Oh dear…generally, a clicking sound coming from your hard drive is pretty bad sign. It could very well be a sign of massive hardware failure to come. The best advice is to back up your hard drive immediately if it makes any funny noises. In fact you should be backing up anyway! Check out the article about backing up for more information.
Now, if the data on the drive is critical (meaning you want the best chance of recovering it) we strongly suggest that you don’t play with it at all. Don’t even power it up again. The next time it spins up could be its last. If you have done due diligence and decided that the files are replaceable or otherwise not critical what follows are some ideas on how to fix the problem.
First, to make things clear: a clicking noise does not mean that your drive has or will have a hardware failure. It means that’s probably what will happen. Remember, you don’t always get a warning. Now onto possible solutions to the issue to get you up and spinning long enough to recover the files you need!
On Dat Level
Be sure that the disk is on a level surface or is cased at a level angle. You would be surprised how much the physical angle of a hard drive has on its performance. First make sure it is at a level angle. If it already is flipping it upside down (exactly and carefully) is a good step. Don’t do this while the drive is running. Power it down completely then re-position. If all else fails, try setting the drive on its side. As you are aware, hard drives are very sensitive to jolts and movement. Do be careful when adjusting positions.
Hard drives don’t like heat. Do whatever you can (besides putting your drive in the freezer – you really don’t want to do that.) to cool the drive before and while it is running. You can buy nice heat sinks for drives that when coupled properly can decrease heat significantly. Another solution is a USB cup warmer/cooler. You can pick them up for around $20 and they can be dissembled and placed on a hard drive to help cool it. You can even rig one to cool the drive while in a case during normal use! If you are trying to fix a clicking drive, be sure to keep it cool the entire time. If it gets too hot it could compound the issue.
If you are using a Windows system, you can use CHKDSK to check for hard drive trouble. Simply boot into safe mode and issue CHKDSK C: /R /F in a command terminal (run>cmd). This will run a disk check that will check for bad sectors (/R) and try to fix errors if possible (/F). If CHKDSK wants to convert lost chains to files, allow it. If you reboot after a CHKDSK and your drive still clicks, it probably has some physical issues. Please do realize – you can KILL a dying hard drive by running commands like this on it. Be very sure you are prepared to go down this road before you do.
Software Isn’t Always Soft
Why not try some “over the counter” software to fix your problem? After all the prices range from $50 which is much cheaper than even DriveFish’s flat fee of $199 for recovery, right? Software is not always soft. In fact it can be very HARD on a faulty hard drive. In so many words, running software on a dying drive can be the same as tossing it out the window of a moving car. There are some cases where software can be useful but never use software on a drive that is making noise unless you are prepared to lose all of the data on the disk.
If you are unsure about your chances or would rather have the professionals handle it – place an order!