Should my hard drive be making that noise?

Hard drives have moving parts and when things move, they often create sound. To put it another way, like a car engine, your hard drive can be noisy and still healthy. Some sounds, though, indicate that something is seriously wrong.

Typically, hard drives will make low-pitched whirring or whining noises – particularly when they’re booting up or accessing/storing data – or clicking noises. These are usually perfectly normal and not a cause for concern. It’s also worth noting that it’s far from uncommon for people to assume that something is wrong with their hard drive because of the noise produced by their machine’s fan.

Just as you know that something’s wrong when an engine makes a popping or scraping sound, though, you can identify when things are starting to go wrong with your hard drive as soon as it starts to produce certain sounds and take action before you've lost data – just like you’d take your car to a mechanic before the problem got worse.

Like we’ve said, it’s perfectly normal for hard drives to make some noise, but this is nearly always low-pitched and relatively inobtrusive. When the noise being produced is pronounced and aggressive, it’s almost certainly a sign that something’s wrong. Before doing anything else, power-down your machine, remove the power and data cables from your hard drive and power it back up. If the noise is still there, it’s not coming from your hard drive. If it isn’t, then here are some of the sounds you might be hearing and a brief description of why:

Grinding

We’ve deliberately started with the worst possible scenario here. If your drive is making a grinding noise, it’s likely that the drive has suffered from a head crash and the drive’s read-write head has come into contact with the platter.

The data contained on a hard drive is written onto a thin magnetic layer resting on the platter’s surface and the grinding sound you’re hearing is effectively the read-write head stripping this away.

If you hear a grinding sound coming from your hard drive, power it down as soon as possible; the head will continue to cause damage to the platter and erase your data until you do.

Clicking

Yes, some clicking is normal but repeated loud clicking is usually a sign of head failure. Basically, a constant clicking sound results from the drive consistently trying to restart following an error and, again, you’ll need to power down your machine as soon as you possibly can.

Beeping

If, upon powering up your machine, your hard drive beeps but makes no further noise, it’s likely that the spindle that spins the drive’s platters has seized. Another sure-fire sign that your drive’s spindle’s seized is your machine not recognising the drive.  

What to do if your hard drive sounds strange

If you hard drive is suddenly making strange sounds, contact Fields Data Recovery for a free diagnostic and a no-obligation data recovery quote today.

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