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First post, by retro games 100

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My HDD is a Western Digital Caviar WD5000AACS model. It's only a couple of years old. I've got Windows XP on it. When I first set it up, it was very quiet. Now, it makes repetitive grinding noises. I wonder what could be causing this? I've attached a screenshot of Task Manager, and I've sorted its columns by "I/O Read Bytes". Are there any processes there that look odd? Thanks a lot for any comments.

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Reply 1 of 21, by Mau1wurf1977

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A harddrive making weird noises is never a good thing 😉

Time to make a backup

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Reply 2 of 21, by Gemini000

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Mau1wurf1977 wrote:

A harddrive making weird noises is never a good thing ;-)

Time to make a backup

Seconded. ;)

Generally speaking, the louder your hard drive gets, the closer it is to death. I'm not 100% certain why hard drives get louder in this way. Some hard drives last seemingly forever, some last only a matter of months. Brand doesn't seem to be too big a factor, though Western Digital is my brand of choice since they've been doing hard drives for a LONG time now. (Even the 20 MB HD we had in out ancient Tandy 1000 SX system was a Western Digital drive!)

Shortest I've had a drive last on me: 9 Months (Quantum Fireball HD, died from a visible IC meltdown)

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Reply 3 of 21, by SKARDAVNELNATE

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As I understand it one possibility is that heating and cooling causes the drum to wear down and it ceases to spin properly.
Another problem can be with the arm. If the sweeps lack precision it clacks as it hits the edge of its housing and the force could knock the magnets loose.

Reply 4 of 21, by Davros

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you could try disableing last access filestamp

FSUTIL behavior set disablelastaccess 1

and indexing service
set a fixed swapfile size
disable the superfetch (vista)
use readyboost (vista)
defrag

ps: what o/s ?

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Reply 5 of 21, by retro games 100

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SKARDAVNELNATE wrote:

As I understand it one possibility is that heating and cooling causes the drum to wear down and it ceases to spin properly.
Another problem can be with the arm. If the sweeps lack precision it clacks as it hits the edge of its housing and the force could knock the magnets loose.

Heating and cooling - very interesting, because as it happens I've got the HDD inside one of these things -

http://www.xsreviews.co.uk/reviews/misc-coole … rt-drive-2002c/ (Webpage shows a HDD cooling enclosure)

Perhaps it's doing the HDD more harm than good?

davros wrote:
you could try disableing last access filestamp […]
Show full quote

you could try disableing last access filestamp

FSUTIL behavior set disablelastaccess 1

and indexing service
set a fixed swapfile size
disable the superfetch (vista)
use readyboost (vista)
defrag

ps: what o/s ?

I am prepared to try all of your suggestions Davros. But first, I'll remind you about the OS I'm using - it's Windows XP SP3. Thanks.

Reply 6 of 21, by Tetrium

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If you're worried about spyware, I can suggest you run HijackThis and paste the log file online here:
http://www.hijackthis.de/

It's not foolproof but it's a good way to start 😉

I'll second that brand doesn't mean anything, got a Kolak running 15 years and it works sooo great man, unbelievable great drive!!!11

Lol, on a more serious note, there are subtle differences between manufacturers. My favorite brand for now is Samsung as their drives are silent and fast. Also it's very easy to tell by the part number how many platters a certain drive has, unlike WD.

I don't like Maxtors, those are hot and very loud (except for 1 older drive I found).

I could go on about what drives are good and what are bad. I also like the IBM deathstars because those are very silent, until they break 😜

Reply 7 of 21, by retro games 100

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Davros wrote:
you could try disableing last access filestamp […]
Show full quote

you could try disableing last access filestamp

FSUTIL behavior set disablelastaccess 1

and indexing service
set a fixed swapfile size
defrag

OK, I've done the FSUTIL command. The indexing service was disabled a long time ago. I've set the virtual memory to 3070MB. That's what it recommended. Previously, virtual memory was set to 2000-and-something MB. I've set both the min and max size to 3070. I'm not sure if this is the right thing to do. I'll just see how it goes. Also, I'm currently doing a defrag...

Thanks a lot for the advice. I'll let you know if these changes have made an affect. Also, my mobo's BIOS is quite old. I might flash it later, after the defrag has been completed. It's an Asus mobo. I keep forgetting its model name. I remember it was called the "Black Pearl edition". It's called something like "P5K wi-fi deluxe". During the BIOS POST start up events, there's an option displayed that says Press this key for "Easy Flash" (or EZ-flash). I might try that..

Reply 8 of 21, by retro games 100

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Re: defrag. I ran it twice. Every time I run defrag, it always says that there are some files on the C volume that can't be defraged. Edit: However, the defrag does appear to do some good, as the defrag utility's graphical illustration of the HDD shows the blue bars closer together, and the "evil" red bars disappear.

Re: HijackThis. Thanks a lot for the link. I ran it, and it found a couple of items, one of which was labelled Spyware. I fixed both of these problems.

Re: flashing mobo's BIOS. I ran EZ-Flash, and it was rubbish. It thought my C drive was a CD-ROM drive, and it couldn't open up the C:\ directories to find the DL'd .ROM BIOS file. So I haven't flashed the mobo's BIOS yet. Perhaps I'll try a Windows based BIOS flash utility from Asus..

For now, I'll see how I get on with the changes I have made so far. Thanks for all the replies people.

Reply 9 of 21, by bushwack

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My WD 500gb drive died (AAKS IIRC) and WD took forever to replace. But they did send me a better 640gb in it place. I've only had one other WD drive and it died too, it was a 2.5gb, it lasted about 30 days after it's warranty then died.

I've had better luck out of IBM drives.

Reply 10 of 21, by SKARDAVNELNATE

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retro games 100 wrote:

Perhaps it's doing the HDD more harm than good?

I would look at the temperature range that the drive goes through which effects how much expansion or contraction there will be. Also how quickly it happens. Rapid e/c would have a greater impact on performance. The goal should be to keep the temperature stable.

Reply 11 of 21, by swaaye

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My take is, if it's under warranty, do WD's advance replace without a second thought.

Hey you might even get an upgrade. I had a 640 replaced with a 750 recently. A year ago or so I had a Raptor 150 get replaced with the newer Velociraptor. That was particularly nice because the VR is much quieter and also faster.

Reply 12 of 21, by Davros

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i remember people on the asus forums saying dont use the windows flash version (although that was a long time ago)
i used the flash from bios option with the new bios being on a usb stick

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Reply 13 of 21, by retro games 100

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Thanks again people. BTW, I may have used the wrong word in my O.P. When I say "grinding", perhaps I mean "rumbling". This rumbling noise often sounds kind of rhythmic. It will go -

rumble-rumble, rumble-rumble, rumble-rumble, rumble-rumble, rumble-rumble. Then stop. Then it will start again, say 5 seconds later, but this time it will last a bit longer. Then stop again. Then start again, until it goes in to a long 30 second rumble, followed by a soft faint but distinctive Click! Then it will be quiet again, for up to an hour. Then this noise pattern will repeat itself, all throughout the day.

Reply 14 of 21, by Snover

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I am a bit surprised by the suggestions given here since nobody has said anything about actually diagnosing the disk itself. Furthermore, attempting to defragment a disk when the physical health of the disk is unknown is an extremely dangerous thing to do, since it may accelerate the failure of the disk as well as write recoverable data to sectors that are damaged, thus rendering the data unreadable when you try to access it in the future.

Step one is to run Data Lifeguard Diagnostic and perform a full test. If test and S.M.A.R.T. status is PASS, you should still check detailed S.M.A.R.T. information, since disks with failure characteristics may still be given a PASS. Raw data should be zero for reallocated sectors, reallocation events, current pending sectors, and uncorrectable sector count. If any of these values are non-zero, or especially higher than about 5, you should copy all data off the disk immediately and request an RMA.

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Reply 15 of 21, by Mau1wurf1977

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Good practice there Snover!

The "Ultimate Boot CD" also has a ton of HDD diagnostic tools. It's a free ISO you can download and burn.

http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/

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Reply 16 of 21, by swaaye

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Well first thing to do is get the data off ASAP. Next, I would probably wipe the drive with a secure erase via drive commands or by dban. Then send it back for replacement. Diagnostics are neat but you know the drive is iffy if it's making strange noises. WD's RMA people won't care if you know there are errors or not, they will just replace it if it's under warranty.

Reply 17 of 21, by vlask

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Just run on it MHDD software and youll see. Anything over 500ms is bad, any letter is wrong too, especialy X, A, S.
Its dos software, on ultimate boot cd is too. Be prepared for about 2-3 hours till whole drive is checked.

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Reply 18 of 21, by retro games 100

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Thanks a lot people. I think the main problem is time, because if I try and return the HDD, I've effectively lost my main PC. A reinstall of XP would take ages - I'm not sure where all of my CDs/DVDs are. Because of the problem, I've backed up the HDD so if it suddenly goes, that's not a big problem. I ran the Lifeguard diagnostic utility, and it reported no errors, including the SMART test, but I haven't run the full 2+ hour test yet. I did start it for 1/2 an hour, but I needed to use the PC, so I cancelled it - I must find a 2+ hour slot when I don't need the PC!

I can't remember what utility I used, it may have been from the Ultimate boot CD, but several months ago I ran a very long HDD diagnostic utility on the drive which took 2+ hours, and it reported no errors.

Eventually, what I'll do is wipe the HDD and reinstall Windows XP. If the problem returns, I'll upgrade this 7200rpm SATA disk drive, and get a solid state drive, and put Windows 7 on it. That's my plan of action. Thanks people.

Reply 19 of 21, by Sune Salminen

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Run the disk check while you are asleep, or leave the house for more than two hours?

Western Digital probably has some downloadable disk test software you can try as well. I know Seagate has a bootable ISO with their own diagnostic software on it.

Clone the drive to another drive before RMA'ing it. Then you can continue using your PC as if nothing ever happened.