I recently bought an SSD and installed Windows 10 from scratch. As soon as I started configuring Windows I noticed that my HDD, which housed the OS before, started making constant clicking noises, similar to those you get when copying random files from one partition to another but even louder.

I reinstalled Windows a couple of times to get it to have the drive letter C. When I finished, there was no clicking noise at all so I relaxed and forgot about it.

I backed up all my files off that HDD and used DBAN to clear everything out because I wanted to merge all my partitions but there was a small partition in the middle that even EaseUS couldn't do anything about. After creating a clean partition (it's a 1 TB HDD), the problem reappeared, it was making the same continuous clicking noises.

The funny thing is, it only makes clicking noises when it's not being used at all. As soon as I create a single folder or file on the HDD, the noises stop. Once I stop doing anything on the HDD, the noises start up again after about 10 to 20 seconds. Hard drive's activity is 0% whenever those noises appear. Even when completely formatted, the head still sounds like it is searching for something. Copying files makes much less noise.

I tried lurking in the UEFI to see if I could find something, and I noticed something: the HDD was making the same noises inside the UEFI.

The temporary solution I found is to set the HDD to stop spinning after 1 minute, since it only makes that clicking noise when it's not being used, the hard drive stops spinning and turns off after 1 minute.

I have a strong case of misophonia in regards to repetitive sounds, so the clicking pattern it makes drives me completely nuts. Even the 1 minute I have to endure borders torture.

TL;DR: empty HDD makes continuous clicking noises with 0% usage but stops making noise when it's being used.

  • By clicking do you mean just spinning up like normal or does it actually sound broken? Are you more so wanting your hard drive to not get accessed or worried about the noise in terms of it may be broken?
    – Eric F
    Apr 5 '16 at 19:10
  • It's not broken, I checked it for bad sectors and it came completely negative. The spinning is only audible when it turns on. Right now I'm copying files to it and it sounds fine, like any normal hard drive. The speed is normal too.
    – FelliVox
    Apr 5 '16 at 19:12
  • So then you just don't want it to turn on at all? Why can't you turn it off in the BIOS or disconnect it?
    – Eric F
    Apr 5 '16 at 19:13
  • Because I want to use it (?). I was planning to use the HDD for my regular heavy and not often accesible stuff, since the SSD is a 250 GB.
    – FelliVox
    Apr 5 '16 at 19:14
  • Well if you want to use it then leave it plugged in.... It will make noise from it being used and from Windows checking it every now and then..
    – Eric F
    Apr 5 '16 at 19:16

Unfortunately, I can't make a comment to clarify before give you an answer due to community reputation restrictions.

You didn't tell if your change was in your PC or notebook. If it wasn't in your notebook, this answer does not apply.

I had the same issue when specifically used my HDD as secondary drive inside a Caddy for my Notebook DELL Inspiron 5421, using the secondary SATA port used before by the CD-ROM drive connected to the caddy with the HDD.

In that case, there was always a problem in the caddy. Then I found in the Internet some crazy geek that found a problem in one pin of the caddy, and them he said to cut that pin off. When I did it, the problem was solved.

Other symptom was a 100% use of one core of my CPU by an Windows IRQ service.

Both problems (HDD noises and CPU usage) did not happened using Linux.

Again, please ignore if this does not apply to your case. In my case was in a notebook using HDD in the CD-ROM port.

Image showing the pin to cut

The final result

  • Sorry for not specifying. It's a normal desktop. But even then, My idle CPU usage is very low.
    – FelliVox
    Apr 5 '16 at 20:22
  • Try run this command in cmd.exe with administrative privileges: wmic pagefile list /format:list And verify if you have pagefile.sys in the drive letter of your hdd. I remembered some "clicks" that happened in my PC due to pagefile with the same cfg (Samsung Evo 840 240 GB as C: and Seagate 1 TB as D:) running Windows 10.
    – adamitj
    Apr 5 '16 at 20:38
  • It sais: AllocatedBaseSize=1856 CurrentUsage=12 Description=C:\pagefile.sys InstallDate=20160329073904.566047+120 Name=C:\pagefile.sys PeakUsage=53 Status= TempPageFile=FALSE So I guess no pagefile on the HDD.
    – FelliVox
    Apr 5 '16 at 21:53
  • Ok, no pagefile on HDD. I know how this is annoying because my Seagate 1 TB does the same but less frequently and my CPU case is about 50 centimeters of my right ear.
    – adamitj
    Apr 5 '16 at 22:23
  • (Oops, bad Enter... bad Enter.) Continuing: if you have another HDD to perform some tests, does it make the sounds? I have 2 Maxxtor 500 GB that I used in RAID 0 and man, I just bought a 1 TB because I was crazy with that sounds. Maybe this is a regular and expected behavior? I'm trying to figure out some options to test as I have a very similar configuration of yours at home.
    – adamitj
    Apr 5 '16 at 22:25

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