The most common cause of a clicking hard drive is damaged read-write heads, often as a result of the drive being dropped or knocked over, however head failure sometimes happens for no apparent reason due to general wear and tear. Head failure is probably the cause of 90% of clicking drives, however the clicking could also be caused by corruption of data on the circuit boards read only memory (ROM) or the firmware contained on the drive.
The actual clicking sound you hear are the read-write heads searching for operational data on the drive and, when the data cannot be found due to damage or corruption, the heads return back to their parking area making a clicking sound as they hit the stops. This process repeats and sounds like constant clicking, although most modern hard drives are programmed to shut down after a few repeated clicks.
During our evaluation process, we test the circuit board ROM firmware and hard drive System Area for corruption to ensure you get the most economical recovery possible.
First word of advice… shut your hard drive down immediately. It won’t come as a surprise to you, but grinding is not good as it usually means the read-write heads have crashed onto the platters and are scoring the platter surface. Even a small amount of scoring of the platters can make a drive unrecoverable, so shut the drive down and seek professional data recovery help immediately.
If your drive is not spinning, or more likely is makes a beeping sound, it’s usually due to an electrical issue such as the motor not receiving enough/any power. It could also mean the platter motor has seized or the read-write heads have stuck to the platters (called stiction). Either way you need professional help to recover the data.
Blue Screen (BSoD):
Once all other reasons for the BSoD have been ruled out, such as installing new hardware or software, then we can assume that the hard drive has failed in some way. From a data recovery standpoint, BSoD is normally associated with OS damage, bad sectors or firmware corruption.
No Operating System Found:
As with the blue screen of death (BSoD), this is an indication that the boot sector on the drive has been corrupted either by sector damage or perhaps a virus.
Drive Won’t Mount:
Again this usually indicates firmware corruption or bad sectors. You may see the drive in the BIOS, but if the drive reports an incorrect drive size or ID, then it’s probably due to firmware corruption. If the drive can be seen by the OS and the partitions are reporting as ‘Unallocated Space’, this is a sign of corruption but is usually recoverable.
Accidentally Deleted Files or Re-Formatted Drive:
It is possible to recover files that have been accidentally deleted or partitions that have been reformatted. When files are deleted, the OS marks the space as being available to be over-written and reports the deleted files as empty space, but the data actually remains on the drive. HOWEVER, if you start to save new data onto your drive you stand the chance of over-writing your previously deleted data. So, in the event of accidental deletion of files, you should stop using the computer until you get the files recovered.
If you accidentally reformatted your drive, then this is a slightly more serious issue as a new file system would have partially over-written your old one, making the task of data recovery more challenging.