Posts belonging to Category Hard Drive Clicking



Power Supply Related Problems Causing HDD Clicking

Power Supply ProblemsVery often hard drive clicking sounds are directly related to power supply problems. This can be because of a faulty power supply or a power supply that is overloaded.

Some ways to test for and/or resolve HDD clicking noises due to power supply problems are:

Note: These steps assume that you know the components that make up a computer system and how to safely work with computer equipment. Precautions should be taken when working with electrical devices and for electrostatic electricity. If you are not sure what to do, seek help from a professional.

a.) Check to see what other devices, if any, are connected to the same power lead from the power supply as the hard drive. If any device(s), especially a graphics card is connected to the same lead then connect the device(s) or hard drive to a different power lead and test.

b.) If your computer has many devices connected to the power supply, you should disconnect as many devices as possible that will still allow the computer to boot and run.
You should be able to disconnect CD/DVD drives, floppy drives, any additional hard drives not required to boot, USB devices, modems, internal PCI and PCI express cards. Once you have disconnected what you can, start your computer and check to see if the hard drive clicking noise has gone.
If the clicking sound has gone then your power supply is overloaded and you will probably need to purchase a larger power supply unit to provide enough power for all of the devices.

c.) If the hard drive is still clicking after following the above instructions, it could still be an overloaded power supply. If you have access to a higher rated power supply, you should install and test that in your computer.

d.) If you do not have access to a higher rated power supply to test with, you should remove the hard drive from the computer and test it connected to an external hard drive enclosure or connected to another computer.
If the hard drive clicking has stopped when connected to an external enclosure or another computer, then you know that the hard drive itself is ok. It may still be a faulty or overloaded power supply, which can be tested as per steps a.), b.) and c.) above, or it may be due to other factors such loose connectors, drivers etc.
If it is still making clicking noises when connected to an external enclosure or another computer, then the fault is very likely to be with the hard drive itself and not the power supply. If this is the case then this still may be able to be resolved in other ways so go through the other causes listed on this website to see if any of them apply.

Hard Drive Firmware

Sometimes hard drive clicking sounds can be resolved by upgrading the hard drive’s firmware. If a model of hard drive is prone to hard drive clicking problems the manufacturer may release an updated firmware code to fix the problem.
To check to see if there has been an updated firmware for your hard drive you should look on the hard drive for the make and model number. This information is normally on a sticker on top of the hard drive. Take a note of these details and then go to your hard drive manufacturers website support/downloads section to see if there has been a new firmware released for your model of hard drive. There should be notes stating what fixes are resolved with each incremental firmware update. You will need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to apply the firmware update to the hard drive.

It is extremely important to get a good backup of any data you may need from the drive before applying any firmware updates. If a problem occurs or power is lost when the firmware is being applied the hard drive may be rendered useless.

Here are some links to the most common hard drive manufacturer’s websites:

Seagate: http://www.seagate.com

Western Digital: http://www.wdc.com

Maxtor: Maxtor is now Seagate – http://www.seagate.com

Hitachi: http://www.hitachigst.com/portal/site/en/

Samsung: http://www.samsung.com/global/business/hdd/

Fujitsu: Now Toshiba – http://www3.toshiba.co.jp/storage/index.htm

Fragmented Hard Drive Clicking

Some hard drives are more prone to make clicking sounds when the drive is highly fragmented.  If you have a hard drive making clicking sounds you could defragment the drive to see if that stops or reduces any clicking noises.  If a disk defrag helps then you should defrag your hard drive more often and may even want to look at getting a better third party disk defragmenter.

Third Party Disk Defragmenters

There are some very good third party disk defragmenters available that do a much better job than the bundled Windows disk defragmenters.

To run Windows Disk Defragmenter in Windows XP

Right click My Computer.

Select Manage.

Select Disk Defragmenter in the left pane.

On the right pane, select the disk to defragment and click the Defragment button.

WinXP Defrag

WinXP Defrag

The disk defragmenter will now run.

A graphical representation shows you what the defragmenter is doing.

To run Windows Disk Defragmenter in Windows Vista

In Windows Vista the Disk Defragmenter is scheduled to run by default at 1AM every Wednesday.  If the computer is off at this time this scheduled defragmentation will not run.

To manually run disk defragmenter:

Click start.

Type “Defrag” in the search box (without the “ “).

Hit enter.

Click the defragment now button.

Win Vista Defrag

Win Vista Defrag

Select the disk(s) to defragment and click ok.

The disk defragmenter will now run.

Vista does not have a graphical representation to show you what the defragmenter is doing like older versions of windows had.

To run Windows Disk Defragmenter in Windows Vista

In Windows 7 the Disk Defragmenter is scheduled to run by default at 1AM every Wednesday.  If the computer is off at this time this scheduled defragmentation will not run.

To manually run disk defragmenter:

Click start.

Type “Defrag” in the search box (without the “ “).

Hit enter.

Select the disk(s) to defragment.

Click the defragment disk button.

Windows 7 Defrag

Windows 7 Defrag

The disk defragmenter will now run.

Windows 7 does not have a graphical representation to show you what the defragmenter is doing like older versions of windows had, but it does show you the progress as a percentage complete.

Normal Hard Drive Clicking Sounds

If the hard drive has been making clicking sounds for some time and still appears to function correctly, then these sounds may be the natural sounds of the hard drive. Clicking sounds are normal for some hard drives. Different makes and models of hard drives make lots of different sounds. Even after working as an IT professional for over a decade I still occasionally hear a different sound coming from a hard drive that I have not heard before. Hitachi and IBM hard drives are well known for making natural clicking sounds (unfortunately Hitachi hard drives were also prone to the click of death). In my gaming rig I have Western Digital Raptor hard drives, which make lots of fast clicking sounds when the hard drive is being worked hard. In this case these sounds are normal sounds for my hard drives.

Gold Hard Drive Clicking

Hard Drive Internals

If possible you may wish to connect the hard drive to another system as a slave to eliminate external factors to the hard drive such as loose cable connections, power supply problems, driver issues etc. If the hard drive makes the same clicking sounds when connected to another system then it is fairly safe to say that it is either normal sounds for the hard drive or a fault with the hard drive.

Often a natural hard drive clicking noise can be reduced by defragmenting the hard drive.

Sometimes the manufacturers will release new hard drive firmware updates to resolve or reduce hard drive clicking noises.

With Windows systems it is always a good idea to run Checkdisk on these hard drives to see if any faults can be found. This may give a good indication if a hard drive is about to fail. Checkdisk can be run from a windows explorer or a command prompt.

Windows Chkdsk

Windows Chkdsk

To run Checkdisk from My Computer or Windows Explorer
1. Double-click My Computer, and then right-click the hard disk that you need to check.
2. Click Properties, and then click Tools.
3. Under Error-checking, click Check Now. A dialog box that shows the Checkdisk options is displayed.
4. Select the Automatically fix file system errors check box and select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box.
5. Click Start.
Note: If one or more of the files on the hard disk are open (which is very likely), you will receive the following message:
The disk check could not be performed because the disk check utility needs exclusive access to some Windows files on the disk. These files can be accessed by restarting Windows. Do you want to schedule the disk check to occur the next time you restart the computer?
6. Click Yes to schedule the disk check.
7. Close all applications and restart your computer.
8. Checkdisk will now run when the system restarts. This may take some time and you should monitor this to see if any errors are found.

To run Checkdisk at the command prompt
1. Click Start
2. Click Run
3. In Open, type cmd, and then press ENTER.
4. Type chkdsk volume:/r where volume is the letter of the hard drive. Normally C), and then press ENTER.
Note: If one or more of the files on the hard disk are open (which is very likely), you will receive the following message:
Chkdsk cannot run because the volume is in use by another process. Would you like to schedule this volume to be checked the next time the system restarts? (Y/N)
5. Type Y, and then press ENTER to schedule the disk check.
6. Close all applications and restart your computer.
7. Checkdisk will now run when the system restarts. This may take some time and you should monitor this to see if any errors are found.

Hard Drive on a Non-Level Surface

Sometimes having a hard drive on a non-level surface can cause clicking sounds. This is more likely to happen with older hard drives.

To see if this is the cause of your hard drive clicking noise, you should check the positioning of your hard drive. If your hard drive is inside of a personal computer (PC), you may need to take a panel off the PC case to be able to view the actual hard drive position. If the case is a tower then the panel to remove is normally a side panel, or if the case is a desktop then the panel to remove is normally the top panel. If the hard drive (or the PC case) is sitting on an angle, you should reposition it so that the hard drive is sitting level with the floor and see if that resolves your problem. Note that your computer should be shutdown before changing the hard drive’s position.

Graphics Card Drivers

Although pretty uncommon, there have been some graphic card drivers that have been known to cause hard drive clicking noises.  These have normally been beta (test) drivers.  To eliminate this potential cause, you should try changing your graphics card drivers.

Nvidia drivers can be found here.

ATI/AMD drivers can be found here.

External Hard Drive Clicking

Often an external hard drive will making clicking sounds due a loose connection, faulty cable or a faulty power adapter.

To troubleshoot:

Unplug all of the cables and then visually check the cable connections.  While still unplugged from any power source or computer connection, plug the cables in and out of their sockets on the external hard drive enclosure to see if any of the connections feel loose.  If you find a loose connection, it can often be fixed by using a small screwdriver to re-correct the shape of a male or female connector.  Also check the cables for any damage.  Low voltage cables coming out of power adapters are often damaged when people wrap the cable tightly around the adapter when packing for storage.

If the connections and cable all appear fine the next thing to check is the power adapter (if your external hard drive has one).  If you or a friend has an identical external hard drive enclosure try the power adapter from that to see if it resolves the problem.

The next step if none of the above have fixed your problem is to take the physical hard drive out of the external enclosure and either connect directly internally to a computer or connect to a known good external hard drive enclosure.  If the hard drive clicking noise is now gone, then the external enclosure and cables should be replaced.  If the hard drive is still making a clicking noise, then the fault is with the hard drive itself and you will need to troubleshoot further.

Click of Death

The click of death normally happens when the hard drive heads cannot tell where the tracks required are on the platter(s).  This causes the heads to keep moving until the actuator arm that holds the heads hit a physical stop.  The click of death sound that you hear is the sound made when the actuator arm hits the stop.  The stop is there to stop the reader heads from leaving the platter(s).

These two video’s are of hard drives with the dreaded click of death.

The click of death is normally caused by a fault with the heads and sometimes (although much less often) by a fault on the hard drive circuit board.  In both cases the safest option to give the best chance of getting any data from the clicking hard drive is to use a data recovery service.  They have the clean rooms and specialist equipment required to take the platters out of the faulty drive and possibly recover the data. 

If a data recovery service is not an option for you, or you like to tinker with these sorts of things, you can try and get a working identical drive and try replacing the circuit board on the faulty hard drive with the circuit board from the working hard drive.  If that does not work the next step would be to try and move the platter(s) from the defective drive into the working hard drive.  I have not done either of these steps and would personally just use a data recovery service if the data was that important to warrant the time this would take and cost of an identical hard drive.  In saying that, a number of people have been successful in resolving a number of different hard drive problems by replacing the circuit board.  However, I would say that very few people have been successful in swapping platters, as the chances of contaminating the platters without a proper clean room are very high.  Try either of these solutions at your own risk!