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several hard drives, 1 "click of death" sound. how to figure out which?

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October 14, 2013 5:34:15 AM

I have 4 internal hard drives. I've been hearing the 'click of death' for the past couple weeks. Luckily, my computer is still able to run sometimes (although not very smoothly). I want to back up my files onto the other hard drives, but then I realized I don't know which hard drive is doing the click of death.

I don't know a lot about computers and I've recently just researched about the 'click of death'. It's safe to assume what I am hearing is the click of death as all symptoms point to it. I can write about my symptoms if needed. However, my problem is that I have 4 hard disk drives. The sound is also inconsistent and it comes and goes, but the symptoms are shown.

So my question is, how do I find out which hard drive is doing the 'click of death' sound?

I'm not sure what other information I need to provide so feel free to ask the necessary questions and I'll do my best to provide a detailed answer. And hopefully I can get quick responses before my hard drive fails completely and I have no chance to back up my files
October 14, 2013 5:36:30 AM

I've been thinking and I'm not sure if I explained myself properly or if I asked the right questions.

* To state it simply, I have 4 hard drives and I'm hearing the click of death. I want to back up my files on the working hard drives if the other hard drives have no problems. How do I find out which hard drive is creating the 'click of death' sound.

If i was a bit unclear or there are different ways to answer the problem, maybe my follow-up questions can better show what I am trying to say:

- Does the click of death only happen to the main hard drive with the operating system running on it? Or is it possibly that my main hard drive is healthy, and my other hard drives (which i just use for storing more files) is the one doing the click of death? If that's possible and it's not the main hard drive, would the symptoms be the same where the computer slows down and sometimes even crashes?

- Is it possible to have 2 or more hard drives doing the click of death? I've never heard multiple clicking sounds at the same time but maybe one drive is clicking for a few minutes and stops, and when there is the clicking sound again it is done by another drive? Is that possible?

- One of my 4 hard drives also has an operating system, if that matters. I'm using XP now and one of my other hard drives has windows Vista on it, but i've never used it ever since I took it from my brother 1 year ago so I'd have more space to store my files. I'm mentioning this in case anyone answers "the hard drive with the operating system on it is the only one possible of doing the click of death and slowing down the computer"

- Basically, is there a way to test which hard drive is doing the 'click of death' sound, something I can do myself? Or even if I take my computer to the store, I'm curious on how they can figure it out without ruining the other hard drives? I mean, the sound comes and goes inconsistenly. Is there a SAFE way to force the click of death sound so as to find out which hard disk is responsible?


I apologize if I am rambling or asking silly questions, but I really am in panic mode and time is of the essence. I'm just afraid my hard disk drive will fail anytime now and I'll lose some of my files permanently, so please be understanding.
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a b G Storage
October 14, 2013 5:52:30 AM

The easiest way is to remove the cables from all hdd's EXCEPT your boot drive. Restart with just boot drive and see if you get the click with just that drive. If not, connect a second drive and repeat test (leave boot drive connected). If no click, DISCONNECT that drive and connect drive 3 - repeat as needed until you find the dying drive.

Mark
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October 14, 2013 5:57:00 AM

Ok , Lets simplify this abit

4 X disk drives running as individual drives

1 is your primary OS ( XP )
1 has a secondary OS ( vista unused)
2 are data only

I'm assuming these are all SATA Drives The intermittent click would probably be caused as one of the drives is accessed ( Ie you are using Files stored on that particular disk) Sadly as your using Windows XP your drives will not be hot Swappable ( no native AHCI support in XP if i recall)

To find out which disk is offending you are going to need to unplug one power cable at a time from a hard drive and they try using the machine (access lots of data stored all over the place) until you get a click
You will be able to identify which configuration does not include a clicking drive by alternating which drive is unplugged . Just make sure you power off your machine each time you change which drive is unplugged.

You can even to test your Windows XP drive by booting into the Vista Partition with the xp drive unplugged.
However as the click is intermittent its less likely to be this drive.

best of luck
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a b G Storage
October 14, 2013 7:11:29 AM

markwp is correct that would be the best way to track down the bad drive.
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October 14, 2013 7:14:13 AM

Thank you markwp and synthaside for the solutions.

Out of curiosity though, could you verify an answer to one of my questions.
I have 4 drives, as mentioned. The solutions suggest that I test each drive to see which has the problem
So does that mean that even if the "click of death" is being created by a drive OTHER THAN the main primary drive with my OS, the symptoms would still be the same?
So if my primary drive with the OS is healthy, and one of my other drives (which is only used for storing data) is doing the 'click of death', the computer problems would be similar to my main drive doing the click of death?
So if a drive used only for storing files goes bad, it would still create my computer to slow down trememndously? Symptoms such as the startup taking very long, and opening/loading programs lag and take much longer to load than usual.
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October 14, 2013 7:21:22 AM

markwp said:
The easiest way is to remove the cables from all hdd's EXCEPT your boot drive. Restart with just boot drive and see if you get the click with just that drive. If not, connect a second drive and repeat test (leave boot drive connected). If no click, DISCONNECT that drive and connect drive 3 - repeat as needed until you find the dying drive.

Mark


Thanks again for the idea. A follow-up question though:
Is there a way so SAFELY force the click to appear?
This is because my computer has good days and bad days. Sometimes the click appears every hour, and sometimes I can go a whole day using the computer without the click appearing. The symptoms are still all there so I do know there is a problem even without the clicking happening every single hour.
I'm just afraid to try your idea with little result if by chance the clicking does not appear on any of the drives during the time I try this method.
So if I may ask in advance, is there a way to safely force the click to appear?

Or perhaps do you know what symptoms a hard drive may have if that hard drive is doing the "click of death"?
Is it possible the windows file explorer may hang or be slow when opening directories on that particular drive alone? Maybe copying files into that drive will take longer than copying files into other healthy drives? Or copying files FROM that drive? Or any ideas on other clear-cut signs which shows that particular drive as the failing hard drive?
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October 14, 2013 8:04:45 AM

There's no real way to force a click to occur , other than try accessing data on that drive usually to save power your OS will spin down the drives is is not using currently to try to save power / the life of the drive ( which is limited )

So if you try browsing the drive accessing data stored on it , copying files to it forcing writes , but with an intermittent fault you can never ensure it will click
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a c 815 G Storage
October 14, 2013 8:21:55 AM

The longer you use or test a clicking drive, the sooner it will actually 'die'. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next year....no way to tell.

But you can't make a drive 'unclick'. Find out which one it is, and get whatever you need off of it. Sooner rather than later.
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October 14, 2013 11:16:01 AM

Any thoughts on the question I asked about symptoms/signs of a hard drive that produces the clicks? Not only signs of a bad hard drive, but perhaps signs SPECIFICALLY for a hard drive which has the "click of death"?

Or on the question I asked before that post?
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a c 234 G Storage
October 14, 2013 4:09:42 PM

Have you accessed the SMART data for all of your drives?

Yogi
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October 15, 2013 11:43:35 AM

So here's the upadate.

I downloaded SeaTools for Windows.
Before running the tests, I closed all aplications, as suggested.
I ran the S.M.A.R.T check on all 4 drives; all 4 passed.
I ran the "short drive self test"; all except for the Maxtor drive passed.
I then ran the "Short Generic" test at the same time; all 4 passed but the Maxtor drive took the longest (over a minute more than the others) even though it was first in queue.

I also checked the drive information on each one of the drives. Maxtor had the longest "Power-on Hours" with 47369 hours. The others had 16009, 15921, and 28381.

Is it safe to assume that the Maxtor drive is the drive doing the clicking? Being that the maxtor hard drive is the only one not to pass the short drive self test, and its power-on hours are more than double the others apart from 1 drive (but still nearly 20000 hours differnce on that drive), is it then safe to assume that the Maxtor hard drive is the one doing the clicking sounds?

On a side note, I remember asking a question in my previous posts but it's yet to be answered, so I'll bring it up again in case it may be relevant. If a hard drive OTHER THAN the main drive (with the OS) does the clicking, are the symptoms exactly the same as if it was the main drive doing the clicking? Symptoms like the computer taking triple the amount of time to get to the startup screen as it usually does, or opening programs such as firefox is twice longer, etc.
I mean in hindsight, if the symptoms are not similar then it's possible to assume that my main hard drive is definitely the one doing the clicking?
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a c 885 G Storage
October 15, 2013 7:46:23 PM

I just put my finger on the drive, you can usually feel the clicks. And yes its possible to have them all clicking thou rare.

As for the answer you are seeking is it depends on what you have loaded. Perhaps you have some drivers or startup apps loaded on other drives that are being called in or maybe your antivirus is quick scanning all drives during windows startup. Things like this would add to the overall startup time.

Since you used Seatools, I'll assume you have some seagate drives. If any of them are newer then please check for a firmware update which is supposed to help with that problem.
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October 16, 2013 12:47:37 AM

popatim said:
I just put my finger on the drive, you can usually feel the clicks. And yes its possible to have them all clicking thou rare.

As for the answer you are seeking is it depends on what you have loaded. Perhaps you have some drivers or startup apps loaded on other drives that are being called in or maybe your antivirus is quick scanning all drives during windows startup. Things like this would add to the overall startup time.

Since you used Seatools, I'll assume you have some seagate drives. If any of them are newer then please check for a firmware update which is supposed to help with that problem.


Putting my finger on the drive? I've never thought of that. So simple and yet you're the first person from over 30 comments on 3 different sites to suggest so. Thank you!

As for the startup, I haven't done anything new for over 2 weeks and then one day my startup time tripled in length (after the first "click of death" sounds started).

As for my drives, I have:
1) maxtor 6l200m0 (the main hard drive with the OS)
2) st3250820as (harddrives 2, 3, 4 are the same)
After some research, I confirmed they are Seagate drives, yes.
And I'm not really looking for a solution on fixing the drive. My main goal was to identify the clicking drive so as to back up the files on that drive, and then throw that drive away.
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Best solution

a c 234 G Storage
October 16, 2013 5:32:57 AM

Your OS boot times have increased significantly and the Maxtor is the drive with the OS which is principally responsible for loading the OS. Strike one for Maxtor

The Maxtor failed the Drive Self Test and took the longest time to run the short generic test. Strike 2 for Maxtor.

A hard drive is an electromechanical device and as such, all will eventually wear out and fail. The Maxtor has, by far, the longest service life of all of the drives and is most likely to fail. Strike 3 for Maxtor!

I would get rid of the Maxtor and proceed from there!

Yogi
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