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4 hard drives, "click of death" sound, how to find out which

by 4HDDclickofdeath / October 13, 2013 10:44 PM PDT

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

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All Answers

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added information
by 4HDDclickofdeath / October 13, 2013 10:45 PM PDT

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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The sensible thing to do ...
by Kees_B Forum moderator / October 13, 2013 11:02 PM PDT
In reply to: added information

would be to buy a 2 TB external disk and backup everything to it. Even better: buy 2 of these disks and backup to both. Then you are rather safe.

Having a good backup is a great remedy against panic. Alas, not everybody makes them regularly (which of course is the best, just in case of sudden failures). Just 2 days ago, I made a full image copy of my main PC to my backup PC. But it seems you don't until now.

Running the makers (of the disks) diagnostic tools seems a good idea to test the disks. This, for example, is the one for a Seagate disk: http://www.seagate.com/support/downloads/item/seatools-win-master/


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If you don't have a backup of the data you don't want to
by VAPCMD / October 13, 2013 11:33 PM PDT

lose, I'd recommend taking care of that first.

Once you've got the data backed up, then you can test to find the defective hard drive(s). If not, you might end up losing your data and have to load all the SW including the OS just to get backup and running.... not recommended unless you're a masochist.

Let us know how it turns out.


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how do i find the defective hard drive
by 4HDDclickofdeath / October 14, 2013 12:24 AM PDT

Thanks for the input.
However, you said "Once you've got the data backed up, then you can test to find the defective hard drive(s)."
So if I may ask, HOW do i test to find the defective hard drive responsible for creating the "click of death" sound?

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Re: find the defective drive
by Kees_B Forum moderator / October 14, 2013 12:28 AM PDT

I suggested to run the makers diagnostics. What's wrong with that suggestion?


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computer illiterate
by 4HDDclickofdeath / October 14, 2013 12:45 AM PDT

I apologize if I offended you.
To be honest, I skipped the suggestion because I didn't understand it Sad
I know A BIT about computers but on some topics i'm completely computer illiterate.

So when I read I should run the makers diagnostics, my head was completely blank hehe.
If I may then trouble you, could you be more specific on that suggestion?
Could you provie a step-by-step as if I have absolutely no clue what you mean?
I mean, do I have to find out what hard drive I own first? If so, do I have to open up my CPU or is there a method on finding out while my computer is already turned on? Do I then go to a particular website? What website would that be? Will googling it be enough? Then what what kind of test should I run?
I'm sorry but I really don't know what running the makers diagnostics mean, and how I start about doing that.

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Re: more specific
by Kees_B Forum moderator / October 14, 2013 5:53 AM PDT
In reply to: computer illiterate

1.Find out what hard disks you have. Device Manager seems a good source for that information. But it might be shown in the BIOS post info or in the BIOS setup also.
2. Go to the manufacturers sites and download their diagnostic program.
3. Run those downloaded programs against the right disk.

That's all. If you don't know what I mean with 'download a program' and with 'run it', I'm afraid this is no job to do yourself. However, be aware that the small print of any repair shop will say they are not responsible for your data, so there's a fair chance you'll lose something if you bring it to them. But if your disk fails you'll lose those same data also, so it's not really a difference.


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by 4HDDclickofdeath / October 14, 2013 6:32 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: more specific

thanks, i'm working on it now

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re: working on it
by 4HDDclickofdeath / October 14, 2013 7:44 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: more specific

So I've looked up device manager and found out the name of the hard drives.
1) maxtor 6l200m0 (the main hard drive with the OS)
2) st3250820as (harddrives 2, 3, 4 are the same)

I then did some research on google since I don't know what those names mean. If I'm not mistake, maxtor is SATA and st3250820as is Seagate/SATA.
So I proceeded to your next step.
I assume that both drives are/related to SATA/Seagate so I used the link in your first post to download the diagnostic tool for a Seagate disk.

After downloading the setup, it asks me that I need to have .NET framework 4 in order to run it, and it gives me a link which I go to and download .NET framework 4.
After downloading the setup, during the installation process of .NET framework 4, my computer started to make weird, small scratching sounds consinstent to every 3 seconds.
I'm not sure if I've heard this sound before or if it's normal, but paranoia starts to kick in. I also remember reading a post by VAPCMD in this thread saying: "But you want to do that while the drives are still working so running tests is not in your best interest", in reference to your suggestion on running tests.
Currently I'm a bit confused and paranoid, so I just want to confirm by asking, is it okay to continue with the installation and run the tests from the Seagate link you provided?
And so far from the steps that I've taken, is there anything else I missed or that I need to know?

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You can run Seatools without installing it
by Steven Haninger / October 14, 2013 8:39 PM PDT
In reply to: re: working on it

Get the Seatools .iso and burn that to CD. It is bootable. It will identify the hard drives and allow a variety of testing modes from short to very long. The short test is usually good enough to screen the device for mechanical defects, reallocated sectors, etc. You said one drive was a Maxtor. I'd not be at all surprised if that wasn't the troublesome one. My own experiences with Maxtor drives were not good. I never owned one but replaced many of them in customer machines. The only drive I dealt with that was worse was certain versions of old IBM Deskstar. IBM gave that over to Hitachi just as Maxtor was absorbed by Seagate. There's a reason for these things happening and I suspect poor reputation for reliability is one of them.

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Download disk diagnostics from WD & Seagate
by wpgwpg / October 14, 2013 12:29 AM PDT

Western Digital and Seagate have very good hard drive diagnostics you can download from their web sites. Do that and run them against all 4 drives to see which one has the problem.
Good luck.

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How about a stethoscope?
by Oldartq / October 14, 2013 3:52 AM PDT

I see you can get a inexpensive one for under $10.

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Oh, here is probably what I would do.
by Oldartq / October 14, 2013 4:14 AM PDT

Disconnecting the dc line to the Hdd. one at a time (except the boot drive). Of course you do this when the computer power is off. Good luck.

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the problem again is how :(
by 4HDDclickofdeath / October 14, 2013 4:24 AM PDT

thanks for the ideas, but i feel i still have a problem.

whether i use a stethoscope or your second idea of disconnecting the dc line to the hdd, i believe i will encounter a secondary problem: how do i then figure out which hard drive is going bad?
i say this because my cpu has not made any clicking noises for the past two days. however, this does not mean my cpu is fixed or has never made clicking noises.

so for the stethoscope, it would be helpful only if i can make it click without damaging it further.

as for testing the hard drives one at a time, i again ask how? how do i figure out which hard drive is bad through this method? what signs/symptoms can show me which hard drive does the clicks?

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Nod to the hard drive maker's test software.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 14, 2013 5:51 AM PDT

Let's go about this another way. Supply the exact make and model of the drive(s) and maybe a member will supply a link to the test software.

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make/model of the drives
by 4HDDclickofdeath / October 14, 2013 8:25 AM PDT

The model of my hard drives are:
1) maxtor 6l200m0 (the main hard drive with the OS)
2) st3250820as (for harddrives 2, 3, and 4)

I'm not sure if that's enough info but from what I saw in google, they are both SATA, I think...

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Here's where to go for the diagnostics
by wpgwpg / October 14, 2013 11:28 AM PDT
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I've had actual failures and intermittent power connections
by Steven Haninger / October 14, 2013 6:40 AM PDT

that resulted in what's called "the click of death". In all cases, when this occurred, Windows would seem to pause and the mouse pointer would cease to respond until the drive was once again available to Windows. In a couple of cases, it was no worse than a poor electrical connection. You didn't tell your drive type but I had it happen on older PATA drives with 4-pin Molex power plugs. The cure was to "re-form" the female connections in the plug. This means crimping the pin a bit so it grips the male end better. I used a pin pusher but a slight squeeze with needle nose pliers works too. It's an ugly fix. If you have SATA drives, you might just inspect all power connectors for damage. Those will be more difficult to deal with. Sometimes a connection that's too loose can be shimmed using a piece of paper. In any event, since you seem to have discovered the issue with your ears, you'll want to use that same tool to confirm a fix. This will mean disconnecting each drive (other than the boot drive) one at a time and running the PC long enough to rule that drive out. If you rule out the 3 non-OS drives, that means your boot drive is the culprit. Sorry but patience will be needed to do this.

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fish tank hose
by James Denison / October 15, 2013 12:27 AM PDT

vinyl fish tank hose. Stick one side in an ear, touch each drive when the clicking is going on. You will find the exact drive.

As a clue however, the clk sound is caused by "seeking" that fails to find what it is "seeking" so if you initiated some action that would cause a particular drive to be seeking, then likely that's the drive.

For instance you might have operating system on one drive, but all your mail folders on another, then you open your mail program and suddenly you hear clicking. It would be the drive it's "seeking" the folders on.

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Kee's said it...you can download and test each HDD with the
by VAPCMD / October 14, 2013 6:29 AM PDT

mfg's software.

But you want to do that while the drives are still working so running tests is not in your best interest.

Let us know how it works out.


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Just a thought. What if?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 14, 2013 4:20 AM PDT

That's 4 drives and in rare setups you could run short on power. Is the setup have about double the Watts required?

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by 4HDDclickofdeath / October 14, 2013 4:27 AM PDT

to be honest, I don't understand what you mean

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It's a system question.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 14, 2013 4:31 AM PDT
In reply to: hm

Some one installed 4 or more drives into some PC. They would have to know that the power was more than sufficient.

I added this because I have seen drives drop out due to power issues. We can also talk about the BAD setups were drives were stacked on top of each other which causes heat buildup.

Talk to the PC's maker?

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It's like working on your car.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 14, 2013 5:47 AM PDT
In reply to: thanks but no thanks

Some folk like doing that, but if you don't do your own work or know about your own PC then you may get upset trying to perform the basics.

Nothing wrong with that, but know your limits.

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You keep posting that you don't understand.
by wpgwpg / October 14, 2013 5:48 AM PDT
In reply to: thanks but no thanks

I'm not judging, I'm just taking your word. Since you say you don't understand what several knowledgeable people have told, you, it's apparent you need to get somebody who can understand these things. Obviously if you can't understand these things, you're not going to be able to fix your problem yourself. As Sargent Friday would say, that's just the facts. Grin

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by 4HDDclickofdeath / October 14, 2013 6:39 AM PDT

Not to prolong the problem, but what I was referring to was the poor choice of words :). You stated the facts, which I'm fine with. What I find unnecessary was, and I'm paraphrasing, you saying most basic folks are able to do it. Anyways it's off-topic and water under the bridge. I'm sure you had the best intentions, so let's end that despute here Happy

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Come on now
by itsdigger / October 14, 2013 5:59 AM PDT
In reply to: thanks but no thanks

to be fair, wpgwpg is giving you a sincere answer to the situation.You have 4 HDD's and one or more is giving you problems and you want someone in this forum to teach you how to diagnose the problem when the answers can be a lot of different things. You do need to get help from someone that has hands on experience as it's quite obvious that your'e not capable of going through the process of elimination by removing each HDD and testing one by one all of them nor are you capable of even checking the power requirements. Nobody's trying to give you a hard time. The stethoscope trick sounds enticing though...Digger

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the update on my situation

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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I think the clicking is fine for a drive with 5.4 years use.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 15, 2013 4:48 AM PDT

Triple the startup time is often traced to a drive with many reallocated sectors or just old. I see these in the refurb market for 30 bucks. I'd eject that drive.

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so is that a yes?

So to clarify, is that a yes? As in, yes I can assume that my Maxtor hard drive is the one doing the clicks since it has 5.4 years use and that drive alone didn't pass the Short Drive Self Test?

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