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Data Storage Media

The Sounds of Failing Hard Drives 205

Posted by kdawson
from the never-want-to-hear-it-twice dept.
zzptichka sends along a link to recordings of typical sounds from 35 different failing and dying hard drives. The host of these sounds, Datacent, is in the business of data recovery, so presumably they have heard it all.
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The Sounds of Failing Hard Drives

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @03:32AM (#25731171)

    Pah, I've been hearing those sounds for ages and my computer's carrying on regardl

    • Re:Anonymous Coward (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @08:39AM (#25732527)

      My second ever computer's HD died. When it did, all I saw was my Windows desktop just sitting there - unmoving, like a digital corpse. I restarted and heard "click click click" and thought "why does my computer sound like a metronome?"

      Incidentally, "The Sound of Failing Hard Drives" sounds like an awesome song title for a geek death metal band.

      • by Moryath (553296) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @09:30AM (#25733069)

        about 10 minutes ago, all of their hard drives started making those "bad bearing" noises.

        Then they realized they'd been slashdotted and the servers were melting.

        Think we can get them to record the sound of a server dying to Slashdot Effect?

      • I got my first computer right when the internet was taking off and the old-skool destructive-type computer viruses were going out of style....a couple 6.4GB drives (mine, of course) were some of the last casualties of a virus that magnetizes the RW heads to cause a head crash and scrape up the platters in the drives. I am quite familiar with "click click click" as well.
        Then there was the time that the same thing was the result of a failed IDE controller....
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I've been hearing those sounds from my wife for ages. Should I be worried?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Gilmoure (18428)

        Might be time to upgrade to wife 2.0. Newer versions may require some customizing and setup but as a geek, that can be kinda fun. Until she blue screens on your for upgrading her incorrectly.

  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @03:33AM (#25731181) Homepage Journal

    Man, how creepy would that be?

    I bet it got reported as a "virus".

    • That's an awsome idea! Thanks.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by nmg196 (184961)

      What do you mean by the "ring tone one"?

    • Like... BEFORE Halloween.

      Some of the scariest sounds I've heard in years.

    • by rrohbeck (944847)

      Back in the late 80s or early 90s, rumor had it that engineers at DEC added firmware to drive the voice coil with PCM data via the interface. It was probably for testing purposes, but imagine what fun you could have with it. Actuators respond to well above 1kHz these days, so it should be good enough for voice.

      "Hi. This is your hard drive speaking. I found a bad sector at..."

      Seagate? Pleeeze?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @03:36AM (#25731187)
    EVER!
  • by adnonsense (826530) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @03:36AM (#25731191) Homepage Journal
    It's almost musical. In an avant-garde sort of way.
    • by Crash Culligan (227354) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @05:19AM (#25731529) Journal

      adnonsense: It's almost musical. In an avant-garde sort of way.

      Heck, I figured that just by reading the summary. Imagine my disappointment, then, when I got to the page and discovered the sounds were all encapsulated in mini Flash players instead of available to download, trim down, and load into the sampler of my choice.

      Nice variety of sounds, but totally inaccessible. I give it a D.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Get yourself a nice little present and install "FlashGot". It is a FireFox plugin and it will download whatever you like, including Flash and embedded media.

        • that just moves the flash file from the 'temporary internet files' folder to another location. it'll still be a .swf file. unless there's a way to extract audio streams from .swf files it'd still be useless for mixing.

          as a side note, i personally use the DownloadThemAll! extension to download links & embeds. it's pre-configured for downloading images, archives (.rar, .zip, etc.), videos, audio, software (.xpi, .exe, etc.), and it also supports DOS/Unix-type wildcards in addition to regexp filters.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by confused one (671304)
        come on guy. Do an analog loop back and use Audacity to capture it.
        • by fbjon (692006)
          What's wrong with a digital loopback? Just record the stereo mix component, or use some virtual cable software.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by maxume (22995)

            What's wrong with sniffing your traffic with Wireshark and downloading the mp3's directly?

            There might be some sort of issue with an ampersand though.

      • by BrentH (1154987)
        I sometimes get lucky simply by renaming suspicious temp files in firefox' tempdir to mp3. Usually you can discriminate on size which are probably the files you're looking for (mp3s tend to be bigger than the millions of 10kb ish files in the tempdir).
    • by dword (735428) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @05:46AM (#25731635)

      It's almost musical. In an avant-garde sort of way.

      +1 UserIsHigh

  • That Click! (Score:3, Informative)

    by denmarkw00t (892627) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @03:44AM (#25731223) Homepage Journal
    I've heard it one too many times, which is >= 1 times. I pretty much give up at that point - once the click starts, your drive quickly begins to stop :(
  • by cheese-cube (910830) <cheese.cube@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @03:44AM (#25731225) Homepage
    The Sounds of Failing Hard Drives: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
  • Bird sounds (Score:5, Funny)

    by tsa (15680) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @03:45AM (#25731229) Homepage

    A colleague of mine once demonstrated his bad hard drive as follows: "If I want to load that file, it starts singing." And indeed, the hard drive sang like a bird, but the file was never loaded.

  • Sounds bad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wowsers (1151731) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @03:45AM (#25731235) Journal

    The sound clips were interesting. Thankfully I've never heard these sounds for real. As a precaution I get new drives every so often and do a swap-out "just in case" the older drives might want to fail, it's not as if the drives are that expensive compared to yesteryear. The older drives then get used in non-critical machines so as not to waste them.

    I will point out though that I have heard the one with sounds like head failure (clicking) on a pocket USB connect hard drive (first drive I got of this type). By my own investigation, I found out that when connected to the USB port, the drive started to spin up, then didn't have enough power to send the head all the way across, so it parked itself, then spun again etc. etc. After getting a spliced USB cable, I take power from two USB ports and the drive is working a perfect as any other hard drive.

    • Re:Sounds bad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by something_wicked_thi (918168) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @04:48AM (#25731419)

      That's not a good idea. Hard drives tend to die early or they last for a while, so by swapping the drives out like that, you're just making it more likely that you'll fall victim to hard drive infant mortality.

      If you want to avoid the problem, set up a RAID 1 mirror or similar.

      • My experience is 3-4 years on a desktop machine, heavy usage. If they make it through the first month that is. One exception was when we bought a case of WD drives which apparently came from a bad batch. All of those suffered spindle bearing failures between 9 and 12 month (high pitch whine which grew louder until the drive would one day refuse to spin up).
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @06:07AM (#25731737)
        I've two raptor in raid, and I'm worried: by default, they sound like a heavy machinegun in a WWI trench. I wonder what sound they would manage to produce when failing
    • I would guess that the usb port you were connecting it to couldn't supply the maximum 500mA from the usb standard and the drive required it. Was there a bus-powered usb hub involved? Some old motherboards or the front-panels of some cases use a bus-powered hub internally to give you multiple usb ports, so connecting directly to the pc might still mean connecting to a port that couldn't supply full power.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @03:46AM (#25731239)

    Involves a penguin being smashed through the Window while squashing apples and ripping up an encyclopedia then setting a fox on fire.

  • but.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    do they make sound if there is no admin around to hear it?

  • Thanks (Score:4, Funny)

    by Elisanre (1108341) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @03:50AM (#25731253)
    I had to come up with some competition for our boring christmas party and this solves it. -What is wrong with this harddrive and for bonus points who is the manufacturor? weewt!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @03:55AM (#25731269)

    Setup one of these to play on a computer of your local BOFH and see if he/she is sharp enough to realize that the WD disk in his box cannot make the sound of a failing Maxtor...

  • In all my years. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sterrance (1257342)
    From my Macintosh LC to my Macbook Pro (even my PCs) I've never had a single hard drive fail me. Am I just lucky or is the occurrence of hard drive failure rare?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @04:15AM (#25731335)

      Either you're lucky, or I'm the opposite outlier to balance things out. I've had disks from all manufacturers fail on me, after using them 24/7 for a while. It's tempting to blame the cooling, but they weren't especially warm - I guess it's just a side effect of using a desktop drive harder and more than intended.

      On the positive side, I haven't had any problems for a while now ...
      (And now that I've said that, I fully expect to come home and find at least one drive having caught fire.)

    • by damburger (981828)
      I've not had one catastrophically fail (such that it would make a noise I could hear) but I have had old ones constantly become corrupted.
    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      It's supposed to be pretty rare but I have three or four dead HDDs lying around here, two of which simply fail to react to the power cable being plugged in. There is no visible damage to the PCBs but I think that's where the prolam probably is.
    • by reidconti (219106)

      Counting the 4 drives currently attached to my Mac Pro, I've had easily 20 hard drives in my past and current home and work machines, and only had one, an IBM Travel(death)Star die in my iBook. Actually it still works but it would make the click of death once a month and hang my box, so finally I replaced it.

      Many of my systems had drives run for 5-7 years or more, long past the useful life for the disk size.

      However, in college, it seemed like everyone had at least ONE laptop drive. So don't trust them lap

  • by RyoShin (610051) <tukaro.gmail@com> on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @04:04AM (#25731299) Homepage Journal

    Radiohead's Nude, done with old hard drives and other hardware [youtube.com]. Even if you're not a fan of Radiohead, I think it's worth a watch just to see the setup in action.

    (And don't worry, only the hard drives get "nude", so it's SFW.)

    • by Jugalator (259273)

      (And don't worry, only the hard drives get "nude", so it's SFW.)

      Unless your name is Bender Bending Rodriguez.

    • by shippo (166521)

      Setup screen? That's just the standard Sinclair ZX Spectrum tape loading mechanism.

    • by jweller (926629)

      I used to know a guy who had a file he would print that would make his dot matrix printer play "Hail to the Redskins"

  • by FRiC (416091) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @04:07AM (#25731315) Homepage

    The sound of slashdotted servers.

  • by wehe (135130) <wehe@tuxmobil.oSLACKWARErg minus distro> on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @04:11AM (#25731327) Homepage Journal
    Just in case you don't want or don't need to order data recovery from a professional service, which is often expensive and takes time, here are some do-it-yourself guides for data recovery from broken hard disk drives [repair4harddisk.org]. Of course you will not try these approaches if your data are really precious. But it you can afford to loose the data or you don't want to reveal them to others, these guides are worth a try to get the data resurrected.
  • by Willeh (768540) <rwillem@xs4all.nl> on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @04:22AM (#25731353)
    Every single one of those made me shiver like a leaf...imagine the lost porn on each of those drives and I think you'll shiver along with me.
  • by Wiseleo (15092) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @04:28AM (#25731365) Homepage

    This story is an example of a fascinating marketing win for the PR company handling datacent's account. Drivesavers just did something similar kicking off their FUD campaign against other DR firms, like mine.

    Heck, I published some videos on youtube how to rip apart external enclosures.

    So, what the hell, since this story is a slashvertisement, I'll play along! If you hear such sounds, give me a call as well. I can actually tell you what can be done with your specific drive and don't charge an arm and a leg, just the arm.

    http://www.harddiskcrashed.com/?sl [harddiskcrashed.com]

  • I know all these companies which pretend to be able to rescue hard-drives. But do the ones which ask for a reasonable fee (like $1000) really do anything?

    My sisters hard-drive died after her laptop fell around 25 cm into the table, some guy which is the friend of her boyfriend had looked at it but he couldn't read it so I guessed there was probably not much I could do either.

    I know there is various applications around but in case the head has trashed into the plates I doubt that really helps much? And I gue

    • by Wiseleo (15092) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @05:35AM (#25731587) Homepage

      Well, it depends on your definition of reasonable. We charge about $1200 to replace heads on such a drive. Laptop drives are easier to work on than their big brothers, in my experience. If the firmware isn't corrupt, then basically all you need is a clean bench (aka clean room, laminar flow hood) and a working drive. Impact damage means new heads, new motor, then perhaps firmware recovery as well. But, yeah, fiddling with a crashed drive is not the smartest idea.

      • by aliquis (678370)

        Don't you think the plates is damaged then? I think it's rather weird something happened for such a small drop to. My sister is very careful about her electronics, so careful she doesn't even have a computer bag or bring it with her even though it's turned of and all.

        I think she was lifting it and the power cable was plugged in so it pulled the laptop back so to speak, but still it was only a rather small drop onto the living room table. My MBP has fell down from the couch two times onto the floor and nothi

        • by Whiteox (919863)

          There are free hd recovery tools that work really well. THat would be the best solution.

          Try: Auslogics Free Trial
          I recommend Data Doctor Recovery NTFS if you can get a copy. You'll need to network/attach another drive to store the recovered data on.
          If Data Recovery can't read the drive (and it will take hours), then you'll have to look at professional solutions if you can afford it.

          • by aliquis (678370)

            So the later one is better? What's the disadvantages of the free trial? Only time or will it just show results without actually restoring something or such?

            To get another disc is no big deal at all if it doesn't have to be the same model and such.

          • by aliquis (678370)

            Btw I think the disc didn't showed up in the BIOS either, but I guess some programs may find it anyway.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Wiseleo (15092)

            GetDataBack is one of the better tools, in my experience. Active@ Undelete, UFS Explorer, and R-studio are also part of my arsenal.

            The problem with GetDataBack is that it takes forever to run.

            We only run programs like this on a read-only sector-level image of the damaged hard drive.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Wiseleo (15092)

          The heads are flying above the surface on a tiny cushion of air - about half a micron. If the shock wave is sufficient to disturb the cushion, you got problems. Heads should never touch the surface. A destroyed heads stack is less critical than a destroyed platter surface may be.

          The reason for the fees being so high is because of all the R&D we have to perform in order to be able to fix these things.

          Each brand has its own ways of being fixed. The nature of the damage also alters the chances of recovery.

  • Do these sounds come installable as part of a windows sound scheme?

    • by JosKarith (757063)
      Nah, they're part of the base schema. With all the swap file use from your average windows install you'll be hearing one of these babies soon enough...
  • by Alarindris (1253418) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @05:31AM (#25731573)
    Hello hard drive, my old friend.
    I've come to boot you up again,
    Because a vision softly creeping
    Left its seeds while I was sleeping
    And the vision that was planted in my brain
    Still remains
    Within the sound of failure.

    In restless dreams I walked alone.
    Narrow halls of servers drone
    neath the halo of an office lamp.
    I lay my forehead gently in my hand
    When my ears were stabbed by the grinding of
    A faulty drive
    That split the night
    And touched the sound of failure.
    • by vudufixit (581911)
      Sorry... not about a drive, but I still remember the ode I wrote to a huge OCE brand copier that was broken more than it was operable.... OCE can't you see? By the fluorestent light What so frequently failed, and caused such a reaming. And the managers' glare... Pink slips falling through air... Gave proof to us all, that this slag was still there... OCE does this breakage-prone copier yet lay... O'er the land of the unfree and the home, of, the frayed....
    • To the first four notes of Beethoven's fifth.
  • This link was almost as interesting as it was the first time it was posted on Slashdot, 3-4 years ago.

  • by vudufixit (581911) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @07:15AM (#25731999)
    I think that hard drives fail earlier and more often than people realize. I've believed for a while now that "winrot" and general perceived operating system instability are most often caused by hard drives in the beginning stages of failure. I think it's an underrated cause of random crashes, and boot errors such as "missing c:\windows\system32\hal.dll, etc" I wish the hardware vendors (Dell, Gateway, Apple, etc) would take more responsbility and be quicker to blame the drive (and replace it), instead of blindly having the end user run the recovery routine. Performing the recovery only papers over the underlying problem by temporarily rebuilding the file system. Because the substrate upon which the operating system rests is decaying, it's only a matter of time before the problems crop up again.
    • I think that hard drives fail earlier and more often than people realize.
      I've believed for a while now that "winrot" and general perceived operating system instability are most often caused by hard drives in the beginning stages of failure.
      I think it's an underrated cause of random crashes, and boot errors such as "missing c:\windows\system32\hal.dll, etc"
      I wish the hardware vendors (Dell, Gateway, Apple, etc) would take more responsbility and be quicker to blame the drive (and replace it), instead of blindly having the end user run the recovery routine. Performing the recovery only papers over the underlying problem by temporarily rebuilding the file system. Because the substrate upon which the operating system rests is decaying, it's only a matter of time before the problems crop up again.

      It's really hard to say...

      A failing HDD certainly can cause trouble. And I've definitely seen Dell blame Windows for what was ultimately a hardware failure. But Windows certainly has plenty of issues as well.

      I really hate to say it, but we've pretty much hit the point where many people are better off treating a computer as disposable.

      Most folks are able to use a Windows machine without too many issues for 1 or 2 years. After that it starts getting crudded up with malware. Many of these users are unable

    • by cowbutt (21077)
      I've believed for a while now that "winrot" and general perceived operating system instability are most often caused by hard drives in the beginning stages of failure. I think it's an underrated cause of random crashes, and boot errors such as "missing c:\windows\system32\hal.dll, etc" I wish the hardware vendors (Dell, Gateway, Apple, etc) would take more responsbility and be quicker to blame the drive (and replace it), instead of blindly having the end user run the recovery routine. Performing the recover
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If this were widespread, wouldn't "Linux rot" and "Mac rot" be issues as well?

  • by Yarcofin (1397091)
    I don't really want to go through the horror of listening through all those sound files, but from my own personal experience I don't think "the chainsaw" is on there. When my hard drive crashed, it started with a soft noise which within 30 seconds built to an extremely loud noise akin to a chainsaw, before suddenly and completely seizing up.
    • by fbjon (692006)
      There's a couple of sounds in the list from failed bearings that are quite hair-raising.
  • Writing a daemon that sits on the machine and plays one of these at slowly increasing volume for 5 seconds at a time throughout the day.

    Heh heh...

  • You young whipper snappers talk of the sound of failing drives. I remember and can never forget the smell of failing drives. When you get the call that the system wont boot up and you walk into the computer room to the very distinct smell of a head crash on a 14" platter. You ask the operator "where are the backup disks?" and she says "I tried them all and none of them will work". Oh crap she just trashed the backups.

    • I know someone that did that! Four disk packs and two CDC drives later, it was all over but the shouting.
  • A couple years ago, Gizmodo had a contest to make music out of Hitachi dead hard drive sounds. :D http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/announcements/hard-drive-dying-dance-track-winner-151666.php [gizmodo.com]
  • Reading this made me wonder, what can a regular ol techie do, if anything, in this situation? I'm sure most people on here know the freezer trick (store in a ziplock bag for 5 minutes, let sit outside for about 10 min, then it might work for a bit again, I think it's to get the bearings going again) But what other tricks out there are there to get the data going again, other then getting it professionally fixed up? Can you do a firmware flash on some of the drives?

  • I'm certain everybody has their own hard drive death story, but here's mine.

    I had a summer internship for an IT department at a large engineering firm. I wasn't afraid of Unix, so I was blessed working with that department (1995?). There were these HP 735 (PA-RISC) systems that had recalled hard drives. We were given serial numbers of the drives recalled, but had no way to map the recalled serial numbers to the workstations themselves. The team decided there was no way to realistically handle the recall

  • Some of the best ones, with direct links to the mp3s (on Coral Cache):

  • Well their site seams totally slashdotted and the page text won't load. At least the sounds loaded, I can clearly hear the whining, grinding noise of a dying drive array. Oh wait I left the server room door open, I'll just close it, that's funny the sound stopped. ............ NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooo !

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