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What to Do When a Hard Drive Makes Clicking Sounds

When you hear the dreaded "Click of Death" coming from your hard drive it's time to contact a data recovery company


Clicking, grinding and whirring sounds are among the most common hard drive failure symptoms. The noises indicate that one or more of the hard drive's mechanical components have failed, and if your hard drive begins clicking, you will need act quickly to ensure the best possible chances of a successful data recovery. Here are a few important steps to take if you notice clicking sounds coming from an internal or external hard drive.

Immediately Shut Down the Hard Drive. Clicking sounds occur when a hard drive's actuator heads malfunction. The role of the actuator heads is to read and write information from the platters that store your data.

If the heads malfunction, they can come into direct contact with the platters. This causes immediate data loss as the heads scrape against the magnetic coating of the disks to create rotational damage.

The longer your drive runs after a mechanical failure, the higher your chances of severe platter damage and data loss. As soon as you hear repetitive clicking sounds, you should shut your hard drive down.

Do not boot the drive to try to access data. You might be able to see a directory listing, but by attempting to copy your files, you will allow the actuator heads to damage the exact tracks and sectors where your most important data is located.

Never run data recovery software, as commercial utilities work on a filesystem level. They cannot fix physical media issues, and running data recovery programs will only make the situation worse. Keep your drive turned off until you can speak with a qualified data recovery professional.

Note Any Symptoms That Preceded the Failure. Failure symptoms can hard drive data recovery engineers differentiate between common mechanical problems. Note whether your drive slowed down significantly before the clicking sounds began and whether you have recently experienced power failures or power surges.

Data recovery engineers will also want to know your operating system, filesystem and the age of the hard drive. Most hard drives have a rated life of 3-7 years, but actuator head issues can occur at any point in a hard drive's lifespan.

Make a List of Critically Important Files. This will help engineers determine the likelihood of a successful recovery. Larger files are more likely to sustain sector damage than smaller files, but experienced engineers can reconstruct your data if your hard drive's platters are in relatively good condition.

Find a Safe Data Recovery Company. To treat actuator head issues, data recovery engineers need access to a certified Cleanroom. Cleanroom technology prevents harmful media contamination, which is a potentially serious issue for the sensitive platters and actuator heads of a modern hard drive. Human hair, fingerprint oils or even a single piece of dust can seriously damage a hard drive during mechanical repair procedures, and a Cleanroom prevents this type of damage through a series of advanced environmental controls.

Your data recovery provider should also follow appropriate security protocols when handling data. Look for a provider with several relevant security certifications and ask to see certification documents. Reputable providers engage in third-party laboratory audits to provide consistent service.

Secure Data Recovery Services was the first provider to earn a SSAE 16 Type II security certification, and we hold a number of other certifications that show our compliance with federal laws and popular industry standards. We operate a certified Class 10 ISO 4 Cleanroom and hold certifications from all major hard drive manufacturers. Contact our customer service team today to set up a free hard disk drive media evaluation or for more information.

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