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I have a windows 7 box stashed away in my closet, containing (among other things) 2 big HDDs linked together as a mirrored volume - basically a super lazy NAS / media server. I've noticed that when that drive is accessed (whether locally, on the machine itself, or remotely, from another computer, or my xbox, for example) there's a noticeable pause, and then from the computer itself, a 'click!' noise, after which the drive is accessed; e.g. open \\computername\shared\, wait 2 seconds, hear 'click!' and then see files appear in windows explorer.

Any ideas? Otherwise the drive preforms normally - is it a windows thing? a HDD-about-to-die thing? Or a "yeah that always happens, you've just never noticed it before" thing?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Sounds like power management is allowing the disks to spin down due to inactivity. Whether or not that's going to impact the long-term reliability of the disks is something that's been debated in the community. (Personally I'd rather have the disks spinning 24 x 7 so that they're at a constant temperature but that's purely a personal opinion.)

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You know, I wondered if it was something like that - if that's the case, is it reasonable to assume that it's happening specifically because I'm setting up the mirror through windows' disk management, instead of doing an actual hardware raid1? – matt lohkamp Nov 14 '10 at 2:54
@Matt, no, it's the power settings in the control panel. Edit the current power profile and turn off power savings for the hard disks. – Chris S Nov 14 '10 at 3:05
Oh yeah, I didn't think of that - for some reason I always forget that it's not just laptops that have those options. I'll try that out today, and see if it makes a difference... I suspect that it will. – matt lohkamp Nov 15 '10 at 1:47
yep, you're right - I tried changing the hard drive timeout to like 5 minutes, and then it was happening all the time, same thing. Definitely just the power saver mode. Thanks! – matt lohkamp Nov 15 '10 at 5:09

If you hear more clicks in a short period of time than you have drives (so if there's just two drives, more than two clicks within a minute or so), it's probably a drive (or more than one) going bad. Check out the SMART data (system log may show errors, or try a program that reports SMART data) for problems.

If it's not this, it's almost certainly what Evan proposed.

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In my experience, a click is the first sign, then there is random clicks.... Followed by some grinds.... Ending in no noise :(

Check your drives with a tool such as hdparm

The answer regarding spindown is quite correct depending though on, how long the disks need to be saving power/rotations. My home server had 16 hours a day of non use (it was worth the spin down)

Hope this helps :)

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