows IT security protocols; at the moment it has SAS70 certification.

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2 of 10 Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet

(Credit: Kroll Ontrack)

Kroll Ontrack maintains a parts database, which engineers can use to search for parts. The Australian office may request a part that the German office has on hand, in order to complete a data recovery job.

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3 of 10 Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet

(Credit: Kroll Ontrack)

In order to achieve the dust free environment needed for proper data recovery, Kroll Ontrack has installed hospital-grade high-efficiency particulate arresting (HEPA) air filters to remove dust particles from the air.

"To state the old analogy, you can liken the heads of a mechanical hard drive, moving over the top of the hard drive platters, like a Jumbo jet flying at 800km/h a few centimetres off the ground — if anything large gets in the way, then it will certainly end in disaster. This is also true of hard drives as it just takes one large dust particle to cause a hard drive to crash; hence the need for clean air," the company says.

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4 of 10 Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet

(Credit: Kroll Ontrack)

Kroll Ontrack said that at the last count, it had over 500 proprietary software and hardware tools to help with data recovery. Developing the tools is a continual process because of the release of new storage devices and the revisions of existing models.

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5 of 10 Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet

(Credit: Kroll Ontrack)

The clean environment is necessary for opening drives; otherwise, there is the risk of irreparable damage.

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6 of 10 Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet

(Credit: Kroll Ontrack)

Kroll Ontrack is able to image a drive from back to front, depending on damaged areas. It then works with the image of a drive, not the original hard drive.

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7 of 10 Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet

(Credit: Kroll Ontrack)

It takes two years for an engineer to complete the training on basic tools and techniques, before specialising in various areas of data recovery.

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8 of 10 Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet

(Credit: Kroll Ontrack)

High powered microscopes, often used in medical research, are used to inspect hard drive heads, to detect mechanical issues and check alignment. The equipment is modified to show the alignment and spacing requirements of the head assembly on a hard drive.

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9 of 10 Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet

(Credit: Kroll Ontrack)

Recovered data is copied onto storage devices, for example, portable hard drives. As the data is copied, the files are validated to make sure they're of good quality.

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10 of 10 Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet

(Credit: Kroll Ontrack)

After the recovery process, hard drives can be erased using a degausser. A click, lasting less than a second, pulses the hard drives with 18,000 degauss units, making it totally unrecoverable.

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