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For the past two months, my hard drive has been making a number of strange sounds. I can't determine a specific pattern of when they occur. When they do, I close every possible task/program on my PC, but they don't stop.

I've checked my antivirus (Avast) but it was not scanning at that moment. Turning it off didn't help. The only thing that stops the sounds is disabling the Internet. This makes me paranoid that someone's connecting to my PC and crawling my hard drive.

The series of sounds consists of (by "scratch" I'll mean the normal hard drive sounds): four identical scratch sounds follow by one end up scratch with different sound. The whole pack of sounds is repeated every two or three seconds. If I disable Internet access, the sounds stop, and if I remain disconnected for a little while, when I get on the Internet again, the sounds disappear.

As I'm writing this, there are no sounds. Sometimes they disappear for a whole day. I've performed some scans with online tools, but discovered nothing. I have pretty good "online hygiene"; I don't open stupid links or downloading funny .exe files.

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migrated from Dec 20 '11 at 6:30

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Now is a good time to review your hard-disk backup procedures. Do you have off-site copies of important data? Have you tested recovery of data from your backup medium? – RedGrittyBrick Dec 20 '11 at 10:39

That's likely to be an intermittent hardware issue rather than someone remotely scanning your drive so don't worry. If it's not a solid state drive then it will have moving parts and therefore is possible to develop problems ( i've had completely failed drives in the past) I would first suggest trying another harddrive as I'm fairly sure this will make the problem go away.

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I have met a few times with this "clicking" sound. I suppose you have a HDD head problem which presents itself when reading or writing a certain area on the disk, or reading/writing in a certain pattern. A browser might be accessing the cache in a way that makes this noise audible.

When I met this problem in the past, it always ended up in a disk failure very shortly.

Usual method suggested: do a backup, and a thorough disk test.

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