Kroll Ontrack demonstrates successful data recoveries with multiple helium-filled hard drives

Kroll Ontrack, provider of data recovery and ediscovery products and services, has announced its engineers have successfully recovered data from several helium-filled hard disk drives (HDD). With a dedicated research and development (R&D) team, Kroll Ontrack proactively created data loss scenarios across multiple drives to develop a path to recovery before a customer need arose. The result is newly developed processes and propriety tools to recover data from helium-filled drives in the company's labs and cleanrooms around the globe.

Because helium is only one-seventh the density of air, drives like the HGST Ultrastar He6 Helium Drives run with less friction, which allows for tighter head and platter spacing and thus more data capacity in the same 3.5 inch enclosure. Less friction and resistance also means lower power consumption and cooler operating temps.

"With any new technology, we have to determine the implications to the data recovery process. Upon learning of these drives, there was concern that operating an open helium-filled drive in a cleanroom environment could dramatically increase the risk of a head crash and/or make the heads inoperable due to changes in fly height, which in turn would make data recovery much more challenging," said Paul Le Messurier, Programme and Operations Manager at Kroll Ontrack. "Our extensive R&D department comprised of engineers from our more than 20 global locations worked to develop the best approach to deal with this unique scenario, and with confidence, we can say that there is no concern about the data recovery plausibility from helium-filled drives. As they become more popular, we are at the ready."

Leveraging automated equipment to safely open the hermetically sealed drives, Ontrack Data Recovery engineers then use custom-built tools to keep the tight fitting heads in a helium-filled drive separated and appropriately spaced during disassembly to avoid further damage. Damaged components are then replaced as needed to make it possible to read the customer's data.

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