Why is my Hard Drive making a Grinding Noise?

If there’s a grinding noise coming from your computer or laptop, it could be the sign of a dying hard drive – or it could be something less serious.

A grinding noise doesn’t necessarily mean that your computer’s hard disk drive is on its way out, but it is something you should look at as soon as possible. Computers and laptops that utilise mechanical hard disk drives as their primary storage drive have two main kinds of moving parts – the CPU fan and the hard drive itself. Older models may also have a disk drive for CDs and DVDs, and these can also emit grinding noises in certain circumstances. An issue with the CPU fan can be easily remedied, and your data in this instance won’t be at risk. Many computers will run their fans at full speed upon start-up, in order to clean away any accumulated dust. Similarly, if your computer is attempting a memory-heavy task, like running a 4K video file or game, it’s normal to hear the CPU fan spin faster than normal to compensate for any increases in heat. If there is anything trapped in between the blades of the fan, it could cause a grinding noise, particularly if the object is large. This noise could very easily be mistaken as coming from the hard drive.

If you’ve ruled out the CPU fan as the source of the grinding noise, as well as a disk drive, it is likely that the hard disk drive is at fault, and in this instance, you should power your drive down immediately. If your hard drive grinding noise has been present for some time without any issue, you could attempt to make a back-up if you haven’t done so already. But this depends on how precious the data on the hard drive is. Data recovery from a physically damaged hard drive can be expensive and time-consuming, and if the damage sustained is severe, it might be impossible. A grinding noise coming from a hard drive could be indicative of a severe head crash, where the hard drive’s read/write heads are scraping the magnetic surface of the platters away. Small particles of metal can then cause other components in the drive to fail – this is what the grinding noise might be. If your data is precious and you don’t have a back-up – power down your drive and take it to a professional data recovery specialist.

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