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Hard Drive Clicking Noises

Hard Drive Clicking Noise

When a hard disk drive develops a clicking noise this is generally a consequence of the head actuator assembly returning sharply to its home position under a read failure condition.

When a hard disk drive is first powered on it initiates a sequence of mechanical self test algorithms. A failure of any of these test routines results in an error code being generated and a number of retries that result in a clicking noise.

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The algorithms are a number of simple pass fail routines that pretest the hard disk drives mechanical functionality prior to normal operation. Each time the drive ticks it is resetting the position of its read write head before initiating the self test algorithms. In cases like this it is the actual read write heads of the hard drive that have failed. These will need to be replaced with a working set of heads before the drive will start to function again properly.

Dropped Portable Hard Disk Drive

When you drop or knock a hard disk drive you will more than likely permanently disturb the read write head assemble enough to interfere with the factory settings. In a worst case the knock will cause the read write head slider to vibrate against the platter surface and then remain at an inoperable distance.

In most cases the hard disk drive will exhibit a sharp clicking noise commonly referred to as a a mechanical failure.

Latest laptop and external hard disk drives include sudden motion sensors (SMS) that control the auto parking of the read write head assembly in order to prevent permanent damage and drive failure.

Corrupt Hard Drive Service Area Firmware.

The hard disk drive service area or firmware controls its operation in a similar fashion to the operating system of a computer.

This firmware stores parametric references for the hard drives successful operation. For the hard drive to initialize successfully the platter motor must rotate at a precise speed. The motor speed setting is a function of semi permanent data written to the hard disk platters during manufacture and transmitted by its read write heads as control data to the device servo circuit. If this control data is not available (head failure) or corrupt the head actuator will will fail to read valid control data and will return sharply to its home position with a distinctive “click” and the motor will spin down. The operating system or BIOS will produce an error report and a number of retries will normally take place, the result of which is a repetitive clicking sound. In the majority of cases the read write heads are damaged and will need replacing for the hard drive to become operational.

Recovering Data from a clicking hard disk drive.

To recover data stored on a clicking hard disk drive that fails to become ready it is generally necessary to replace the damaged read write head assembly and/or reset the corrupt service area of the drive.

During the diagnostic phase of the data recovery process the hard disk drive will have been opened and examined in a clean room or clean air cabinet environment.

The read write assembly compatible part information referenced and a replacement assembly fitted. Once dis-assembly/reassembly work is completed the hard disk drive must have other functional control data attributes restored such that the hard drive can read the raw data as written to the disk drives platters in what is called data sectors.

Specialist test gear is then used to extract and transfer this data to an alternative digital storage environment where its native file structures can be examined and tested using applications such as Word, Excel, Sage, Photo Shop etc.,

Once your data has been examined and tested a file listing will be made available to you, your data transferred to an external hard disk or similar ready for transportation.
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