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Q&A

Why does my external Hard Drive keep squealing?

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As soon as I plug in the USB cable to my desktop's USB port, and the external Hard Drive starts spinning, it keeps scritching. Please listen to my audio file.

I bought it in 2015, but I plug it in just 4 times a year to backup files. It appears normally in Windows Explorer.

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Depends on type of HD (1 comment)

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Nobody can tell with 100% certainty, but better be safe than sorry: If this is your only backup, then get another HDD for backup.

I would suggest to get yourself some diagnostic tool that can read S.M.A.R.T. information (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.M.A.R.T.) from the HDD, for example CrystalDiskInfo (https://crystalmark.info/en/software/crystaldiskinfo/). If you don't like CrystalDiskInfo, there are plenty of other diagnostics tools out there, so the world is your oyster, and a seach engine is your friend...

While S.M.A.R.T. data sometimes can fail to indicate some problem, if S.M.A.R.T. data indicates a problem you know for sure your HDD is in trouble. (In other words: If S.M.A.R.T. data says there is a problem, then there is absolutely a problem. If S.M.A.R.T. data says there is no problem, well, there might still be a problem.)

Pay particular attention to the S.M.A.R.T. data attributes for:

  • "Reallocated Sectors Count"
  • "Spin Retry Count"
  • "Reported Uncorrectable Errors"
  • "Current Pending Sector Count"
  • "(Offline) Uncorrectable Sector Count"

Look whether the current parameter values of either of these parameters is below the defined threshold value. The current parameter value being below the threshold indicates that the drive has -- or had -- issues.

Also keep an eye on the "Temperature" and/or "Airflow Temperature" parameter. While different drives have different tolerances with regard to operating temperatures, a drive temperature around or higher than 60°C would be concerning in my opinion. (To be truthful, I personally try to avoid operating temperatures higher than 50°C for HDDs.)


Side notes:

That said, some HDD models are naturally noisy (with the characteristics of the noise also depending on how and in what enclosure/frame/cage a HDD is mounted). And the head movements (that's what can be heard in your audio recording) might be just HDD activity caused by whatever software on your Windows PC trying to access something on that HDD.

But hearing your audio, I am nevertheless concerned, both because of the sheer amount of head movements, and also because of the thumping sounds inbetween. These thumping sounds feel to me like the HDD is parking its heads as part of a "reset" after a series of failed read attempts. Not sure if that is really the case (again: I don't know nothing about the actual HDD model, and I know nothing about the state of your Windows PC and whatever software you have installed), but I have to admit that your audio recording makes me feel uncomfortable, too.

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