Hard drive randomly clicks at boot-up; otherwise fine

The drive is a Samsung HD501LJ. It's connected to an ASUS P5N-E SLI motherboard. This drive passes every test I've thrown at it (except Samsung's own diagnostics which aren't compatible with this drive). S.M.A.R.T. information looks fine. The ONLY time it clicks is at boot-up, and it's fairly random, and when it does it will continue clicking and not be detected, slowing down the POST and everything else. If it's able to make it past the boot-up, it works perfectly.

A few things: It did the same thing on my older computer with an ASUS A7N8X Deluxe, but this clicking won't happen in an external enclosure.

Is this drive failing?

For what it's worth, I've got an audio clip of the sound here: http://www.supload.com/sound_confirm.php?get=308833065.wav

It sounds louder in that clip than it really is because I was recording close up to the drive.

So far, I've been unable to reproduce the problem when putting the system into standby and bringing it out. Would this be a useful thing to keep trying? I don't know the details about what happens when the system goes into standby but I hear the hard drives spinning down, and when I bring it out of standby the drive makes its trademark single click (with no further clicks, or just one or two more, rather than the continuous clicking that happens at boot-up sometimes).
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  1. I recently had a similar problem with my Asus laptop and a samsung drive. All of a sudden one morning all I got was clicking a message saying no boot disk. I figured my drive was dead so I took it in (under warrenty). Turns out it was just a connection problem with a loose connector. Try playing around with the connecter and maybe use some compressed air if there is a lot of dust gathered. Or maybe if you have another cable lying around try that.
  2. Thanks for the suggestions, kriztoff. Replacing the SATA cable was one of my first ideas, as well, and I tried switching it with one known to be working with other drives but it made no effect. I don't think it has anything to do with a loose connection, either.

    When the system fails to boot in this manner, there's a sure fix: to power it off and immediately power it back on. Then the drive will resume working normally until the next time the computer is shut down (and started up again).

    This is 500GB that I don't want to lose and I don't feel ready to buy another drive as I just bought this one in January. Long story short, this drive's warranty is void, so I'd like to try to get it working properly (all the time) rather than buy a new one.

    I also blasted some areas, including the hard drive's interfaces and the cables, with compressed air, but it didn't seem to help.

    I'll probably be experimenting with this for the rest of the day.
  3. Have you tried a different PSU? Is the warranty void because of physical damage to the drive?
  4. I'd try a different PSU but this is unnecessary because I've tested the drive with my previous and current computer, both with different power supplies, and it's produced the same problem.

    Yes, there is minor physical damage to the drive and for this reason I believe the warranty is void. A small part of the SATA interface's plastic (part of the shorter line) broke off during installation into the external enclosure, but the pins (if they're called that) suffered no damage.

    I'd like to think the drive is still usable but that could just be wishful. As I've said, once it has successfully made it through the boot-up process there are absolutely no problems with it when used internally.

    I used a tool on the Ultimate Boot CD to rebuild the MBR on the disk and so far it seems to have curbed the problem but it's probably just a fluke.

    ... And a fluke it was.

    + Anyway, it seems like the hard drive only fails to boot when the computer is started up "cold" - or when it has been off for more than a minute or so. Less than that and the drive will not fail, period. I got up the courage and tried something, though. I left the computer off for a few minutes as usual, unplugged the SATA cable from the drive, and turned the computer on. I got to a point where the computer was idle and I plugged the drive back in (while the computer was running). When I restarted the computer, it detected the drive, but shortly after detecting it the drive started clicking and failed again.

    I don't know what relevance that has... It's probably just a defective drive, end of story. I'll learn to live with it, and hopefully the new external enclosure I'm buying - due to its "always on" nature - will keep the problem to a minimum. In fact, my computer is basically "always on", anyway, so it's no big deal for me.

    I got the HDutil [edit: apparently it's HUTIL] tests to run - all were fine, and I ran through 15 loops, excluding the full surface read scan which I ran once. I tried messing around with the Automatic Acoustic Management options, setting them from None to Middle and Fast, but that didn't work. I'm about to try Quiet for completeness but assume it doesn't work either.
  5. I tried RMA'ing it even with the minor defect I accidentally caused and it was accepted. I got a replacement. It works fine. :D
  6. Quote:
    I tried RMA'ing it even with the minor defect I accidentally caused and it was accepted. I got a replacement. It works fine. :D

    Gotta love happy endings :D
  7. yes this could have ended up much worse. Good show!

    -The String
  8. Hehehe. Don't fret, people. It's not as good as it sounds.

    The hard drive is fine, sure, but now more problems have arrived. Disk controller errors in the event log for perfectly good disks that I've tested on other computers + freezing with Sandra physical disk benchmarks. :) I'd post another thread about this but I THINK I've isolated the problem to be the nVidia IDE drivers. I've uninstalled them and haven't had an issue since.

    For various reasons, I'm strongly considering returning this ASUS P5N-E SLI motherboard in favor of a non-nForce chipset. It's given me a lot of problems in the past few weeks. But when it works, I'm happy as a clam on prozac :)
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