Professional Data Recovery Since 2003

Got A Clicking Hard Drive? What Does It Mean?

Why Is My Hard Drive Clicking?

That is probably the first thought that might run through a person’s head.  When they hear the familiar repetitive clicks coming from their computer or external hard drive. A hard drive that clicks or makes any unusual noises can do so for a variety of reasons. The clicking sound is mostly the base of the actuator arm hitting a limiter. As the heads sweep back and forth across the platter surface they hit the limiter that keeps them from going too far in either direction. If the drive cannot detect the data it needs to in order to calibrate, it will usually spin down after a few tries.

A Clicking Hard Drive Is Not Always As Bad As It Sounds

Just because your hard drive is clicking doesn’t always mean it has a major mechanical problem with it. Sometimes it can be a much easier, but still complicated fix. Corrupted firmware modules can cause a drive to click, because as the heads sweep across the platter looking for the data they need to calibrate, it’s either not recognized or doesn’t match up with what is stored in other areas of the drive.  For example, in many hard drives defect lists (known as G-Lists and P-Lists) are stored on the platters and on a chip mounted to the PCB. The data that is stored on the chip has to match up with what is stored on the platter. That’s why just swapping out PCB’s doesn’t work on most hard drives, because the data stored in the modules doesn’t match. And even if you have the original PCB, the drive can click if any of the other critical modules become corrupted within the System Area. This doesn’t mean there is a physical problem with the drive, such as the heads, it just manifests itself in a similar manner.

The Click Of Death

That is the common term used to describe a hard disk that is clicking.  A clicking hard drive is usually a sign of a major mechanical problem, except in cases like the one mentioned above where System Area corruption can also be a cause. If there is nothing logically wrong with the drive, then it is definitely a mechanical issue.

Mechanical problems can be related to physical and/or electrical component failures.  A physical hard drive failure would be a head crash…where the head actually comes apart and contacts the platter surface.  This can lead to extensive damage to the platters and sometimes render the data unrecoverable. Other causes can be electrical, but it can also effect the read-write heads. Electrical problems can be triggered by voltage surges, brownouts, and issues with the computer power supply just to name a few.

There are safeguards in the PCB, such as TVS Diodes, but they don’t always get the job done. If a power spike gets past them, it may short out the motor controller and other critical components including the headstack pre-amp. If the pre-amp is damaged, even if you get the PCB repaired the hard drive will still click and you will still need to swap the heads.




Data Recovery For Clicking Hard Drives

Our company is able to recover data from clicking hard drives…on every brand and model.  It doesn’t matter what the root cause of the failure is, we can still help you get your data back. We never charge an evaluation fee, and all of our data recovery work is backed by a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee.  For more information about our hard drive repair and data recovery services, don’t hesitate to call 1-800-717-8974.

If you need hard drive repair and data recovery, call 1-800-717-8974

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