Computer is making strange noises?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Jim L. writes:

" Although only two and a half years old, my hard drive is starting to make very strange noises, especially at startup, which sometimes dissipate after having run for a while, but not always.

I'm extremely concerned that if I don't transfer everything to a new hard drive soon that I will loose it all. I remember that you had recommended a program that would allow easy transfer of data from one hard drive to the other. Will this program transfer my OS (Windows 2000 & Office 2000) and personal data as well? My hard drive is portioned into C and D drives, with C used for my OS and miscellaneous software, and D for all of my personal files. "

My response:

There are a few things to note:

  1. Many users mistakenly refer to the "hard drive" as the entire computer; this is incorrect. The hard drive in your computer is the mechanism responsible for storing your files (I.E.: the "C drive"). Although it appears that you are correctly making this distinction, it is worth noting for others who are reading this post.
  2. The only moving parts in your computer responsible for making noise are: a) a fan, and b) the hard drive. There are 3 types of fans: a CPU fan, a power supply fan, and a case fan. Sometimes, a fan will seize and will produce strange hi and low vibrating noises until it starts to spin up properly. These noises are especially noticeable when you first turn on the computer; even so, any fan that is seized should be replaced immediately.
  3. Fixed "grinding" noises (I.E.: noises that always sound the same) at startup are common; it may simply be the hard drive collecting data from one area of the disk to another. You can easily tell if the hard drive is responsible for the 'grinding' noises if the hard drive LED (a red light usually located on the front of your computer) coincide with the noises. If the noises do not emanate when the light is off, then everything should be OK. However, if the noises sound more like grinding metal with high and low octaves, then you should be concerned. You can test your hard drive media by running a thorough test on the drive ("Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors" for Windows XP).

Having said that, if you are certain that your hard drive is about to die and are about to replace it, you can use a disk imaging program (such as Acronis TrueImage) to transfer your entire hard drive to a newer, larger drive (or an identical one). It will copy the operating system and all your files, and it is the ultimate backup solution. A review on TrueImage can be found here:

Disk Imaging Basics

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