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Why is my Hard Drive Clicking?

Why is my Hard Drive Clicking?

There are a few signs of hard drive failure besides the obvious error screen and failure to boot. A persistent clicking noise, sometimes called the “click of death”, is one indication that hard drive failure is imminent. The technology within hard drives has improved substantially in recent years. They now boast larger storage capacities, faster speeds, more compact sizes, and all for less money. Most (80%) hard drives last four years or more. With frequent use though, the possibility of damage always looms.

What’s Clicking?

Computer users first noticed the clicking sound as related to hard drive failure in the 1990’s. The sound often results from defective movement of the disk’s read-write actuator. During regular use, a disk head moves smoothly to track data on a disk. If these movements become erratic and unexpected, the disk controller tries to reset its position by bumping back to the home position repeatedly. This bumping causes an audible “click”. The process repeats itself and the clicking continues.

In older hard drives, the clicking noise is usually related to a problem with the disk head. In newer models, however, clicking could be the result of either a software or hardware problem. The origin of the clicking can be varied.

Causes of Clicking

The type of clicking helps experienced recovery technicians know which solutions to pursue based on the probable cause of the problem. Try your ear at the different hard drive failure sounds. They aren’t easy to differentiate but we do understand the major causes. There are four likely causes of a clicking hard drive:

  • A failed hard drive
  • Faulty or mismatched data cables
  • Physical damage to a hard drive
  • Insufficient power supply
  • How to Recover Data from a Clicking Hard Drive

    There are a few simple solutions to try if your hard drive is making noises. Ensure your hard drive is getting enough power. A single socket can be overwhelmed if several devices are plugged in and need power. Try plugging a hard drive directly into a single source of power. If that doesn’t work, try replacing the data cables or checking to ensure you’re using data cables intended for that hard drive and computer. If the drive is still clicking, realize that your time to back up data is likely limited. If you haven’t already, complete a full backup. Many people notice the clicking noise only after they realize their drive has failed. If you need help recovering your data after a hard drive failure, submit a HELP form.

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