Typical Sounds A Hard Drive Will Make When Failing

During all my years of working around PC’s I have learned to not only monitor for the visual cues of the onset of problems; but to also monitor for the audio cues, as well.  For example, if I am assisting someone on a PC that may be experiencing problems, I am lost if there is not a hard drive LED light to monitor the activity of the hard drive.

Just this past week, and I plan to elaborate further in another article, I assisted someone with removing data from a hard drive that was diagnosed by a computer tech as being dead. When I got hold of the drive, I performed an old (and very questionable trick), to get the drive to spin up; and, performed a little known desperation move to actually retrieve the data.

Hard Drive Failure

Again, that is another story, but there was a very noticeable sound when I fired this drive up. It was a sound, based on my experience of being around PCs, that definitely was not good. The drive was emitting a periodic clunking noise which indicated a problem with the head mechanism in the drive. Believe me, I am no tech expert, but when I heard that sound I knew the drive was on the verge of death.

It is easy for me to describe the sound, but what are the typical sounds a hard drive will make when failing?

To give you an idea of how a hard drive actually sounds when it is failing, I encourage you to visit the web site Data Cent. They have actually recorded the sounds of failing hard drives, from a variety of manufacturers (such as Western Digital, Seagate, Maxtor, Samsung, Hitachi/IBM, Toshiba, Fujitsu, and Quantum).

If you are someone that is working toward becoming a computer tech, I encourage you to visit the Data Cent site [ HERE ] to hear the excruciating pains being emitted from these hard drives. When you get to the site, turn up your speakers and click on the small arrows to hear the sounds. Once you hear those sounds, you will not forget them…


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5 thoughts on “Typical Sounds A Hard Drive Will Make When Failing

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    1. Bill,

      You got it… I thought what the heck, let’s try this. The 2nd thing I did was very unusual and I’ll put that in the upcoming writeup… P.S. It is still cold here.



  1. Instinct for sounds is a gift mostly developed and I’m glad you have it Rick. I wouldn’t be surprised if you know by instinct the sound of a failing vehicle clutch.
    I once said to a friend that his clutch sounds bad and after he had it checked, it was near breakdown.


  2. Pochp,

    Been awhile, but I do remember that sound (and slippage) of a clutch. Amazing when we hear an unusual sound; especially something mechanical, how we will tune into it.



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