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Hard Drive Clicking

by fvshaggy / October 22, 2006 4:44 AM PDT

Hello all,

I have a bit of a problem, my hard drive recently started clicking and I am not able to start up Windows Xp without completly disconnecting the drive. The drive is a Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 and I was wondering if the hard drive is fried? I have almost 120 Gigs of data on the drive and don't really want to format it, but I will if I need to. I don't want to spend alot of money getting it fixed either. I really just want to pull pictures off the drive.


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A common failure indicator.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 22, 2006 5:23 AM PDT
In reply to: Hard Drive Clicking

There is never a homebrew fix for clicking drives and it's only a financial decision where the files are worth the recover fees from or others.

Beware that advice of changing the circuit board of the drive. You may hamper the recover house's work and increase the fee.

Can I ask where the backup copy of the files you can't lose are?


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by fvshaggy / October 22, 2006 7:46 AM PDT

I never did back up my photos and various documents. I should have. Does that mean I have to format my drive? Its not the end of the world if I do, just wanting to know.

Thanks again

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by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 22, 2006 8:19 AM PDT
In reply to: Procrastination

Never format a drive that has files you want to recover. Replace the drive. I just picked up a new 300GB 7200RPM drive for 99 bucks so if you attempt to format a drive with files you want back you just revealed the files are worth less than this.

With the new drive installed we place the old drive in the packing from the new drive and wait till we decide if it's worth it.


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by katepm2 / July 23, 2010 9:15 PM PDT
In reply to: NEVER.

I have been reading the posts on clicking and no booting hard drives. Don't ask me where my back up files are, as I bought the thumb drive tow months ago to do it, but I couldn't figure out how! Techno-****.
So how do I determine what new hard drive to get? And what do I do?

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Don't feel bad.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 23, 2010 10:48 PM PDT
In reply to: Clicking...

It appears you are just starting off in trying to repair your own machine. There are plenty of web pages about

How do I replace my hard drive?

That you can find and read with google. Try that.

As to which hard drive, there are many choices today. For simple, replace with same size and interface. For those that want to try upgrading they do that.

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by kandu101 / October 29, 2006 8:11 AM PST

try tapping the hard drive on start up with a small hammer. if it starts up you may have enough time to backup your data good luck

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hard drive problem
by jlomon / October 25, 2007 11:27 AM PDT
In reply to: KEEP IT SIMPLE

My hard drive just started making a clicking noise the other day and will not boot up my computer. I get a message that says "alert system fan not detected"
press F1 to retry or F2 for setup.

Does this mean that my hard drive is fried? What are my options at this time?

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I agree.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 26, 2007 12:17 AM PDT
In reply to: hard drive problem

Now it's just a decision to install a new drive and reload from your restore CDs and backup.


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Been there
by billcanada / October 22, 2006 6:23 AM PDT
In reply to: Hard Drive Clicking

I just had a Maxtor harddrive make that same sound. I downloaded PowerMax diagnostic software from Maxtor and it reported that it was failing.
It sounds like it is cooked to me but try Powermax and you'll get know for sure.


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Drive still clicks
by fvshaggy / October 23, 2006 12:56 AM PDT
In reply to: Been there

I tried adding the cables to the back of the drive when I get into windows and it shows that nothing is on the drive just from the properties button but I downloaded a free trail recovery program that shows that 120 gigs of data are still on the drive, but when it tries to access the information it just keeps clicking? Any ideas? If I could just get into the drive one more time then I could back up all the information that I wanted. Thanks for all the help so far.

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Still hope...
by Screwdriver Monkey / October 26, 2006 8:37 PM PDT
In reply to: Drive still clicks

Just a thought.

I have the same drive (120GB Maxtor DM9) with a similar symptom, turns out my PSU was overloaded and wasn't allowing the drive to draw the required current to perform seek / write ops reliably. I upgraded my PSU and so far so good. You could try disconnecting some devices and see if the problem improves. When trying to recover data (and getting desperate) I have tried the following:
Cooling the drive (in the freezer) then keeping it cool while transferring data (use a desk fan)
Standing the drive on its edge/end (changes the load on the spindle bearings, can help with weak head armatures)
Tapping the side of the drive when it clicks (helps a sticking head armature)

If none of this works then the chances are the drive is stuffed.

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by the04dude / September 9, 2011 3:05 AM PDT
In reply to: Been there

OMG I can't believe this actually worked! I tapped the drive with the back of my screwdriver saying "bad drive!". Next attempt to boot it gave one click and then booted properly! ***!

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DON'T PANIC....!!!!
by skycatcher / October 26, 2006 8:38 PM PDT
In reply to: Hard Drive Clicking

There is a 90% chance that you can get everything back with Spinrite 6. The 'clicking' is a normal operation of a HDD to try and locate a sector that is not working well. Spinrite 6 is a kind of non-destructive low-level formatter and many data recovery companies use it but charge you LOTS more for the job.

Why hasn't everybody got this program - OK so it costs $89.00 (US) but it can be shared between you and several friends and it works wonders in Data Recovery and Drive Recovery and Failure Prevention. And when I say 'Drive' recovery I mean All drives Floppy, Hard, ATA, SATA, SCSI, ZIP, JAZ, - Windows, Unix and more.

If your PC won't boot from the drive, set you BIOS to boot from floppy (or USB if you haven't got a floppy) and fire up Spinrite from there. It's tiny and fits onto a floppy easily (pure machine code). On a HDD that size it will take hours to run so fire it up and leave it to do it's job overnight - it's often worth doing it twice if you've got time.

Go to for Spinrite and whole load of Free stuff as well. The videos are also well worth watching so that you understand what Spinrite is doing.

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Clicking Hard Drive
by grandpajim / October 26, 2006 11:54 PM PDT
In reply to: Hard Drive Clicking

The drive may or may not be failing. If this is a new sound it probably will fail. As someone else suggested, since the price of hard drives have come way down, buy another drive and keep your old one. Put it in a good external case and use it strictly for data. If it has already failed, there are a number of good data recovery programs to be had (and some were mentioned) that may enable you to recover your data. If you are primarily concerned with only photos, many programs exist to recover them - even those that have been ''deleted''.

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Clicking drive is a warning.
by fuelmagic / October 27, 2006 2:50 AM PDT
In reply to: Clicking Hard Drive

A clicking drive is a sign of death, or near death.

I don't recommend using the old drive for anything further, especially for backing up data, because it isn't trustworthy. Even if you did get the old drive up and running again using one of the techniques described here, it wouldn't be prudent to trust it. Take your valuables off of it and recycle the scrap metal.

My advice is to purchase a fresh new hard drive to power up your computer and connect the second one, (at least temporarily), as a secondary slave drive.
If the old drive still spins you can then retrieve all of your photos and personal stuff off of it.

As a matter of course I always add a secondary drive to all of my computers to keep my created and saved files separate from the operating drive. It seems that the "C" drive is always the one that fails. Keep your precious creations separate whenever possible.

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hard drive clicking
by publicmischief / April 15, 2008 1:50 AM PDT

I've had this problem many times and luckily stumbled across what was causing my hard drives to keep failing...and you won't believe this.
I use externels alot and the power connectors that go to your drive widen from frequent removal and so forth causing a small short that will eventually fry your drive board after so many clicks.
This click is caused by what I believe to be a short in the power pins to the drive and a simple cure is to tighten the pins and your good to go.
I did this and have not heard 1 click since I fixed the power connectors.. Hope this saves every 1 alot of money cause it has me!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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by Noizxland / June 1, 2008 2:02 PM PDT
In reply to: hard drive clicking

thanks for your post

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hard drive clicking
by groeschel / August 16, 2008 11:21 AM PDT
In reply to: hard drive clicking

I read with interest your posting about the power pins to the drive. Can you explain to me exactly what I need to check and possibly fix?

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hard drive clicking
by publicmischief / August 27, 2008 10:41 AM PDT
In reply to: hard drive clicking

when you connect the power to your drive, inside the end of the power cord that attaches off your power supply, there are female pins and males on the drive itself. Take a needle or something small enough and make the female pins a little smaller so the males have a snug fit.. This will stop the drive from shorting out and frying the board on the drive... I have not lost another drive or heard another click since I figured this out.. But I check the pins regularly now to make sure they are tight at all times. Hope this helps you out....

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Open the tower and listen to see if that clicking is coming
by Dango517 / August 27, 2008 11:05 AM PDT
In reply to: hard drive clicking

from the rear of the drive. If not, replace it. Better back up everything you have on it, ASAP. Sound coming from a hard drive is always bad news. Arching does not make a clicking sound it's more of a crackling sound, like bacon frying. Your arm might be dragging on the platter or the bearing maybe going out.

Are you having erratic problems with software while using it? Things not starting and stopping smoothly? At times programs slowing down then returning to normal speed? Minor hesitations with no consistent pattern. A very hot hard drive. These are all signs of a hard drive that will soon be scrape.

Try a "check disk" and do a "defragmentation". Sometimes, a very poorly maintained drive can be the problem but doubtful.

Fortunately you might be able to "scrub" this drive to insure your privacy before it completely fails. A sledge hammer will always do in a pinch, however. Happy

Temperature monitoring software:

The first ones listed on each page.

This thread untracked.

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You are right, I did not believe it
by rubmop / August 27, 2008 6:04 AM PDT
In reply to: hard drive clicking

But I was having the same problem, tried the drive on several computers, downloaded new drivers and was getting ready to shell out the recovery fee when I saw your post. I moved the power tines closer in and Voila!!. I am buying a new drive anyway...too much of a scare.
And yeah yeah backup backup I know the drill.

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hdd failures
by publicmischief / August 27, 2008 10:20 AM PDT

Glad I could help you out. After many drives and about 4 years of replacing drives I Stumbled across this trying to fix 1. Found the Power connectors loose on my ide to usb drive, tightened them up and never had a problem again. This can also happen to the pins on the drive too. You can spread them apart for even tighter connections but be carful not to spread to much or the will get caught and bend leaving your drive useless....ENJOY

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Thanks Publicmischief
by kirkfu / May 5, 2009 1:24 AM PDT
In reply to: hard drive clicking

I have a WD external HD that started clicking as well. I couldn't access the data and figured I would have to send it to a data recovery service. After reading Publicmischief's post, I switched power units and it fired right up. Problem solved. I have since removed all the data to DVD and another HD.


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Clicking Hard Drive
by thepelhams / June 23, 2009 3:53 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks Publicmischief


I just wanted to say THANKS for your post on changing the psu on the external hard drive. My external hard drive that I use to backup my computer started clicking and I was freaking out because all my wife's pictures and 90 gigs of itunes music were also stored on it. I called all these data recovery places and the cheapest was $900.00! I was going to send off the drive and thought I would just google clicking hard drives to see if there might be something I could do on my own. This led me to this forum and your post. I had another external hard drive with the same psu and tried it on the clicking one. IT STARTED RIGHT UP and has been working ever since! UNBELIEVABLE! Needless to say, I am backing all the data up right now and thanks to you, I saved a ton of money!!!! THANKS!

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hard drive clicking
by merzach / March 13, 2010 6:20 AM PST
In reply to: hard drive clicking

I just discovered that I had this problem about two hours ago on a drive in an (older)external enclosure, I transferred the drive to a (newer)spare external enclosure, and was able to bring it back online, suffice to say that I am now transferring my data off that (old)drive to a new drive, and will recycle the (old)drive.

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You can try freezing the drive
by Owyn / October 27, 2006 3:55 AM PDT
In reply to: Hard Drive Clicking

"You can try the ?freezer trick? if the drive is acting flaky and/or not much else has really been helpful in getting data off the drive. First, let the drive reach about room temperature before proceeding. A sudden change in temperature is not all that healthy for a drive. Afterward, put the drive in a freezer bag (a Ziploc bag will do if there aren?t any freezer bags handy) and squeeze out all the air (leave a little space at the opening of the bag for the air to escape). This is so you avoid condensation while the drive is put into the freezer. Leave it in there for an hour or so. Finally, take it out and slave it to another machine and try to copy over any data you want. This process may need to be repeated a few times in order to copy over everything you need.

What the freezer trick does is cool down all the components of the hard drive. It will cool down the overheating chips on the hard drive?s circuit board (which is a known problem with some models of Maxtor Quantum drives), and as well as allow the platters contract a bit, making it easier for the heads to read the data, thus decreasing read errors. All this ?trick? does is buy some time in order to recover your data. In other words, the drive will need to be replaced. If it is still under warranty, RMA it back to the manufacturer."

I have also had a bit of success in cooling the drive with compressed air before and during boot.

Both of these fixes are temporary. You still need to get the drive out of service ASAP.

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Changing Temperature may help
by sea4th / October 27, 2006 10:08 AM PDT

There are many reasons for drives to start failing and lowering the temperature may help overheating parts.

My experience with recovering data from a clicking hard drive used the opposite approach, that is I let the hard drive warm up. This system was not used much and with the cooler weather the system was taking a long time to startup or failing to start. So leave the system on for 20 minutes and then restart allowed the recovery or transfer of much of the data to another drive. In this case I had moved the clicking drive to a new system as the slave or secondary drive and waited for the drive to warm up.

There are physical reasons why warm drives work better than cold ones. The spacing between the head and disk decrease with increasing temperature which helps improve the SNR being the main reason in this failure. I would not recommend placing the drive in an oven to warm it up but finding a warm place or leaving the drive on or gently wrapping the drive with a clean cloth (hand towel). An operating drive will consume around 10 to 20 watts and thermally insulating the drive and waiting will increase the temperature.

Of course good luck always helps for your data recovery!

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Changing Temperature Worked
by bdocko / December 5, 2009 6:43 AM PST

Thanks sea4th, your solution worked for me.

I had the same issue described in this thread (a wd 320gb drive stop working .. upon startup, drive started spinning ... then click click click .. then shut down .. repeat many times, then screen stating boot drive could not found, press F1 or F2). I replaced the drive, and then tried to recover data from the crashed drive.

I tried many things listed in this thread, including (*) trying two different external enclosures to see if the power supply was a problem, (*) tightening/squeezing the power connectors to make sure a solid power connection, (*) tapping the drive with a small hammer lightly while starting up to see if it would un-jam something, (*) twisting and moving the drive around while starting up, and starting it up at different angles, again to see if it would un-jam something. None of this worked. Same click-click-stop.

I was about to put it in the freezer for a while (which worked years ago for me on another problem drive), but decided to warm it as my next test. I put it in a toaster oven at low temperature (160 degrees) for 30 minutes .. assuming this would be low enough to not damage anything, and warm enough to expand metal to mimic a longer-running hard drive; selected 30 minutes to allow all parts to heat up. I connected the drive, and it worked ... suprised, but there it was .. external drive was recognized. I quickly copied important files, then copied the entire drive, and then shut the problem drive down and will use it as a door stop.

Again, thanks sea4th for the heating suggestion.

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Heat It Up!!!
by dataquest2 / July 31, 2011 7:37 AM PDT

Thanks to ea4th and confirmation by bdocko -

My WD 2500 drive defied spinrite and another windows data recover tool mentioned here. No matter what I tried, it just refused to boot and would sit there clicking. Ten minutes in a toaster oven at 150 deg made it bootable again!!!


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Heat did the trick!!
by smfinn / March 6, 2012 10:36 PM PST

I too ran into a dead end with a clicking DELL laptop HD. Spinrite and HDD Regenerator both failed to even see the clicking drive. I stuck the drive in the toaster oven for about 5 mins at it's lowest temp setting figuring I would try small increments of time and temp to lower the risk of adding any physical damage to the HD...but voila! It worked first shot out of the oven! Great tip!! I was able to recover 100's of digital camera images that had not been backed up yet at the time the clicking began.

Thanks sea4th for the suggestion and bdocko & dataquest2 for the supporting data points that prompted me to try this unorthodox method.

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