Is your hard drive making a clicking noise (the “click of death”)? Based on what you may have heard, maybe you are thinking it’s game over for getting your data back? This is not necessarily true.
The first thing people (this includes computer companies and IT professionals) think of at this point is: “It needs to be opened in a clean room”. This isn’t necessarily true either.
Example of Repeating Clicking HardDrive Noises (Audio)
Video: Explanation of Why a Hard Drive Clicks and How To Get Your Data Recovered Safely
Audio of the video above discussing the elements that can cause a hard drive to click:
We’ve addressed two fables about a hard drive clicking that can be settled right now. It’s NOT game over. The lid of your hard drive doesn’t necessarily have to be opened in order to recover your files.
Opening the lid of a hard drive safely would require a clean room, and you will only open a hard drive when in fact you know the heads are damaged, or to check the platters when there is no other explanation for lack of access to the service area. In other words, it’s always a last resort, not the first.
TIP: If the clicking is continual, or causes the drive to spin down, it is going to require temporary repair. In order to recover the data, the drive will have to be restored to working condition similar to before the failure. Recovering data from a drive in this condition will require advanced hard drive repair utilities, experience, and knowledge only professional data recovery companies like SERT possess.
That clicking sound (not beeping) is the actuator arm assembly returning back to its parked position forcefully, because it doesn’t know where to go, and can’t initialize.
If this happens too many times, it will cause damage to the read/write heads rendering the drive useless, and data inaccessible without a head swap. The actuator arm assembly has the read/write heads attached to the end of it, and is the mechanism responsible for reading data from, and writing data to the platters.
Tip: Running a clicking drive for any time without knowing why, and being able to fix it, can cause a bad situation to become worse, and more expensive to fix.
Repairing a clicking hard drive is going to require, first and foremost, an accurate hard drive diagnostic to determine what failure is causing the arm to click.
This is the most important step in getting your data off a clicking hard drive.
Depending on what caused the clicking, your data may be in danger without following proper data recovery procedures.
These are the major causes of the dreaded clicking drive sounds we recover data from on a daily basis.
A few actual requests from our clicking hard drive quote request form:
Freezer Trick: Do not listen to other inexperienced individuals or YouTube videos telling you to stick the drive in a freezer. Do not open the drive to inspect it either. These are the worst two things anyone can do. Without data recovery experience with drive in these conditions, you will likely fail to help your situation, and instead make it worse.
Running Software: Running software on a drive that is failing due to physical malfunction will only cause the drive to fail faster, and further beyond recovery. It is not recommended to keep running the drive using software. This usually causes inadvertent, and often unknown, damage to the platters. If there is a hardware problem inside the drive, it must be repaired before any software will recognize the drive, and have access to it.
Without the right diagnostics equipment, and at least intermediate experience, the majority of issues that will cause a drive to make these noises is going to require attention by a professional.
Open the Drive: The drive will need to have it’s heads replaced, or the firmware repaired, in order for the drive to initialize properly and allow access to your data. Do Not open the drive to look inside.
This is a temporary fix in order to recover your files from the drive. The drive will never be trust worthy again.
Unfortunately in the situation where a drive is clicking because of damaged platters, recovery efforts will usually be unfruitful.
If a new read/write head stack is transplanted in a drive with damaged platters, the likelihood of the platters damaging the new heads (also) is very high. If the heads are damaged they will not work either, when put back in the donor drive. They will likely exhibit the same type of symptoms and failure as the patient drive.
Depending on the damage and where it is, the platters may be able to be cleaned, or “washed”. Data recovery this way, however is a very difficult and expensive process. If the platters are damaged from contact with the heads, then the percentage of success of this process will lower, and potentially could be unrecoverable already.
Laptops, external drives, and desktops are all vulnerable to this kind of hard drive failure. We’ve seen drives from all manufacturers: Seagate, Samsung, Western Digital, Fujitsu, Toshiba, and Hitachi all having symptoms described above.