Hard Drive Grinding Noises and Data Recovery

If your desktop PC or laptop is making a worrying grinding noise, it might not necessarily be anything to worry about. While it could potentially be a hard drive problem – which could require data recovery if ignored – it is more likely to be an issue with the fan or disk drive.

Computers have two kinds of moving parts – the cooling fans, and the drives. Obviously, if it’s a fan issue, there will be no data recovery involved; fans can be easily replaced and can’t cause damage to the hard disk drive. Many machines will run all the fans at full speed for a few seconds on booting up, to test they’re working and dislodge any pieces of dirt or dust. If you can hear a grinding noise, it’s possible there’s something stuck in the fan that’s obstructing the blades. This noise can easily be mistaken for physical hard drive failure, when in reality, it’s a fairly superficial problem. However, if it’s a hard drive issue, you need to act fast to avoid expensive data recovery.

If you’ve ruled out a problem with the fan, the source of the grinding noise is likely to be one of the drives. If you suspect a physical fault with your hard drive – power down your machine immediately. Data recovery from physical damage is incredibly costly and time consuming, and the success rate is lower than data recovery from a logical failure. A grinding or clicking noise can be indicative of a head crash, probably the most common physical problem we see in our data recovery lab. A head crash is caused when the read-write head comes into contact with the magnetic platter, destroying the coating. Small particles of the eroded magnetic coating can then cause the other heads in a multi-platter drive to crash. It’s also possible there is something loose in the hard drive. Again, you should power down your hard drive immediately, as the longer there’s something flying around loose inside, the harder data recovery will be.

Preventing physical hard drive faults and avoiding potentially costly data recovery is easy to avoid if you take care of your devices. Head crashes in laptops are more common because they’re portable, and more prone to being bumped, knocked or dropped. Hard drives do fail after time, which can lead to physical faults like head crashes in desktop machines. Because physical data recovery can be hit and miss, make sure you regularly perform backups of your crucial files. Our data recovery engineers have the tools and expertise to recover data from physically damaged hard drives.

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