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I have a 320 GB HDD at 5400 RPM that I bought as part of the first Dell laptop I ever got. This laptop (an Inspiron 1545) was relatively fast to start, but performance declined over time.

But now, about 1.5 years after I bought the laptop, the HDD makes clicking sounds whenever I turn it on. It's been making the noises since Monday, and I want to know how much longer I can count on using it. I've backed up all the data, but it would not be fun to bring my laptop to a presentation and have it die on me right there. I have a replacement, but that computer runs my software rather slowly.

How long will the average hard drive take to die, from the time it starts making the noises until the time it goes kaput?

My hard drive info

Here's the info according to my favorite hard-drive checking program, CrystalDiskInfo.

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9  
All bets are off - plan a replacement ASAP. –  Linker3000 Jun 17 '11 at 13:28
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Hold on, let me get my crystal ball out. –  Moab Jun 17 '11 at 13:47
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There are too many working parts from too many manufacturers that produce similar failure modes yet actually fail in different ways for anyone to be able to give you any kind of realistic "it will survive another X hours before catastrophic failure", you might as well just ask "how long is a piece of string?" –  Mokubai Jun 17 '11 at 13:57
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String length is simple: LString = (0.5 * LString) * 2 –  Linker3000 Jun 17 '11 at 14:04
    
This is really more like "my transmission is jerking and grinding, how long do I have before it fails entirely?" –  Shinrai Jun 17 '11 at 14:24
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closed as not a real question by Moab, Mokubai, Sathya Jun 18 '11 at 12:57

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1 Answer

up vote 9 down vote accepted

It's been making the noises since Monday, and I want to know how much longer I can count on using it.

It could fail in the next 10 minutes or it could carry on for a few more days - however, there's no way of knowing. It will depend on why it's failing.

Using the machine will increase the chances of it failing. If you need to do the presentation before you can arrange the repair then assume that you're not going to be able to use your laptop. Back it up onto a USB stick and borrow a machine from someone else.

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The few disks I've had fail have all acted quite differently. One just made a clunk noise, and never powered up again. Another would work for a while, then gradually slow down til nothing came out of it. Power cycling let me retrieve all data, but working periods got smaller and smaller. –  Bruce Ediger Jun 17 '11 at 13:36
    
+1 As noted. Replace ASAP. Western Digital has testing tools that will further identify the issue but best plan is backup replace ASAP –  Dave M Jun 17 '11 at 13:54
    
Generally, if SMART is throwing a "Caution", it means back up anything you ever want to see again /immediately/. The noise clinches the diagnosis. Back it up now, and get a new drive ASAP. –  TuxRug Jun 17 '11 at 14:22
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If your HDD is clicking, assume it will fail 1 minute before you absolutely need it (Murphy's law and all). –  MBraedley Jun 17 '11 at 14:43
    
Last time I turned it on, I got a BANG! But it's still going! I wonder how much longer it'll last... –  JavaAndCSharp Jun 19 '11 at 22:04
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