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HDD seek noise - what is it?


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#1 Shreddy

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 12:03 PM

Hi everybody!
I've got a question concerning my hard drive and it's sounds. From time to time the harddisk in my computer makes this weird humming sound. I don't really know how to describe it (no, sorry, I can't record it). It doesn't sound abnormal to me, it's more like a soft seek noise. During that noise, the HDD LED does NOT show any hard disk drive activity. I'm sure, it's not a fan which makes this sound, because I opened my computer's case to listen clearly and it definitely came from the HDD.
It all started in August or September 2008, at least this is when I first heard the sound. I was very, very, very worried back then, because I thought something was wrong.
I contacted Western Digital's support team, but they didn't know either and told me it's probably fine, if there's no loss of performance. About one year later I found this video on Youtube: and found out the sound during 1:07 and 1:17 is almost exactly the sound my hard disk drive makes from time to time.
At first, the sound would come as soon as my PC finished booting and loading all the programs and during surfing the web. It would NOT stop when I opened a link in Firefox or pressed the refresh button to reload a certain site on the internet. One day the sound was gone and I didn't hear it again for a long time until 2013 when it suddenly decided to come back and occured whenever I finished listening to music using Windows Media Player for about an hour. I have no idea what it is. Nowadays it usually comes during idle and stays for about 15 to 30 seconds. The sound stops when I do something on my PC like loading something, scanning or starting a certain program (like HD Tune). I also think this is completely normal since it first came up almost 6 years ago and to be honest ... if it was NOT normal, my hard disk drive would have died years ago, wouldn't it? I just want to know WHAT causes.

Further information:
- the HDD is a WD2500JS from the Western Digital Caviar Blue Series (February 2007)
- OS is Windows XP Media Center Edition
- disk indexing is already disabled
- WD support doesn't know anything about that sound
- there's NO loss of performance when the sound occurs
- I've tried different antivirus software (Kaspersky and Avira Internet Security), so I doubt some kind of Idle Scan is responsible for the sound
- I do not use Spybot or similar scanning programs, which could be held responsible for a sound like that
- I ran Filemon when the sound occured, but was unable to detect the source of the sound since all the processes running were the same ones running when everything is silent
- Windows Task Manager didn't help me either ... 0% CPU usage during the sound
- there's no defragmentation sofwtare running in the background, at least not that I know of
- I ran CHKDSK and several other tests for hours which all came back fine

Does anybody know what that sound could be or what it means and why it's here? I would really appreciate that. I've been searching for the reason of the sound for years now.

PS: Sorry, for any grammatical errors I made. English is not my first language :-)



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#2 chawlam86

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 12:15 PM

For how long you are facing this issue?



#3 Shreddy

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 12:30 PM

For how long you are facing this issue?

 

Since 2008, though it stopped for some time... and came back in 2013



#4 Chris Cosgrove

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 12:39 PM

First of all - Welcome to BC !

 

A fascinating video !  First time I have ever seen what goes on inside a hard drive. I knew it went on, but I have never seen it.

 

As the author of the video explains, the read/write heads are driven by a servo motor. One of my hard drives makes a similar noise when I access it because it goes to sleep when not being accessed. It makes a sort of 'whirring' noise for a second or two then goes silent. I would not worry about it it as it is probably just a resonance, like an echo.

 

The only thing I would say is that, especially since you bought this drive in 2007, is make sure that you have your data backed up. Seven years is a good life for a hard drive and your data is the stuff that cannot be replaced - photos, work, music etc. - unless you have it backed up. I am not saying that your drive is about to die, you might get another seven years out of it, but backing up your data is a lot cheaper than trying to recover data from a failed drive.

 

Chris Cosgrove



#5 chawlam86

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 12:43 PM

You can try disk defragmentation and disk indexing.



#6 Shreddy

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 12:58 PM

First of all - Welcome to BC !

 

A fascinating video !  First time I have ever seen what goes on inside a hard drive. I knew it went on, but I have never seen it.

 

As the author of the video explains, the read/write heads are driven by a servo motor. One of my hard drives makes a similar noise when I access it because it goes to sleep when not being accessed. It makes a sort of 'whirring' noise for a second or two then goes silent. I would not worry about it it as it is probably just a resonance, like an echo.

 

The only thing I would say is that, especially since you bought this drive in 2007, is make sure that you have your data backed up. Seven years is a good life for a hard drive and your data is the stuff that cannot be replaced - photos, work, music etc. - unless you have it backed up. I am not saying that your drive is about to die, you might get another seven years out of it, but backing up your data is a lot cheaper than trying to recover data from a failed drive.

 

Chris Cosgrove

 

Thanks for the quick reply. If spinning down was the reason, I would notice this immediately. The HDD is accessible during the noise, there's no performance loss, everything's fine (power management says my hdd NEVER turns itself off during idle). Plus I used to surf the web when the sound appeared and everything worked just fine.

 

Concerning back-ups ... I do them once in a while whenever there's something important to save (I use an external hdd and two USB flash drives for back-ups) :thumbup2:


Edited by Shreddy, 20 March 2014 - 01:07 PM.


#7 Shreddy

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 01:00 PM

You can try disk defragmentation and disk indexing.

 

Disk indexing? You mean turning it on again? Cause I already turned it off years ago to make sure this doesn't cause the noise.



#8 OldPhil

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 01:52 PM

IMO it is past normal life expectancy, I swap drives at the four year mark and and have been told that can be iffy if it is worked hard.

 

The noise is the arms servo, it is so rapid it sounds continuous!


Edited by OldPhil, 20 March 2014 - 01:54 PM.

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