Click…click…click…the sound of a clicking hard drive is something a computer user hopes to never hear. If you hear the infamous “click of death” coming from your drive, you are essentially hearing the read/write head as it fails to track the disk surface correctly, returning to its home position and trying track the surface again. This common-yet-serious problem can be repaired by replacing the Head Disk Assembly with a working one.
However, it is important to note that a clicking hard drive is not always the result of a failed read/write head—it can also be caused by a failed PCB (Printed Circuit Board), or on occasion, bad sectors. In other words, the read/write head causes the clicking noise in all “click of death” situations, but it is not always the source of the problem itself. If left untreated, a clicking hard drive may permanently destroy your data as the read/write head eventually comes in direct physical contact with the platters, thus physically destroying your data. This is also known as a Head Crash.
Listen to Your Hard Drive
It is important to continuously monitor your hard drives to make sure you notice any unusual sound, as typically the sooner you identify a drive problem, the lower your chance of jeopardizing your data. This is especially true when handling data servers, RAID and Drobo systems, as they are often placed in a server room, where those unusual clicking sound may go unnoticed. Because these sophisticated units are designed to continue to work even with a failed drive (or drives), you may not be aware of the hard drive failure when it first occurs. It is then only a matter of time until the next drive fails and puts your data at risk.
Leave a Clicking Hard Drive to the Professionals
If the clicking sound originates in the read/write heads, the drive must only be opened and worked on within a class 100 clean room environment, by a highly trained data recovery specialist. NEVER open the drive yourself, even just to take a peek or curiously check out where the sounds are coming from. Doing so will likely cause irreversible damage to the sensitive components within the drive (i.e. platter dust contamination, platter misalignment, etc.). It is a shame to potentially lose precious data that could be fully recovered if handled by specialists. Leaving the work to the professionals will result in the highest chance of a successful recovery.