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I have been using the same hard drive to back up my main computer for around 4 years now. It hasn't failed yet, but has been getting increasingly louder with time. The sound isn't "typical" of normal hard drive, in that it sounds very scratchy, leading me to believe it might be defective. However, it has been working perfectly for a rather long time.

Lately, it has gotten loud. Really loud. But it still works. But now, I'm hesitant of even using it at all in fear of losing some information. I have another backup drive now, but...

Does a really noisy hard drive always mean that it is prone to failing? How safe is it to keep important backup information on there (assuming I didn't have another copy)?

Also, keep in mind that this drive is ALWAYS plugged in, and seems to be always running.

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    Some disks are noisy even when new, but you can never rely on a single backup - for precisely your question. If the disk noise has changed dramatically in a short period then it may be a warning sign and you should consider making a duplicate... What would you rather do: spend £50 on a new 1TB + a couple of hours copying or run the risk and lose the lot? – Kinnectus Aug 30 '14 at 14:29
  • You might want to check the S.M.A.R.T. information using CrystalDiskInfo to see if there's anything you need to worry about. – Vinayak Aug 30 '14 at 15:18
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No one can say with certainty whether or not and HDD will fail regardless on noise. However additional noise can certainly be considered a warning sign.

As to thei" "How safe is it to keep important backup information on there (assuming I didn't have another copy)?", again no one can answer it, but if the info is that important common sense suggests backing it up to more than one location.

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Back up your drive just to be safe.

It is possible the drive "always running" will shorted the life of the equipment.

Running diagnostics on the drive would be a good idea. You can usually find them on the hard drive manufacturer's web site. There are often troubleshooting tips specific to drive noise as well. Below is an example of Seagate's troubleshooting;

Identifying and troubleshooting hard drive noise issues

Normal sounds include:

  1. Whining noise during drive spin-up.
  2. Regular clicking or tapping sounds during drive access.
  3. Hard clicks when the drive heads park during power saving modes like Standby or Hibernation.

Abnormal noises include:

  1. High-pitched whining sound can be an indication of abnormal function.
  2. Noises can be caused by mounting issues. This is due to either a high frequency vibration in the mounting hardware, or a potential drive failure.
  3. Repeated, regular tapping, grinding or beeping.
  4. External (especially USB-only) drive clicking or beeping at time of connection, often accompanied by non-detection problems

You can never be too safe. Just the fact you are concerned about it means you need to make another backup.

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