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I'm trying to figure out what's wrong with my brand new Seagate ST2000DM001(-9YN164) hard drive, if indeed anything. Irregularly, but seemingly every few minutes (every 3-7 minutes now in the time I've been timing it), it makes a short (0.2 seconds tops), fairly high-pitched, two-part sound. It's definitely not normal "working noise", and there doesn't seem to be any correlation to disk activity.

The odd thing is that when I was using the drive with a USB-SATA adapter (one of those dongle things, not a plug-in cradle), sitting on top of the computer case with a paper magazine for insulation, it did not make any unusual noises during the copying of around 1 TB of data from the internal drive (which was showing signs of starting to fail, including reporting uncorrectable read errors during a routine file system scan). The change after that is that I removed the old internal drive, replaced it with the new one and re-fitted the SATA data and power cables.

I used GSmartControl, which presents smartctl data (I'm running Debian 6.0 on this system) to inspect the drive's SMART data, paying particular attention to the Start/Stop Count (shown as: norm-ed value 100, worst 100, threshold 20, raw value 5), Seek Error Rate (66, 65, 30, 3981634) and Spin-up Retry Count (100, 100, 97, 0) (intermittent spin-up or seek errors was my first hypothesis, but the data doesn't seem to support it). None of these values seem to be changing, and everything (both pre-failure and old-age) says failed "never", which IMO is to be expected on a drive that has only been in service for a few days. The seek error rate raw value seems high but unless it's growing rapidly I don't see that as being a major cause for concern. Using the same tool I also ran conveyance and short self-tests, both of which completed without errors and show a lifetime hours value of 41 in the test log. I'm currently running an extended drive self-test (including a disk surface scan) but frankly don't think that will turn up anything of much interest. One thing that certainly is interesting, however, is that in the a little over 15 minutes now that the extended self-test has been running, I haven't heard any such noise, which, if nothing else, further points to something about the new drive being the culprit (I haven't been doing anything else differently in this time).

Using hdparm, I disabled power savings by as root running hdparm -S 0 /dev/sda (where /dev/sda is the drive in question). This had no apparent effect.

Any ideas would be appreciated.

EDIT: Following the suggestion of @totaam, I turned the computer off completely (including the master switch at the back of the PSU), then restarted, and gradually added complexity. Everything was fine as far as I could tell through runlevel 1, but at runlevel 2 (which in Debian is multiuser with X, so basically the kitchen sink got thrown in at this point) the drive started exhibiting the same behavior again. So, I looked at what was started when entering runlevel 2, looking for any possible culprits, and found acpid as a clear candidate. Disabling that, however, doesn't seem to have helped, even after re-running hdparm manually. I will take a close look at the BIOS settings as well, but in the meantime, here is a list of what was started entering runlevel 2, in order; does anyone else see any possible culprits? (And Seek Error Rate is still climbing, now up to raw value 4008400.)

  • statd
  • rsyslogd
  • binfmt-support
  • acpid (now removed)
  • virtualbox-ose (host kernel modules)
  • timidity
  • dbus
  • hald
  • anacron
  • atd
  • gdm
  • avahi-daemon
  • cron
  • cupsd
  • kerneloops
  • cpufreq
  • ntpd
  • postfix
  • sshd
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head park? if it never does it when working. . Thermal recalibration has to happen while working still. That leaves "new feature" Barracuda® hard drives now have advanced power modes. A green barracuda :-) So far You have not said anything I would Fear. depending on how loud it is. –  Psycogeek Jan 1 '12 at 15:55
Perhaps check it with Seatools? seagate.com/www/en-us/support/downloads/seatools –  Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Jan 1 '12 at 16:52
@Psycogeek "if it never does it when working" - like I said, I haven't been able to really determine a pattern, however it hasn't made that noise while running the self-test and surface scan. @techie007 Seatools is a good suggestion, definitely worth a look too. –  Michael Kjörling Jan 1 '12 at 18:32
Well, that same noise manifested itself again just after the surface scan completed. In 60 seconds shortly after that, Seek Error Rate went from 3991557 to 3991593 (36 seek errors in 60 seconds with me doing nothing active, assuming the raw value is the actual count). I'm not sure what's going on, but something is clearly amiss. –  Michael Kjörling Jan 1 '12 at 18:47
Increment in Seek_Error_Rate is, of course, related to seeking disposition of the head stack. The general trend is that it's either an issue with the low quality surface of the platters or with the drives mechanics. It appears, that Psycogeek might be right on the money here.. I would probably e-mail Seagate support asking for comments on the whole thing. –  XXL Jan 3 '12 at 23:37

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

If this problem happens fairly regularly, I would take the time to narrow down its cause since this should not take you more than 20 to 30 mins of testing:

  1. Does it happen if you leave your computer on the bios screen? If not, then the bootloader + OS is doing something to make it happen. By configuring the device/sata controller, etc
  2. Does it happen if you boot the OS to single user mode with (almost) no processes running? If not, then it may be another application that is making it happen.
  3. Repeat with runlevel 3..
  4. Repeat with runlevel 5

But from what you said, if it was me, I would just buy a new drive... my data and my time are worth more than one hard disk.

share|improve this answer
If the noise returns after the extended self-test completes (it's showing about 3.5 hours remaining and so far during it no such noise), I will definitely give this a try. –  Michael Kjörling Jan 1 '12 at 15:28
Well, that's a new clue, it may just be that the drive tries to suspend when idle which then causes this sound. You can try to disable power saving (both in bios and/or via the OS) and see if that helps. –  totaam Jan 1 '12 at 18:42
Disabling power savings was what I was trying to do with the hdparm command. Updating question now with new findings. –  Michael Kjörling Jan 1 '12 at 20:16
I realize this question has been sitting for quite a while, but indeed I ended up simply replacing the drive. Put a Seagate Constellation ES (enterprise grade) drive in its place and the noise went away completely. (Yes, ES drives are more expensive, but frankly, it's worth that still relatively modest extra amount of money spent for the peace of mind that the drives are built to higher standards, even if one could get the same result with consumer-grade drives.) –  Michael Kjörling Sep 23 '13 at 14:39

I have recently purchased three Seagate Barracuda ST2000DM001 and all three make the same .2 second high pitched noise. It appears to occur when the HDD leaves idle mode and goes to do an active seek. These are all new drives with little run time, so I believe it is a hardware design or manufacturing issue. The noise is really annoying. Sounds like the drive heads are about to crash. I have never had any issues like this with Seagate before. Make me want to consider a different vendor...

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Seagate has release a firmware update for these drives. Maybe it will fix this incessant noise problem...? See: seagate.custkb.com/seagate/crm/selfservice/… –  j. peddie Jan 31 '12 at 5:27
Upgrading the drive firmware from CC46 to CC4C (latest as of yesterday) does not appear to have had any effect on the noise. –  Michael Kjörling Feb 1 '12 at 6:56

You sound like you know a lot about drives, so it is unlikely that I will have something new to say, but let me go ahead and suggest something, just in case:

Could it be thermal calibration? The fact that the behavior changed when you changed the environment of the drive, and the fact that you do not hear it when the drive is busy are in agreement with this hypothesis. Of course, thermal calibration every 3-7 minutes sounds a bit too frequent, and it may be indicative of a problem with the drive.

I totally agree with totaam's advise to just have it replaced and not waste any more time with it or endanger any of your data.

share|improve this answer
Also, it could be that thermal calibration is quiet on your drive, and what you are hearing is the result of failure to read some bad sectors during thermal calibration. I suppose that during such a failure the drive moves its heads very rapidly over the faulty track, and that may be what causes the high pitched noise. –  Mike Nakis Jan 2 '12 at 17:19
I would call the 3-7 minutes an estimate at this point; it was what I measured when actually clocking it for a while, but it happens both more frequently and rarely. The fact that everything is fine up until entering runlevel 2 is another indication. I will be giving this a bit more time in the next day or two, trying to pinpoint the software causing the behavior (if any). –  Michael Kjörling Jan 3 '12 at 13:38

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