Unusual hard drive noises

If the hard drive starts to produce an unusually loud sound which was never heard before, this may be a sign of an imminent failure.

  • Clicking sound (sometimes known as the "Click of death") indicates a read or seek error. Once the hard drive encounters the error, it will click while trying to recalibrate itself. The clicking drive requires urgent attention, although clicking does not necessarily mean a complete failure.
  • Repeated spin-up and spin-down sounds indicate that the drive has difficulty achieving the proper rotation speed. This may be caused by a bearing failure, or by the failure of the spindle motor control chip.
  • The external hard drive may sometimes resonate in its enclosure, creating an unusually loud sound. Also, the vibration can be felt up to several meters away from the device if it is on the hard surface. The device may still function normally. This condition is acceptable for a limited time, but excessive vibration can wear out the drive in a long run.

Most likely reason

There is a mechanical (also called physical) damage to the drive.


Send the drive to the lab for recovery (how do I find a data recovery service?). This is the best possible option as far as data is concerned, although not the cheapest one.

Most of the fora advice, like a "freezer trick", or shaking the drive trying to unstick the head, typically does not work. Sometimes, e.g. if you fail to manage condensation during a "freezer trick" it would even do more harm than good. For a drive with a mechanical problem the good DIY advice starts with "get yourself a PC3000 kit", and that's not cheap.

I do not want to send the drive to a lab. What can I try myself?

Still have questions?