Heavy clicking= hard drive dying? Not this time

Discussion in 'hardware' started by cortez, Feb 12, 2011.

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  1. cortez

    cortez Registered Member

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    I turned my computer on and there was a heavy clicking sound that mimicked a dying hard drive. I opened the box and noticed that one of my added fans was heavy with dust (the "push" fan mounted close to the air intake grate). After cleaning it all the clicking has stopped (more than a week now).

    I used to clean the inside of the box every six months but this Fall we painted an adjacent room which must have released a lot of dust, moving and cleaning stuff getting ready to paint.

    So heads up-- and extra cleaning may be in order when painting, spring cleaning ect.
     
  2. Creer

    Creer Registered Member

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    To be sure it's not HDD issue I suggest you to look on SMART analyze of your hard drive if there will any relocated sectors/errors.
     
  3. Sherlock_Holmes

    Sherlock_Holmes Registered Member

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    which software u recommend to check smart ?
     
  4. Boyfriend

    Boyfriend Registered Member

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  5. Creer

    Creer Registered Member

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    I.e. You can install freeware HD Tune (v2.55) to check SMART of your HDD (Health Tab).
     
  6. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

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    Smart is a sort of a smart guess.
    Make sure your data is backed up.
    That's the only thing that matters.
    Mrk
     
  7. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    I normally recommend inspecting the interior monthly, then cleaning as necessary. Dust should not be allowed to build up enough to impact air flow or disrupt heat sink radiation. 6 months is a long time, even if the machine is only running a couple hours per day. And note that cigarette smoke and pets make it worse - especially cats as their hair and dander are so oily, it sticks to everything then grabs on to dust. Regular foot traffic and little kids running about keep dust airborne, ready to get sucked in too.

    Note a case with removable, washable air filters will cut interior case cleaning drastically. I will never have a case that does not have filters again.

    I don't why the discussion turned to SMART and drive maintenance. It seems clear this was a dust problem. Still the advice to back up your data was sound.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011
  8. cortez

    cortez Registered Member

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    When checking for noise inside the box I use a modified mechanics stethoscope (instead of a metal needle I replaced it with a plastic one). This is my first response then I did proceeded to use Western Digital's "Data Lifeguard" diagnostic software which showed no problems.

    I was 99% sure it was the fan because the stethoscope revealed no noise from the hard drive but did show noise from the fan casing. The fan was unevenly dusted up with one blade really overloaded. This I believe caused the fan to run out of round causing the bearings to make the offending noise.

    I will open up the case more often as suggested as dust can cause heat which is a machine killer. Regular inspections make good sense especially since it takes only 15 seconds to remove the cover. :thumb:
     
  9. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    It is simple to verify if a fan is the cause. Briefly, lightly, and carefully touch the center hub of the fan. If it is the source of the noise, the "pitch" of the noise will change as the RPMs of the blades slow and speed up again.
     
  10. cortez

    cortez Registered Member

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    Good tip, faster than a stethoscope, especially when the fan is deeper inside the case. :thumb:
     
  11. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Yeah, and a lot of times, if a drive motor, you can plant your finger on the drive and feel the vibration. This is less reliable because vibrations can travel through the case. Pulling the drive out of the mounting bay and suspending it on a cardboard box with data and power cables can help with that too - though care in handling to avoid ESD or short circuit damage is critical.
     
  12. midway40

    midway40 Registered Member

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    Another no-no is having your computer in a kitchen. Grease particles are sucked into the computer sticking on all parts thus making everything in it attract more dust. Someone bought me a Dell that they kept on a table in their kitchen and the inside was a mess. I cleaned it up the best I could but it was the first time I ever I had to scrub my hands after working on a computer!
     
  13. axial

    axial Registered Member

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    How to recognize a failing hard drive sound
     
  14. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Well, I personally think cats are worse, but then cat dander makes me sneeze too!

    But I agree, kitchen grease is bad. I recommend a touch screen with the computer inside a closed cabinet with filtered ventilation.
     
  15. midway40

    midway40 Registered Member

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    Bill, at least I don't have to worry about cat hair and dander. I have a cockatiel in the house so that means no cats allowed :D

    The picture below illustrates the importance of keeping your computer's inside clean. This was a Dell 4600 that has the shroud that goes over the processor that pulls the air from the heatsink. The guy bought it to me for malware cleaning but it is a wonder his processor hadn't fried.

    The last sentence in your sig best sums all of this up.
     

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  16. acuariano

    acuariano Registered Member

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    now the question is:
    how do you properly clean inside pc....what do you use beside air cans.
     
  17. cortez

    cortez Registered Member

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    There is more than one way to skin a cat but in my case I usually use air in conjunction with a shop vacuum to suck up the dust and dust bunnies.

    Just make sure you have grounded yourself properly and carefully start to blow where needed most and have the shop vac near enough to capture the ejecta.

    There are post market electronic vacuum adapter kits that offer many different size reducers and smaller hose lengths, specialty vac nozzles ect. made for these type of cleaning tasks. With these special nozzles (some even with fine bristles) one can get into any area of a computer innards for thorough cleaning.

    In the picture above a vac will do the job on that power supply without pushing in the dust deeper into the windings.
     
  18. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    I use an air compressor outside. Just make sure you toggle down the PSI to 90 or less, keep condensation drained, and ALWAYS use an in-line moisture and particulate filter.

    http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z181/Digerati_Bill/045564616755md-1.jpg

    If raining I use a vacuum. But extra care needs to be taken with a vacuum because air and dust zipping past the plastic nozzle can create very large static charges. And since you get in close with a vacuum, a discharge (ESD)may occur. So when using a vacuum, I always wrap my hand around the nozzle and extend a finger out front to plant on bare metal to keep static buildup from occurring.

    And with any forced air method, blasting the fans can make them spin faster than designed and ruin the bearings. I use wooded popcicle sticks to hold them still.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011
  19. midway40

    midway40 Registered Member

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    Like Bill, I use an air compressor and use short bursts to blow out the heatsink, power supply, etc. However, for laptops I use canned air.
     
  20. Cutting_Edgetech

    Cutting_Edgetech Registered Member

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    I build all my own PC's, and i make sure to only use cases that have removable air filters. I clean the filters about once every 2 months, and after 3 years of use I have no visible dust or dust bunnies anywhere inside the case. Not even around the CPU fan. If you build your own then get a case with removable air filters. It's the only was to go. ;)
     
  21. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Oh? Why? I use the compressor on notebooks all the time. I may not hold the nozzle up as close, but that's just to avoid damaging fans.
     
  22. tgell

    tgell Registered Member

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    I would like to add that when you use canned or compressed air make sure you prevent the CPU fan from turning. As Bill Bright said, spinning the fan at high speed can damage bearings but it also causes a current to travel back into the motherboard.
     
  23. midway40

    midway40 Registered Member

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    It is just a preference. Whether or not it is true, I feel that laptops are more delicate and I treat them accordingly. I haven't had a bad experience to base it on so it is just more for my peace of mind.
     
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