There are many types of sounds that can come from a hard drive, but beeping is one that means there is something seriously wrong with it.
The beep of death is one of the last sounds you want to hear when it comes to where your data is stored, but it doesn’t mean your data is lost forever either!
What does a beeping drive mean?
Beeping is similar to clicking, however clicking can sometimes, and to a degree, be normal. Beeping can never be normal. If your hard drive is beeping it will sound similar to the video below.
Beeping, in most cases, means there are one or more components inside the hard disk trying to move but can’t. It’s stuck.
Usually it’s the actuator arm and head stack stuck: either under the parking ramp, or on the platter. This is called stiction.
However, it can also be the motor or spindle.
If your data is worth anything, each of these instances means trouble and requires a clean room and some professional help.
There is always a temptation to try to do this yourself, at least to open the drive to check it out. Do not fall into that temptation.
I have ruined many beeping external hard drives messing around with this, but thankfully the data on the drives was not valuable to me.
What hard disk manufacturers beep the most?
There are no particular types or makes of hard disks that are immune to the dreaded beeping noise. Laptop, desktop, internal, external, and even RAID array devices and drives are prone to failures causing the beeping sound.
Manufacturers like: Western Digital (WD), Seagate, Hitachi, Samsung, Toshiba, Lacie, iOmega, Drobo, Synology, Dell, HP, WD, QNap, and Buffalo all have the same types of drives, and all can find themselves in conditions causing beeping.
Beeping caused by stiction of the heads
The reason for this is the read/write heads inside are very delicate and any damage to them can end up scratching the platters where your data is written to.
Unsticking the heads in this situation might be the easy part, however in some instances if the drive is continually powered in this state it can cause them to stick even harder.
The heads can become easily damaged during the process of unsticking them. The platters can also become damaged during the process.
Sometimes you will not notice the damage without the use of a high powered microscope, which can involve having to remove them. When a drive has multiple platters and heads, the risk becomes greater. Read more about stiction and stuck heads here.
Beeping caused by bad hard drive motor or spindle
Hard drives have a motor and spindle that are used in spinning the platters around at high speed. If the platters cannot spin at proper speeds then the drive will not initialize.
Beeping will be caused by a burnt, broken, or seized motor,as it is trying to spin the platters but they can’t move.
Beeping will also be caused by a spindle that is stuck or broken.
In this case there are few advanced options that only data recovery professionals know of, and one of them is performing a platter swap. This also requires a clean room and alot of experience as each drive is different. Read more about bad motors and spindles here.
Do not worry when you hear the beep of death, life has not ended!