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Data Recovery Blog

Hard Drive Noises and What They Mean (Clicking, Grinding & Beeping)

Jul 29, 2020

Have you becoming concerned about your computer’s hard drive making a strange noise? It can be a huge worry when your hard drive starts making unexplained noises, so we’ve put this resource together to help you understand what these noises mean and when they indicate a more serious problem. This article will explain everything you need to know about the various hard drive noises and what they mean.

Your hard drive is one of my most important parts of your computer. It is responsible for storing all of your files, documents, photos and videos, as well as being responsible for storing and running your computer’s operating system.

Did you know that your hard drive is one of the very few moving parts inside your computer? Most parts inside your computer don’t move at all, except for the spinning fans. But your hard drive has several moving parts that are extremely sensitive.

All machines with moving parts are susceptible to damage, but a hard drive will often contain irreplaceable information, business or schoolwork and special memories.

If you’re concerned about your hard drive that’s making noises that it doesn’t usually make then look no further, as this post will talk you through the most common hard drive noises and what they mean. Don’t worry – this is aimed at non-techies so you don’t need a degree in Computer Science to understand this!

Types of Hard Drive Noises

There are generally 3 different types of noises that your hard drive could make that you need to be aware of. These are:

  1. Clicking or ticking hard drives
  2. Grinding or scratching hard drives
  3. Beeping hard drives

Whilst some of these sounds are sometimes completely normal, it’s important that you’re aware of what’s happening so you can take the necessary steps to protect your equipment and your files.

As data recovery specialists, we have dealt with many failed hard drives that made warning sounds before they failed.

Take action now! Back up your data and be ready to potentially buy a replacement hard drive if it does eventually give up on you.

Labelled Hard Drive

A labelled diagram of the inside of a hard drive

Causes of Clicking Hard Drives

There are a few different reasons why your hard drive has started clicking. You may be able to eliminate these causes and get to the root of the problem.

It’s important to note that your hard drive may continue to function if it is making a clicking noise, but it’s a clear warning sign that something is wrong.

See The Best SSDs of 2020

1. Power Supply Problems

Sometimes, it may actually be your computer’s power supply causing the issue and not the hard drive itself. Faulty power supplies can cause a number of different problems inside a system, a ticking hard drive is one of them.

If you’re able to do so, try an alternative power supply.

Laptop users – this means both a different battery and power adapter (charger).

PC users – disconnect the power entirely, then remove all of the connections to the internal PSU before replacing it with a new one.

External Hard drives – ensure that you’re using the power supply from the same manufacturer. If it’s powered by USB then you need to be using a proper 5V USB cable. Not all USB cables are equal, so ensure you’re using the correct one for your hard drive.

If your hard drive stops clicking with a new power supply, then you have identified the problem!

2. Faulty Circuit Board

Your hard drive has a printed circuit board inside it, it’s like a smaller version of your computer’s motherboard. Circuit boards like these are extremely sensitive to changes in power, so a power surge leaves them susceptible to damage.

Small power surges inside your home, or even electrical storms may damage your hard drive’s printed circuit board. The drive requires this board in order to function properly, so it may well start clicking if there is a fault.

We can recover data from hard drives, even if the circuit board is damaged. But the sooner we get the device, the higher the chances are of recovery – so don’t delay getting in touch with us for a no obligation quote.

3. Hard Drive’s Read/Write Heads are misaligned

Your hard drive’s read/write heads are responsible for accessing and saving data, without read/write heads, your computer would not be able to access the data stored on the drive.

These read/write heads can become misaligned if the hard drive is dropped, knocked or generally handled badly then these mechanical parts can end up out of place.

It’s extremely common for a hard drive to start clicking after a drop, many modern drives will have shock absorption built in but there’s only so much stress they can take.

Your hard drive may continue to function if it is making a clicking noise, but it’s a clear warning sign that something is wrong.

Take action now! Back up your data and consider a replacement drive.

4. Service Area Faults

Another cause of clicking hard drives is a fault in your hard drive’s service area, which renders the entire device inoperable. The service area is a very small, but very important piece of your hard drive that contains the manufacturer’s firmware, a small piece of software that essentially tells the device how to operate itself.

If this service area develops a fault, then you will not be able to read or write data to the disks inside your drive. Even if your hard drive develops a service area fault, our technicians may still be able to access your data and return it to you. It’s important that you call us as soon as possible for the best chance of recovering your data.

Related: How to keep your hard drive cool

Causes of Grinding Hard Drives

Compared to clicking, a hard drive making a grinding sound is actually a much easier to diagnose, since there is only one likely outcome. Unfortunately, a hard drive that sounds as if it’s grinding is a serious fault.

If your hard drive is grinding, it likely means that the drive head has crashed. The grinding sound you hear is the head scratching against the physical disks inside the drive, causing it physical damage.

If you hear an ominous grinding coming from inside your computer or external drive, power it off immediately as you could cause more damage by leaving it on or attempting to recover files.

Call us today for a no obligation quote. We have successfully recovered data from grinding hard drives, The sooner you call us, the higher the chances are of recovering your most important files, so don’t delay!

Causes of Beeping Hard Drives

There are a few different reasons why your hard drive may beep. First off, you should make sure that it is in fact your hard drive that’s beeping and not another component inside your computer.

Once you have determined that your hard drive is responsible for the beeping noise, here are some common reasons for the sound:

1. Power Supply Problems

Just like clicking, a faulty power supply may be responsible for your hard drive beeping.

Follow the steps above to try an alternative power supply, if possible. If you’re using an external hard drive that’s powered via a USB data cable, it may also be a problem with the cable.

2. Manufacturer’s Fault

Another reason for a beeping hard drive could be a manufacturer’s fault. Occasionally, the beeps may be played in a sequence to alert you of a specific error. In this case, check the documentation from your hard drive’s manufacturer.

3. Read/Write Heads become Stuck

Another fairly common cause of a beeping hard drive is the read/write heads becoming stuck in position or not being able to freely move. The beeping itself comes from the small motor that allows the spindle to turn.

Other Hard Drive Noises

Your computer’s hard drive contains moving parts, so it won’t be completely silent. However, sudden, unexplained noises are almost always a cause for concern and could indicate a more serious problem.

If your drive is making a noise right now and that’s your reason for landing on this page, call us today for a chat about your noisy hard drive and find out how we can help.

Remember to

  • Always keep backups of your data in more than one place if possible
  • Have an automatic backup schedule to protect your work
  • Insure your computer equipment
  • Call a data recovery specialist as soon as your drive displays a problem, the sooner we can examine the drive, the higher the chances of data recovery are!

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