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Do You Hear Your Hard Drive Clicking?

Written By Pinoy Tekkie on Linggo, Setyembre 2, 2012 | 4:50 AM

Many users have reported a problem with hard drive clicking, sometimes described as a repeating tick tick tick type of ticking sound, or a faint beep at random intervals.

The click sound is usually caused by the drive parking its head. There are multiple causes for that, including power management and shock detection. However, it may also mean that your drive is about to die.

There are many different hard drive clicking sounds and therefore many different possible fixes.  As with most computer problems the cause of the problem can be found by a process of elimination, therefore you can work through the items in the list below to see if anything applies to you.

Some causes of hard drive clicking sounds are:

Back up your data immediately!:
A clicking drive is a sign of death, or near death. I don’t recommend using the old drive for anything further, especially for backing up data, because it isn’t trustworthy. Even if you did get the old drive up and running again using one of the techniques described here, it wouldn’t be prudent to trust it. Take your valuables off of it and recycle the scrap metal.

My advice is to purchase a fresh new hard drive to power up your computer and connect the second one, (at least temporarily), as a secondary slave drive. If the old drive still spins you can then retrieve all of your photos and personal stuff off of it.

I always add a secondary drive to all of my computers to keep my created and saved files separate from the operating drive. It seems that the “C” drive is always the one that fails. Keep your precious creations separate whenever possible.

Now you would of course try to save your precious data by trying to backup or recover them from your defective drive before it goes to its “final destination.”

Here are some ways to recover data from a defective drive:

You can try the freezer trick if the drive is acting flaky and/or not much else has really been helpful in getting data off the drive. First, let the drive reach about room temperature before proceeding. A sudden change in temperature is not all that healthy for a drive. Afterward, put the drive in a freezer bag (a Ziploc bag will do if there aren’t any freezer bags handy) and squeeze out all the air (leave a little space at the opening of the bag for the air to escape). This is so you avoid condensation while the drive is put into the freezer. Leave it in there for an hour or so. Finally, take it out and slave it to another machine and try to copy over any data you want. This process may need to be repeated a few times in order to copy over everything you need.

What the freezer trick does is cool down all the components of the hard drive. It will cool down the overheating chips on the hard drives circuit board (which is a known problem with some models of Maxtor Quantum drives), and as well as allow the platters contract a bit, making it easier for the heads to read the data, thus decreasing read errors. All this trick does is buy some time in order to recover your data. In other words, the drive will need to be replaced. If it is still under warranty, RMA it back to the manufacturer.”


I have also had a bit of success in cooling the drive with compressed air before and during boot. Both of these fixes are temporary. You still need to get the drive out of service ASAP.

There are many reasons for drives to start failing and lowering the temperature may help overheating parts.

I’ve also had experience with recovering data from a clicking hard drive using the opposite approach, that is I let the hard drive warm up. This system was not used much and with the cooler weather the system was taking a long time to startup or failing to start. So leave the system on for 20 minutes and then restart allowed the recovery or transfer of much of the data to another drive. In this case I had moved the clicking drive to a new system as the slave or secondary drive and waited for the drive to warm up.

There are physical reasons why warm drives work better than cold ones. The spacing between the head and disk decrease with increasing temperature which helps improve the SNR being the main reason in this failure. I would not recommend placing the drive in an oven to warm it up but finding a warm place or leaving the drive on or gently wrapping the drive with a clean cloth (hand towel). An operating drive will consume around 10 to 20 watts and thermally insulating the drive and waiting will increase the temperature.

However,  a user reported that he put his drive in a toaster oven at low temperature (160 degrees) for 30 minutes .. assuming this would be low enough to not damage anything, and warm enough to expand metal to mimic a longer-running hard drive, and it actually worked because he was able to boot it up long enough to back up all his data from the drive before making it a door stop.

Data Recovery Services:
If all attempts to recover your data using the methods above fail, you have no choice but to bring it to the professionals. Look for data recovery services. Many of these services are posted online but it would be best if you ask from IT forums or from colleagues or peers who had availed already of these services.
*creits to CNET.com, harddriveclicking.com
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