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In my office there is a laptop dell inspiron 1420 with HD of 100GB of space. The computer is about a year old, and the hard drive has a weird and annoying ticking sound. The ticking sound starts after the pc is on for 15 minutes or so, but when it starts it does not stop.

We ran the dell hardware diagnostic and it reported the hd to be OK and pass all tests. We already did a full backup of the important information just in case it is the hd that is failing. Just wondering why it's making this noise (other than the obvious "it has a problem").

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up vote 19 down vote accepted

Its a time bomb

Backup the hard drive right now if you don't have a backup already (professionals should be taking regular backups of critical data anyway). You might also consider cloning the drive if you have the required software or hardware; both to ensure you have everything and to make a replacement drive.

I do not suggest shutting the drive off if possible; I have experienced TWO cases where once the PC was shut off the drive wouldn't boot up anymore. I've also experienced cases where it did boot up but took multiple attempts before it finally booted.

I've also had "ticking" hard drives that ran fine for 6-12mos before they finally bit the big one. YMMV!

The ticking noise is the drive parking the read heads in an effort to realign the heads.

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When a drive detects a bad sector/cluster, depending on the type and recoverability of the error, it will sometimes reset the head position. The head motor is reset, and it returns to its spring-loaded park position. As a result it moves way over to the side of the drive.

If it was far enough and was reset unexpectedly enough, the head swing arm hits the side of the drive casing. If it does it alot, then it's hitting alot of bad spots. Run a chkdsk and consider replacing the drive.

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Forget chkdsk, just recover everything you can to another drive. Bad sectors don't go away, they just breed. – John Gardeniers Aug 9 '09 at 22:21
But chkdsk can tell you which files have been corrupted – tsilb Aug 10 '09 at 0:11

My laptop drive started making noises like that about a year ago. I ran badblocks on it to see what it saw and it returned 80 or so bad blocks. I decided to give spinrite a go to see what it would do with the drive. I ran it on the highest level which checks all blocks on the drive including the ones marked bad by the drive itself and all spares. It ran for about 15 hours and I haven't heard any noises from it since. Running bad blocks on the drive now shows 0 bad blocks.

I would only do this on your drive under two circumstances. 1. If you already own spinrite. 2. If there's important data on the drive that's not backed up and you're having problems reading it off. Otherwise hard drives are cheap just replace it.

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I think you should look at replacing it. Spinrite may save the drive, but drives are cheap...after a year you could probably get a larger disk anyway. The only time I've heard a "tick" from the drive and not really worried was if the drive was going to sleep or waking firs thing and doesn't make the noise again during my work session. usually means something is resetting the disk.

Switch it out while you still can switch it out on your own schedule. Otherwise you'll be replacing it when it decides to crap the bed...

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It's a ticking time bomb! Backup your data immediately.

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protected by Chris S Jul 14 '13 at 2:31

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