I've started to notice a ticking sound emanating from my WD2500JB. It is not alarmingly loud. The sound seems to occur only when the drive has been idle for some time, and will cease upon (some?) disk activity. The sound has a regular, steady cadence of somewhere between about 4 and 6 ticks per second.

I'm not entirely certain that it just started making these sounds, since I previously had the drive — mounted in a USB enclosure — stored out of earshot, and only recently moved it to where I can hear it.

The SMART attributes for the drive do not indicate any problems.

I did have some errors to clean up recently (since I started noticing the sounds). The errors occurred on an ext3 filesystem. The drive had been powered down while mounted a few times prior to that fsck.

Is this cause for alarm? Should I scrap the drive on principle?


First, make sure you have backups of the drive content (advice is good regardless of noises).
Having experienced similar "ticking" noises before, I believe one of 2 things are happening:

  1. Your drive is dying (how old is it, BTW? You mentioned PATA, so I assume several years - in which case it's not a surprise).
  2. Your drive/system is over-heating. Look at the temperatures of your system.

Even if it is scenario 2, IMHO your drive's days are numbered - refer to advice at top of reply.

Good luck!

  • It's about 5½ years old. Overheating could be a possibility. It's mounted in an external enclosure — a Nexstar 3 — that doesn't have a fan. Also I've got it resting on its side and sitting on some sound-dampening "egg carton"-type stuff. I think I had an HDD temp running for this thing at some point that said it was okay.. I'd check it again, but at this point I'm loathe to run it for any unnecessary reason. I guess I'll be doing some Boxing Week shopping after all. – intuited Dec 28 '10 at 5:39
  • Again on the topic of heat: I noticed that it made the sound just a couple of minutes after startup. Not sure if that would potentially be enough time for it to overheat. Also.. thanks for the advice. – intuited Dec 28 '10 at 5:40
  • That's the spirit. Why not treat your computer to a new, shiny, silent SSD? ;) – Traveling Tech Guy Dec 28 '10 at 5:40
  • Well, let's not get hasty :) I mostly use it for bulk data storage anyway, so no need for SSD. The WD Caviar Green 1TB disk is looking pretty good — the energy efficiency will let me squeeze a bit more time out of UPS when the power goes out. I suppose an X25 would be even more energy-efficient, except for the energy I'd have to spend working to make the money to pay for it. – intuited Dec 28 '10 at 7:30

Your drive is dying, I'd back up/replace it ASAP. Same thing has happened to all my hard drives upon failure, one clear sign is that your read/write speeds diminish significantly after a few seconds upon access.

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