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Impending Hard Drive Failure?

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May 16, 2009 12:35:40 AM

I've been reading up a lot lately and people seem to indicate that the hard drive "clicking" noise as it seeks / accesses or whatever the heck it's doing is a for sure sign of an imminent hard drive failure.

Unfortunately my 700gig media drive has started to do this every now and then. If I pause a movie that's loading off the secondary drive and wait 20 minutes or more and then resume it, the click will almost always happen. It also happens every now and then when loading music off of the drive.

I'm worried because I think I've hit this problem because I use this drive a ton. I put tons of movies (file sizes from 700MB to 12GB EACH) and music on this drive and it's almost at capacity (around 200GB left. which isn't technically almost at capacity but I can fill 200GB very easily so it's nearing capacity as far as I'm concerned) but nothing is fragmented. I defrag the files often and try to take care of the drive as much as I can so I'm not sure why my hard drive is experiencing this clicking and file loading lag.

I'm worried that in backing up this drive I will just break a newer one by transferring 700 GBs in one go from one drive to another. So I have a couple questions:

1) Is my 700GB destined to break or could it possibly recover from the "click of death" if i format it and then restore the contents back onto it?

2) Do I run a risk of breaking a new replacement hard drive by transferring consecutively, a very large amount of data onto it in a short period of time? (say, 700GBs from my current clicking drive plus maybe more from DVD backups)

3) Is there even an easy way to backup 700GBs of data without using a hard drive?

I would appreciate any advice on if / when to ditch and replace the 700GB drive if needed, how to go about backing up the data if it does need a replacement, and the best way to go about replacing it with a new very large drive and copying the contents of the 700GB to a new HD, probably a 1TB model.
May 16, 2009 4:39:12 AM

You wont break another Hard Drive by putting 700 GB of Data on it, thats what they're made for! And if you dont feel comfortable with all of your data in one place, then just buy a 1TB external hard drive. i got one for ~$150 and it auto backs up my stuff.
a c 87 G Storage
May 16, 2009 5:37:26 AM

I'm assuming you still have a warranty. You should:

1) buy a WD 1TB Green
2) Transfer the data
3) Start an RMA, wipe the data and return it.

Related resources
May 16, 2009 6:10:23 AM

Tsk,tsk,tsk,, :) ,,never defragging,ouch!!,,,
Now then you can go to AUSLOGIC.COM I think that is the site,sure of the name tho ,,and download the fastest defragger in the west,no fooling,,but,,it only defrags it does not sort,and once you have done that your transfer to another hdd will go a lot faster,,and do remember that in order to properly defrag a hdd it cannot be more than 80% filled[no free space to temp move stuff during defrag]..:) 
May 16, 2009 8:54:05 AM

I think you misread me I did actually defrag it multiple times but it's not a system drive just backup with lots of files so it doesn't fragment easily since all the files are thrown onto it and don't ever expand / contrast (and thus cause free space between two previously consecutive files, and thus causes fragments).

I appreciate the responses so far but I still have one question:

Is this hard-drive going to fail for sure in your opinion? Does it need to be replaced ASAP? In 3 months? In a year? Any ideas? It's not doing the clicking TOO often but i'm pretty sure I can make it happen if i want.
May 16, 2009 10:00:37 AM

That clicking noise after 20 mins is likely windows power management turning off the HD, so when you access it, it has to be started up again and that's normal. Try turning that off as I did. Turning a desktop HD on and off all the time is not good for it.

If you're that worried about HD longevity, buy server grade SATA HD like the Barracuda ES.2 from Seagate.
a b G Storage
May 16, 2009 12:15:26 PM

^Agree there, under Windows Power Management where it shuts the HDD off after a certain amount of time, set it to "never" or "always on".

If you still get a clicking noise, it MIGHT be your PSU......I had a drive that used to click clickety click, freeze, and act up all the time. I had copied everything off of it, but I just left it in the system and listened to clacking and clicking wondering when it would finally just completely quit. Until months later when my PSU died, I installed a better brand name PSU that was much higher on the Tier ratings, and presto.....my drive now works perfect, and has been perfect for over a year now. In fact it is now my OS drive. This was probably an isolated thing, but thought I would mention it.

Anyway, if the drive still acts up....you need to replace it immediately! It could die at anytime.....anytime, and take your data with it. It is simply as easy as buying another drive, plug it in, copy everything over to it, and take the old drive out, nothing hard about it.
May 17, 2009 8:14:39 AM

hey thanks a lot i never knew about that pesky setting. i'm going to give it a try and see what happens. I'll be sure to get back to you guys. I was rather astonished that a WD drive would take a turn for the worse so quickly, i'm glad to gear that the clicking might be resulting from the hard-drive just shutting off from non-use after an extended period. I mean usually either hardware ships completely broken or completely fine but it seemed like this drive was ready to be done after only a solid 10 months or so.
May 17, 2009 8:41:26 AM

advocat3 said:
hey thanks a lot i never knew about that pesky setting. i'm going to give it a try and see what happens. I'll be sure to get back to you guys. I was rather astonished that a WD drive would take a turn for the worse so quickly, i'm glad to gear that the clicking might be resulting from the hard-drive just shutting off from non-use after an extended period. I mean usually either hardware ships completely broken or completely fine but it seemed like this drive was ready to be done after only a solid 10 months or so.


Most MFG's have diagnostic tools available. So far, all I've seen in this thread is a lot of guessing.
a b G Storage
May 17, 2009 1:55:55 PM

I agree with croc. Download the tools from the manufacturer, burn them to a CD and boot from them and it will test the drive. But be warned, it will most likely wipe your drive, such as the tool from WD that writes a 0 to every available sector on a drive.

How are you planning on backing up all of that data? I hope not on DVDs!! That would take FOREVER!
a b G Storage
May 17, 2009 4:08:57 PM

Drive Backup:

Create an image file. The image file can be saved to another drive or broken down in separate disc (4.5GB for DVD, 25GB for Blue Ray disc).

Another hard drive can be a network drive or a USB drive.

Image files are a lot smaller and are compressed files. You can restore it based on the dates when the archives were done.

For XP -32 bit i use DRIVE-IMAGE which basically Norton-Ghost these days. On my new machines running vista-64 Ultimate i use ACRONIS DRIVE IMAGE.

ITS A GOOD PRACTICE TO IMAGE YOUR DRIVE/S:

Its not a question if your drive will fail(Eventually it will fail). It will for various reasons. So its a good practice to back up your files.

I have started using to BLUE-RAY disc as back-media due to bigger capacity. I have a total of 2.4 TB of drives so the image files are big.

I have an IMAGE FILE of c:/.... So when i need a fresh install it takes me 15 to 30 mins to rebuild my OS drive.
May 19, 2009 8:23:04 PM

I'm sure the OP did this, but may help others. Check the Event Viewer for disk problems.

(For XP)
Control Panel->Administration Tools->Event Viewer->System
Look out for red flagged disk errors - 7 or 11.

I think those diagnostic tools from the drive manufacturers are a waste of time.
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