Noisy HDD.

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My HDD has just started to make pronounced clicking noises.

Is this significant?


Re: Noisy HDD.

On 6/13/2011 6:53 PM, Peter Jason wrote:
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What your are describing is many times called the "click of death" for
most hard drives.  It s usually the sounds of the drive mechanism
hitting the stops while it tries to read or write data.  It is seeking a
location of the disk and having problems locating it, thus the banging
around much like someone looking for their glasses in a dark room.

If it were me I'd be transferring all the data from that drive to
another as soon as possible.

While it is possible to "fix" the problem on some drives by reformatting
them the problem usually just gets worse until the drive fails totally.

Download the diagnostic software from the drive manufacturers web site
and run that.  If it reports the drive to be in good shape than possibly
a reformatting and reloading of the drive my fix things but prepare for
the worst just in case.

Re: Noisy HDD.

Peter Jason wrote:
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If the computer is running Windows, and the disk is connected
to a regular disk port, you can use the SMART tab here,
to get drive health information. The SMART numbers aren't
always easy to understand or decode, but some of the entries
in the table of data, can point to trouble.

You can post a picture of your SMART data, for comments.

The company that made the disk, will also have utilities
for download, that can test the disk.

Clicking means a regular access attempt failed, so the drive
attempted to go to a known location (track 0 or maybe the
track that holds the initial information used by the controller).
The click then, or noises like that, hints that the drive
is having trouble completing normal operations, and is
resetting itself in an attempt to correct the situation.

On some of the older drives I've worked with, the click is
the sound of the head assembly hitting a "stop" at one end
of its travel.

You may have very little time, between hearing a click
sound, and having it fail. So time is of the essence -
make a backup as soon as possible. The backup takes
priority over everything else, even testing programs like
the one above. If you have a complete backup, then there
is less to worry about. The backup should be stored
on an entirely separate drive. Copying the data onto
the current drive, isn't much good to you if the drive fails.
If your computer only has one internal drive, connecting
an external USB hard drive would be a good place for the

To give an example, I had a 40GB drive a few years back, that
began to act up one night. I was tired and it was late, and
instead of backing it up, I went to bed. When I turned on the
computer the next day, the drive was dead, and all my data
with it. I've never had the money to waste on data recovery
companies, so when a drive fails, I'd better have a backup.

HDTune also has an error scan option. It uses colored blocks
in a graphical display, to show the health of the drive. But
you'd only use the error scan, as a check to see whether
the drive can even be backed up. If the backup fails, because
the drive stops reading data, you can try the HDTune error
scan, to spot what parts of the disk are damaged. For example,
if you're not using the whole disk, and only have a partition
near the front, then the HDTune display might be showing you
that the most severe damaged is towards the end of the disk.

When a number of sectors are bad, there is a technique for
making the best of a bad situation.

    ./ddrescue -n /dev/old_disk /dev/new_disk rescued.log
    ./ddrescue -r 1 /dev/old_disk /dev/new_disk rescued.log

That is a two pass attempt, to copy one disk to another at
the sector level. If you've ever attempted to transfer
data the normal way, when a drive is really sick, it is
so slow, it just never completes. Programs like the one
in that example, allow the attempt to be sped up on the
first pass, while the second pass "fills in the gaps".
If a sector cannot be captured, it is filled with zeros
instead. Using the flaky copy made, then you can attempt
to do CHKDSK or use other repair or file scavenger utilities.

This is an example of a scavenger.

Disks also fail, without any warning, and sometimes this
is due to a bug in the disk controller board firmware.
When you buy a disk drive, you should Google the part
number, to see if the drive has known issues. In a couple
of cases, it is possible to revive a drive with a
firmware based problem, using a TTL level serial interface
on the controller.


Re: Noisy HDD.

First thing to do is back up any important files just in case it 'conks
out' altogether until then use it as little as possible.


Re: Noisy HDD.

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Thanks, I ran the chkdsk f   on the HDD and that stopped the clicking
noises.   It's been quiet for several days now.

I had a bad experience once before with a system HDD when the faulty
power supply went berserk and fried the control card of the HDD.   I
had to run around the town to find a new HDD with a similar card and
then swap it over.   This fixed it, but with a lot of trouble.

Re: Noisy HDD.

Peter Jason wrote:

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There is a difference between clicking and buzzing.  Buzzing means the
heads are flying all over the place to read and write data which means
there is a lot of data going to or coming off your hard disk.  If it's
buzzing then you can using something like SysInternals' Process Monitor
to see what is causing the massive reads/writes.

If the hard disk is clicking once (not repeatedly) and then spinning
down, you could have a power scheme that powers down the hard disk at
very short intervals.  The hard disk isn't actually powered down.  Power
remains up to energize the controller board on the hard disk.  Just the
platters are spun down to conserve energy.  A click followed by a
turbine slowing noise means the platters are spinning down to stop.
If you have multiple hard disks, the idle time for each is measured
separately so they may spin down at different times.  Click and spin
down.  Then when you or a process access the idle drive, click and it
spins up again.  In Windows XP, the shortest turn-off (idle) time for a
hard disk is 3 minutes.  You didn't mention how often or at what rate
you hear the clicking noise.

Re: Noisy HDD.

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It could be significant but is not necessarily so.
I own two computers and originally *three* of the four intern
harddisks clicked repeatedly when shutting off the computers! You
heard click...sound of harddisk spinning up, and this some 5 times
before the device's definite spin down. And I have used these drives
for a long time since (2 of them have disappeared since: one has been
replaced and one replaced by a ssd)


Re: Noisy HDD.

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Sounds kind of like a turn signal?

You'd best get everything you can copied off of it as fast as you can. If
you're lucky you can get the whole thing cloned. If that fails, slave it
and copy off everything that it will allow you too.

Put the drive in a baggie and put it in the freezer overnight. Lots of
times that'll revive them long enough to get the data off.

Been there, done that.

            -- I'm out of white ink --

Re: Noisy HDD.

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it's about to die

clone it *at once*

Re: Noisy HDD.

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The HDD is very near to complete its life cycle. I think you have it
since, well, ten years or so? usually my HDDs can reach this age
before failing.

Anyway, you have to backup all you can and buy a new HDD, that's all.

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