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Hard drive clicks very loud. Hard drive Clunks. Hard drive is very slow.

So your hearing a loud clunk like sound from your computer. If its only been making this sound for a short time,
!!!SHUT IT OFF!!! and find another computer to read this article from. What you may be experiencing is what I refer to as the clunk or click of death for your hard drive. Its trying to tell you that its not going to live much longer and its time to be replaced. If your lucky you've noticed it in time and shut your system off and will be able to copy the drive without data loss.

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   A hard drive is like a record player in a sense. The terms used for the main parts in the drive use the same names as a record player. The disks inside are called Platters, and the arm that reads and writes to the drive is called a stylus. The picture above in the header for my site shows what a hard drive looks like on the inside. The platters are normally aluminum with a very thin magnetic coating that data is written to. Some hard drives have glass platters with a similar coating on them. Some drives have a single platter and some have multiple platters in them. In the upper right corner in the picture you will see sort of a C shaped piece of metal covering one end of the stylus that's a very strong magnet. sometimes there's only one and some times there is one on the top and one on the bottom of that end of the stylus. At the pointed end of the stylus is where the heads are to read and write data to the platter/s. Unlike a record player the heads don't touch the platters. They ride on a very thin cushion of air away from the platters. If they do touch for some reason they will damage the drive.

Okay, now you know the basics of how a drive works, now what causes the loud click when the drive starts to fail. The loud click, clicking or clunking is from the stylus slamming back and forth across the platters. Its normally because it cant find sector 0. There are several reasons that can cause this.
Here are a few of the most common problems

1. The disk is damaged where sector 0 should be.

2. The stylus is touching the platter and no longer has that microscopic air gap.
(This is the one I seem to find the most of when I take apart dead drives.)

3. Circuit board failure. (The circuit board that controls the stylus inside the drive.)

I have taken many of these Clunk of death hard drives apart to see if I can find a reason for the problem and many have the stylus stuck in the inner part of the platter and its like the center of the drive is magnetized. So I emailed Western Digital support. Heres what I wrote and the answers they sent back to me when I asked about the clunk of death.

My Question:

I want to know what causes the clunk of death in a hard drive. I have opened up several after they get this and the stylus does not travel freely across the platter anymore and seems to be magnetized to the platter. Especially the center of the platter. When they are plugged into a system you can watch the stylus slam back and forth across the platter. What makes the drive do this? I cant seem to find an answer as to why they do this just that they have to be replaced. I would like to explain to people what happened to the drive and WHY it needs to be replaced. Thanks... Dale

Dear DALE,

Thank you for contacting Western Digital Customer Service and Support.

Barring physical damage on the drive, such as bent pints or broken connectors, the most common causes of drive failure are the following:

A. Head crash, where the read/write heads make physical contact with the drive's platters.

B. Motor failure, where the drive's platters will no longer spin.

C. Electronic failure, where the circuit board, resistors, capacitors, processors fail.

Physically dropping a drive can cause any or all of the above three scenarios. A "clicking" drive normally comes from failure types
A or C

   I wasn't completely satisfied with the answer I got so I asked again. Here is my question and the answer I received the second time.

My Question in response to the customer satisfaction email they sent from the first question:

I got an answer but it wasn't specific to the question. Let me clarify the question. I want to know why the stylus gets stuck to the platters in a hard drive that gets the clunk of death. Its like the platters are magnetized at
sector 0 and when they build up enough power to break loose they have too much force and slam to the outside edge of the disk, returning back to sector 0. What causes that. Thanks... Dale


Thank you for your reply.

If the read/write head makes physical contact with the platters, that destroys both the platter and the read/write assembly. When that happens, the controller board can never establish a successful entry or "start" point to begin using the drive at power up. Another way to think of it is like a record player that lost its stylus.

   I could see that was as close as I was going to get to the question about seeming magnetized so I left it at that. So as far as I can tell, there is no way to repair a drive with the click or clunk of death. Just shut off the computer its in as soon as you hear it and make a duplicate of the drive so you don't lose your stuff. Data recovery from a dead hard drive can be very expensive.

If this helped give with the PayPal Make a Donation button.

Please leave a comment with your Donation. Thanks... Dale
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