Click of death is a term that became common in the late 1990s referring to the clicking sound in disk storage systems that signals the device has failed, often catastrophically. The phrase “Click of death” was coined by Mac journalist Tim Robertson, and later publicized by David Pogue. Originally the term was used to describe failing Zip drives, but hard disk drives also became prone to the symptom.
Clicking hard drives are commonly the result of a mechanical failure, more specifically a head crash. However, there are times when this symptom arises due to issues within the firmware, or system area, which prevent the drive from calibrating properly. In physical failures, the most common problem involves the read-write heads. Either the heads have become physically damaged, or have become dirty, or the preamplifier has failed. Unless the heads have started to come apart and contacted the platter surface, the problem is not as bad as it may sound. That’s not to say the recovery from these failures is easy, but the noise you hear tends to exaggerate the actual symptoms. When customers hear their drive clicking, they often times will visualize the head scraping, or crashing into objects within the drive. There are times when that is the case, however, most of the noise that is heard, is due to the head assembly hitting a limiter as it sweeps back and forth across the platters looking for the information it needs to calibrate. This limiter keeps the heads from sweeping too far across the platter.
Hard Drive Clicking Sounds
We have a few examples of the sounds you may hear when a hard drive has suffered a mechanical failure. Not all drives sound exactly the same, which is why many data recovery cases are unique. Just because a disk is clicking, does not necessarily mean there is a physical problem, so proper diagnosis is key. However, if your storage device sounds like any of the ones below and your data is important, do not power it up and risk doing further damage.
The important thing to remember is if your drive is clicking or making any unusual noises, you should not power up the drive at all. Continuing to operate the drive can cause further data loss. If you would like more information about our services and how we can help you when you hear the dreaded Click of Death, please call 1-800-717-8974.