Hard Drive Failure? Clicking Sound

Three days ago I tried booting up my computer and it wouldn’t boot. The hard drive made a clicking sound. (click-click click-click click-click, kind of like the click it makes when it first starts up normally). I pulled off the panel and jiggled the power and data cable. I was not able to boot into windows normally, but I was able to boot into safe mode without any clicking. I successfully accessed several files like text files and images, nothing was corrupted. So, I figured everything was OK but that the OS was messed up or something.

I didn’t think much of it. I had another hard drive in the computer with the same OS loaded onto it that I hadn’t used in about 3 years, so I just switched the data cable to the old drive, thinking that I would back up the files on the clicking drive when I found the time.

Today I tried accessing the clicking drive. I can’t access it at all. All it does is click. In fact, if I have it hooked up on the same cable as the drive I am using now, the computer will not boot–the main drive won’t be found by the BIOS.

I found some information suggesting that the power pins might be loose. I pulled the drive out and checked, they were not loose. I also read a suggestion to get a small hammer and bang on it. I’m not going to do that.


I’ll try that step of unplugging the data cable while leaving the power cable attached later.

I’ve had this computer for about 7 years now. I have never experienced a hard drive failure before.

Anyone have any suggestions, tips, or similar experiences?

I back up my critical data regularly. At most, I’ll lost about 9 days of critical stuff, since that was the last time I burned critical files to CDR. But, I do have a lot of other non-critical stuff on there that I would hate to lose. Pics, vids, mp3s, personal notes, etc. If there is anyway to find a fix for this problem at home, I’ll try it. I’m not interested in spending $200 - $300 to ship this off to get the data recovered. It isn’t worth that much. :frowning:

Also, does anyone know what kind of equipment professional data recovery companies use to recover data on hard drives? I’d be interested in learning more, but I haven’t found any real info.


Sounds like the click of death, which really is not outside the realm of possibility after 7 years. I toss hard drives after 2 or 3 at most.

Professional data recovery is alot closer to black magic than science. They use stuff that is generally commercially avaliable, but the good ones can work some insane stuff when it comes down to it. Note they also charge insane amounts of money to work said magic.

the only company i know of is ontrack data recovery: http://www.ontrackdatarecovery.com/

Ah, click of death. I learned a new term.

Do you know what causes those clicks? Is it repairable? If it were possible to get the drive repaired cheaply, I would consider it. But, that’s a big if.

haven’t had any personal experience but have a look at spinrite:

I’ve heard good things about it for harddrive recovery and it’s from this guy who is on a weekly podcast with Leo Laporte (who’s kind of an internet celeb) http://twit.tv/sn

I have experienced this many times both on my own and others computers. the click sound can be the read/write arm jumping and making those clicking sounds, or the platter have scratches, the preamp on the actuator is damaged or the firmware on the board is damaged.

What you can try to do is swap the board on the hd, buy the Media Tools Professional software or buy the [URL=“http://www.deepspar.com/products-ds-disk-imager.html”]Deepspar Disk Imager toolset :p, or try the free [URL=“http://hddguru.com/content/en/software/2005.10.02-MHDD/”]MHDD software or you could replace the head or the platter… (which may not be so easy and may not work anyway)

there is a lot of things you can try to do, but there is no guarantee it will work out well, but you would never know before you tried it, would you :smiley:

the easy way would be to hand it over to professionals but if you won’t spend $200-300 on it, this is out of the question because this will cost. And since the $200-300 barrier is broken with most of this, you are left with the free MHDD, and the choice of trying to repair it yourself…

almost forgot… try to look for a diagnostic/repair program on the hd manufacturers webpage…

The same for me, unfortunately i’m all to familiar with the clicking sound from a hard drive. I have had it a couple of times already…

One thing to try hook the “suspect broke” hdd to the computer using as a primary slave, with a new hdd with sufficient capacity (enough for windows + capacity of old drive). Boot the PC using a start-up disc (if your pc has a floppy drive) and see if the D drive is recognised, if it is, create a new folder on the C drive and completely copy over what it can from the d drive to the folder on the c drive.

Its dead jim.

Thanks for the advice. But, the hard drive clicks non stop as soon as it is plugged in.

I will give it a try anyway.

I’ll see if you can make a startup disk in Windows XP then try and boot from Floppy.

In case anyone is curious, this is kind of the sound my hard drive is making:

I wonder if it is just a bad arm.

More vids:

The Youtube profile of the author of the vid above:

It looks like he also discusses solid state drive data recovery (flash drive). Should be interesting to watch. I absolutely love learning new things! :smiley:

I’ll just update this post with more interesting videos when I find them.

According to http://myharddrivedied.com/presentations.html#MAKE_YOUR_OWN_CLEAN_ROOM_-_CHEAP , it is possible to make your own “clean room” which would be sufficient for working on hard drives.

Your HD is dead…Simply buy a new one

ditto to what was said. if you have info on it that you want to recover you can google search for data recovery companies… ship it out to them and they will recover the data… can be pricey, just shop around.

Yes for data recovery… there are many companies that recover data for sure… and they will charge you for you required data only…

Actually, I followed the advice from the hard drive data recovery expert in his video lecture and I pulled it out of the computer and tipped it outside down. I got it to work. I do have a few sector errors on it, so I’m going to try and image it in reverse.

Yeah, the drive is toast. But, I’m hoping to recover some data off of it.

I’m going to download this package of Linux utilities.


It’s got a nifty little program on it called ddrescue that will image a drive in reverse and will try to reread bad sectors a few times so it can attempt to recover that data. Or so I’ve read.

Now I just got to deal with command line stuff… I haven’t done that since probably 1993 or so with DOS. :shifty:

I actually had the same thing happen with my laptop recently. I lost a couple months of personal videos and pictures and a couple random work pieces not backed up onto the external drive but hadn’t had much luck in recovering it myself. Mine went from working fine to dead in 5 minutes. Mind you she was 8+ years old as well (bought refurbished). I’ll have to try my hand at a couple of the things you found as well. Perhaps we can figure this out without going broke eh?

My hard disk met a similar fate a few months back. It sent out ample signals though, before it bit the dust. Initially, it would boot fine but would complain (click, click, click…) upon launching heavy programs such as PhotoShop. However I paid no heed to the signals and after some time it refused to boot up altogether costing me one week’s data which I hadn’t backed up. I decided to put it down to experience :

  1. Replace a disk once it outlives the age of 4.
  2. When it starts making clicking sound, respond as soon as possible by immediately backing up the data and replacing the disk.
  1. Enable S.M.A.R.T. detection and replace the hard drive as soon as SMART detects that failure of the hard drive is imminent.

I would have to agree with the majority, and say that the chances are, your hard drive is DEAD. Always backup!

On those couple of occasions where I have had that happen to a hard drive the drive has lasted long enough for me to copy the data across to a new drive using Partition Magic. I have made the copy immediately it started clicking each time because once it starts doing that the life of the drive is extremely limited.

I also have backups of all the data and so if the drive did fail completely before I managed to copy everything I would still be able to recover back to where I was, it would just take a bit longer to do so.