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Harddrive won't boot, makes clicking noise

Posted on 2006-07-09
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Last Modified: 2012-08-13
My old 40GB harddrive recently started making strange noises, and won't boot up anymore.  I'm positive this is a physical problem with the harddrive.  When I power on my computer, it makes a continous "click click click" noise, similar to the single "click" it makes when it first powers on but the noise keeps going like it's trying to do something but failing.  My bios does not detect the drive anymore ... and when I unplug everything but the power cable going into the drive I still hear the "click click click" sound, which doesn't stop.  I'm afraid the harddrive is pretty much toast, which is fine but I'd like to access a few files on there that didn't make the last backup :-(

I'm not too worried about wrecking the drive, what I'd like to do is get it in a state where I can simply access the files even just for 30 minutes and then I can toss it in the trash.  Does this sound feasible, and if so does anyone have suggestions based on the symptoms I'm describribing?  Maybe I can just crack it open and do something quick and dirty as a bandage solution?  Failing that... does anyone have any experience with inexpensive hardrive repairs, when the problem is physical?  I don't need data recovery, I'm hoping the actual harddrive can be made to work however briefly.  I doubt a place like Future Shop or your local computer store deals with this type of problem.

Thanks in advance...
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Question by:nexisvi
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jamietoner earned 150 total points
ID: 17070513
sounds like you have the click of death, you can try to install it in another machine as an additional drive and try a software like getdataback but i personally havent had any luck with the types of utilities when it had failed enough not to be recogniozed by the bios anymore. Other thin g you may want to try is to put the drive in in the freezer for awhile then try to access it, it sounds crazy but i have seen it work,i have done it on drives with more of an eletrical fault and not a crashed head which is the most common cause of the click of death, i have yet to try on a clicking drive.
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by:Alan Henderson
Alan Henderson earned 50 total points
ID: 17070532
Jamie's spot on.
Have a look here:
http://www.pcworld.com/howto/article/0,aid,105869,pg,3,00.asp
If you have any important stuff on it which isn't backed up  - don't use it until you must for recovery.
If it's really vital stuff you need forensic help. Expensive.
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by:Darwinian999
Darwinian999 earned 25 total points
ID: 17070546
Put the drive in an anti-static bag and put it in your freezer for 30 minutes. Take it out of the freezer, connect it to the PC and see if it will boot. Sounds odd, but cooling the drive works sometimes.

If you're not in an industrial clean-room and you open the drive, you've got little to no chance of getting data back. The smallest bit of dust, smoke particle or even a fingerprint is enough to cause a disk head to collide with a disk platter.

Your only other option besides using a professional data recovery company would be to buy the same type of drive (eg from ebay) and swap the electronics module between them. That won't help though if a head wire, head, or pre-amp module (inside the drive) is broken.

Always use anti-static precautions when handling a drive - you can't feel a static discharge until there's about 5,000 volts of it, but static damage to electronic components occurs long before then, at much lower voltages.
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by:_Mr_Limo
_Mr_Limo earned 25 total points
ID: 17070586
A clicking drive is done.  No software will help.  It's a PHYSICAL issue with the heads (they most likely have NOT touched the platters, but they ARE slapping the sides of the drive itself.  What's going on can be any number of things - the Partition table could be corrupt (not very likely) or one of the actual "heads" have come off of the actuator arm.  Swapping the "electronics module" or anything else is fruitless - you need a "head swap" from a professional data recovery firm (this is NOT something a local shop can do for you - and you definately should NOT try it yourself, if your data is important).  

Try http://www.drivesaver.com - they're the oldest & the best in the business... not the cheapest, but the best.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 17070797
good advice above .
If you want to try to replace the head assy, look here :
http://hddguru.com/content/en/articles/2006.02.17-Changing-headstack-Q-and-A/
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 17071177
The biggest chance you'll get is to follow the freezer advice above, or if you have an exact same drive model (needs to be the same revision number), you can try changing the drive's PCB with that of the good drive. If none of these work, you can't recover the data yourself and you'll have to send it to a data recovery agency, of which gillware gets the best critics, and it isn't even that expensive (of course the "expensive" depends on how important the data is for you)

http://www.gillware.com/
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Expert Comment

by:dooleydog
ID: 17073148
A long shot, but, you can try freezing it. I know it sounds crazy, but the cold can sometimes make it work for a short period of time. I would suggest making it the second HD and booting from another.

If that doesn't work, I think you are out of luck, unless you have lots of money...

Good Luck,

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by:Alan Henderson
ID: 17075830
Everything's been covered, and from your post it sounds as though the data on the drive aren't critical. If that's so, go ahead with the DIY advice given.
If that's not so, don't even think about powering it up. Go with Mr Limo or rindi and send it to the experts.
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Expert Comment

by:_Mr_Limo
ID: 17078118
gillware?  you have to be kidding...

http://www.Drivesavers.com beats 'em all...

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Author Comment

by:nexisvi
ID: 17079080
Thanks for all the suggestions!  I'm going to try tossing it in the freezer after putting it inside an anti-static bag and see how it goes.  The stuff that's on there which I haven't backed up isn't worth hundreds of dollars to me (sounds like I'm looking at spending at least that much for a professional to fix it for me?) so if this quick-fix works long enough so I can pull things off the disk that'd be amazing =)
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by:kaka1228
ID: 17087120
freeze it, then either add it as a secondary hdd on another machine or try using an external usb hdd casing and connect it to another machine to try to access it that way.   good luck !
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Author Comment

by:nexisvi
ID: 17102270
Well I tried placing the drive in the freezer for 30 min after placing it in an anti-static bag and then inside a zip-loc bag (to keep out the moisture), but unfortunately I'm still hearing the dreadful clicking =(  Too bad, I guess there's not much I can do but thanks everyone for the information and great suggestions.
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