View Full Version : Hard Drive going, "bzzzzzz.."

15-12-2003, 03:11 PM
It all started not so long ago when I turn on my machine I get this high pitched buzzing noise. It’s my Western Digital Caviar making the noise, and it has me worried. I've only had the thing for a year, so it shouldn’t be giving hassles...should it?

It happens every other time I power on, then stops after a few minutes of 'on time'.

If its of any relevance, this is my Primary HDD.

Any words any body can say about this?


15-12-2003, 03:15 PM
Are you sure it's not a loose mounting screw? It could be a possiblity.

15-12-2003, 03:55 PM
Its a concern.

Look on the WD website, see if they have a free diagnostic program.

HDD simply don't last like they used to, but at least they are cheap.
To be on the safe side, back up your important data now.

15-12-2003, 04:19 PM
Are you sure it's not one of the fans in the PC (CPU/PSU etc) as I have seen this often and it's been a fan full of dust! Clean and lube and it's fixed.

15-12-2003, 07:01 PM
Thanks for all the help so far guys!
I’ve tightened up the mounting screws. Turned the pc off, let it cool for a while, tried starting the computer again, but the ruddy noise came back.

I'll go through each of your suggestions and see what happens,

I'll keep you posted.

Thanks again.

15-12-2003, 07:13 PM
Juat to reinforce what has already been posted...

Stop everything and take evasive action(and no i dont mean grab three quaters of a milluon dollars and hide in a hole)Back everything up that is importent,if your drive is going to fail it could happen anytime.

Then start to diagnose the problem.

The first step after backing up is to unplug the hd and power up your machine,if noise is gone then you know 100 percent its at fault.

And once harddrives go bad then they only get worse,.....

15-12-2003, 07:39 PM
You don't have a domestic electric fan, frig or other electric motor running in the area. Had a fright a couple of weeks ago, neighbour started up one of those leaf vacuum cleaners just outside the window and the top of the computer base unit started vibrating at the same time, had visions of a hard drive failure so promptly shut down at the same time as the neighbour stopped the cleaner. Started the computer later and got all the normal sounds. This may sound daft but put a weight like a block of wood on top of the base unit to alter the natural frequency and see if it makes any difference

15-12-2003, 08:09 PM
OK heres my update:

Went to the WD site, downloaded a whole bunch of apps data lifeguard etc, ran a few tests, it says everything’s cool... I think I'll run some more intensive tests...

As for backing up, this HDD is strictly for windows and apps, (my Seagate which I've had for twice as long, has all my work and stuff I need on it) So if the HDD we're talking about now goes to the dogs... its sad but no great loss.

About the dusty fan suggestion, I went over all components a little while ago before putting in a new motherboard so all components are reasonably clean.

And lastly…nope, nothing that could be vibrating, I’ve tried all my usual tricks of pushing the chassis in places, altering layout of things, eventually smacking stuff around but can concluded there are no loose items that are vibrating, similarly no machines around that may be contributing to a rattle.

The noise I guess can be described as a sort of usual sound for a HDD to make... (I think.) I.e. it may make a similar sound when writing or powering off. However, what is not normal is for it to be making these sounds during boot up. They do go away after about 2 mins though.

Ok, so I’ll try a few more tests unless there are a few more suggestions from people?
Otherwise I’ll run it till it fails. Hopefully it happens sooner rather than later… Christmas coming up you know.

Thanks again.

Susan B
15-12-2003, 09:25 PM
> I've only had the thing for a year, so it shouldn’t be giving hassles...should it?

No, it shouldn't. Might pay to advise/have a chat with the supplier in case it needs to go back under warranty. Don't leave it too long.

15-12-2003, 10:11 PM
Simple question.

When its making the "noise", is the HDD access light on continuously?
If so, its HDD access - could be software related.
If not, its probably bearings.

15-12-2003, 10:54 PM
To me it almost sounds like a platter is not running true until the machine warms up enough.

16-12-2003, 08:56 AM
> To me it almost sounds like a platter is not running
> true until the machine warms up enough.

If a platter was not running "true" to the extent it was making a noise, then the drive would instantly fail.

The heads run a few microns above the platter, and any wobble of the platter vertically would cause an immediate head crash, physically damage the head and surface of the disk - and its all over.

Any platter wobble axially would cause sustained data errors, and thats not happening.

16-12-2003, 09:31 AM
Try powering down your PC and unplugging your hard drive's power. If the noise continues, it's a fan. If it stops, time for a new hard drive.

16-12-2003, 09:34 AM
Tracking source of a noise can be tricky. Have you tried the Mechanics trick of a long insulated screwdriver used like a stethoscope, screw end to the case, handle pressed to your ear. Once had a similar buzzing sound which was eventually traced back to a surge board, it erratically run just during the first couple of minutes of powering up and was very annoying.

16-12-2003, 11:15 AM
>If so, its HDD access - could be software related.
If it was software related they would have heard the noise right from the beginning. I had some one quite a few years ago with the same problem and they ended up wrapping an electric blanket around the PC to keep it warm when off.

16-12-2003, 12:36 PM
>> If it was software related they would have heard the
> noise right from the beginning.


Any faulty/offending software may not have been installed then.

16-12-2003, 01:06 PM
the same thing happed to me. it isnt the hard drive probably. it it an ultra small form factor case? is it vertical on a stand? try putting it under the monitor. it worked for me :D

16-12-2003, 02:00 PM
Usually the biggest thrash a hard drive will get is on bootup and close down so I fail to see how any other software could produce any noise that wouldn't have been heard on the normal boot process.

16-12-2003, 07:52 PM
To answer some of the questions posted by you guys about my problem:

Upon boot up, the sound is a consistent buzz, so not synchronous with the HDD LED. So would ring true to Godfathers statement that it might be the bearings.

I did the trick of removing the power to the HDD. Boot up commenced without the noise, concluding that it is the HDD we're talking about.
And to answer Megaman’s question, the drive is lying perfectly flat in a full ATX case, properly secured.

More to add to the saga is that the noise doesn’t disappear anymore after boot up, but is still there, even now as I write this up. It seems to change frequencies ever so slightly, but is consistently buzzing away. Metla said it would get worse, and it has!

Recently when I powered down the PC to remove the Molex connector to the disk, the shut down sound it made was unsettling, to say the least! The best I can describe it; is like a tiny helicopter landing, like: 'zip' 'zip' 'zip' till eventual silence. I imagine as the platters came to rest.

OK, do like Susan said and make a warranty claim now.
The people I get my PC stuff from are going to start to wonder about me. Only 2 weeks ago I claimed warranty for my motherboard. They’re gonna start to think I deliberately break my stuff or something.

Thanks for all your help guys,
If you feel up to it, keep posting stuff, I’ll be sure to keep a watch on this thread.

Thanks again.

16-12-2003, 09:35 PM
If the hard drive has SMART features the noise you hear may be the drive doing diagnostics.

Over time the tests become more frequent and more noisy.

When you were at the site getting utils etc, did one of them give you a status report from the drive, i.e. Read the SMART data? If so have a look.

One of the SMART tests is an agressive "head stroke" that can sound like the noise you have mentioned.

16-12-2003, 10:16 PM
> One of the SMART tests is an agressive "head stroke"
> that can sound like the noise you have mentioned.

Good thought, but wouldn't account for the sound as it spins down on power down.

My money is on bearings. Its getting worse, quickly. It will soon stop. Permanently.

16-12-2003, 11:07 PM
I tried out the suggestion of disabling SMART on my HDD.
Then powered off to let the pc cool for a while (I’ve noted the noise changes pending pc temp) but upon power up... no change unfortunately.

Although the noise right now is only barely noticeable, I am now convinced (as many a pressf1 user has stated), its only going to get worse!

But thank you for that thought ugh1.

16-12-2003, 11:19 PM
Go for the electric blanket if you want to save dollars. :D

16-12-2003, 11:33 PM
Is the hdd making an odd “click” or “tick” every few min’s like every 5 - 10 min’s it does a funny click…

If so, I suggest you backup your most important information NOW! & Take in to a PC repair shop/ or guy.

16-12-2003, 11:37 PM
also do you have a backup of your important information eg documents e-mail etc...?????

see here for a list of thing to backup