Clicking Hard Drive Explained

Jun 14, 2015

Clicking is a fairly common and extremely worrisome sound for your hard drive. For some computers it is the sound of fans, others it’s the optical drive, but usually, it is the hard disk drive. Computer users often wonder why their hard drives start clicking. People usually think that, as long as they don’t drop their computer or pour water on it, its hard drive won’t have any problems. This really isn’t the case. So, what is it that makes hard drives click?


There are three main reasons why a drive could begin clicking. The lease likely scenario is that a part of the printed circuit board has been inadvertently damaged. Damage can be cause by water, excess dust, heat and sharp pressure. There are multiple printed circuit boards in a computer. The main and most well-known, printed circuit board, also called the logic board or motherboard. However, there is an individual circuit board that communicates with the hard drive. If part of it gets damaged, there’s a chance your hard drive will click. Though the chances are close to one percent, it’s still good to be aware of that possibility.


The second scenario involves firmware errors. Sometimes firmware errors occur because the firmware data has been corrupted, while other firmware errors are due to outdated firmware that needs updating. Firmware is software that is programmed into a machine’s non-volatile memory so that it remains permanent. Firmware is like a digital skeleton that outlines the way that everything gets programed onto it. A machine’s firmware is almost never changed during its existence. Firmware damage can be caused by malware that corrupts, deletes, or encrypts your computer’s data. Firmware can also be damaged by users trying to modify some of the fundamental qualities of their computer. If they are unsuccessful for any reason, or the changes are incomplete they might “brick” the device. Bricking isn’t a term that is associated with desktop computers, but there can be a similar outcome for those who tamper with non-mobile firmware. Some of the outdated firmware or corrupted firmware can cause problems in your hard drive that leads to clicking. Although, firmware problems only account for about 14 percent of hard drive clicking issues, they do happen.

Internal Heads

The third clicking hard drive scenario involves the hard drives internal read/write heads. The read/write heads of a hard drive are a located at the end of the actuator arms. There are multiple heads in a hard drive, and all of them hover about the disk platters that rotate between 4,200 rpm to 15,000 rpm. If one of the heads comes into contact with a platter that is going that fast, it will scratch the head severely and cause it to physically damage the data. A head failure can happen for a few reasons. Sometimes the read/write head parts are not assembled correctly. These factory defects cause the hard drives to fail almost immediately. Other head crashes are caused by components overheating from use and dust accumulation in the drive. No matter what causes the head failure, when it fails there will be quite a few harmful noises that accompany the loss of your data. Internal head failure is by far the most common hard drive problem, and accounts for about 85 percent of hard drive crashes. So, if your hard drive is clicking, it’s probably one of those three reasons.