How To Fix A Beeping External Hard Drive

What happens when a faithful external drive gives up the ghost? If your external hard drive starts making a beeping noise, here’s what you need to know.

Try backing up your beeping external hard drive

Depending on why your hard drive beeps, the specific issue, you may or may not have access to the drive when it’s plugged into your computer.

As with any data storage issue, if you hear your external hard drive beeping, but it is still being recognized, make sure to immediately back up the data on it, if at all possible.

Copy all your files to an alternative external hard drive or, even better, to a cloud storage service.

What an external hard drive beeping noise might mean

Different external hard drives indicate different kinds of problems by emitting an audible beep.

While the details vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, the most common problem that causes beeping is a lack of power (no manufacturer is immune: iOmega, Maxtor, Western Digital, LaCie, Seagate, Toshiba, etc).external-hard-drive-beeping

The issue may well be caused by a faulty cable or a bad port. If this is the case, you may be able to fix your drive fairly easily.

If this is not the problem then your drive is experiencing a  more serious issue:

  1. Stiction
  2. Seized Spindle
  3. Burnt or Seized Motor

Try an alternative power supply / cable

One fairly safe step to take is to try a few different connection combinations to restore full power to your external hard drive.

In case the problem is serious, do not leave the drive plugged in for more than it takes to determine if the drive is still beeping and immediately unplug it.

Try a different USB port

Plug your drive into a different USB port on your computer, and try using a different cable if you have one available.external-hard-drives

Some external drives (e.g. Maxtor OneTouch or Seagate FreeAgent Go Classic) come with dual-port cables designed to hook into two USB ports at one time. While hooking up both ports is normally not necessary, plugging in both connectors may give a starving drive the power boost it needs!

Do not attempt hard drive surgery without proper tools!

When it comes to more aggressive repair work on your drive, you should tread very carefully.

It is sometimes possible to retrieve data from a failing external drive by removing it from its case and connecting to it directly to the computer via SATA cable. This is only successful in about one in ten cases. (DO NOT ACTUALLY REMOVE THE SCREWS that hold the drives’s metal casing together, or open the actual hard drive itself)beeping-external-hard-drive

Do not attempt this procedure if you do not have the proper equipment and experience! You’ll need a SATA dock or a SATA / USB adapter at a bare minimum.

If the data on your drive is particularly important and you’ve never pulled a drive from its case before, it’s a much better idea to simply take it to a specialist.

Consider calling on professionals early

Before you roll up your sleeves and attempt to do your own repairs, though, carefully consider the value of the data on your external hard drive.

With most hard drive malfunctions, unskilled attempts to fix the problem — or repeated attempts to reconnect the drive — can cause further damage.

I’ve learned over the past, that if you want the very best odds of recovering your data successfully, your best bet is to bring your drive to a data recovery specialist immediately.

Firms that specialize in this field have a vast array of tools and techniques at their disposal to get your data off your drive and restore it to proper working order (if at all possible).

Hard drive failures are intensely frustrating, but they’re not all that exceptional. If your external drive starts beeping at you, you should really contact an expert sooner rather than later.