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Hardware - Disk Drive and/or Fan struggling and testing

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Could you better describe the unhappy noises?

A high pitched whine sort of sound ("eeeeeeee") usually means a spindle is starting to seize. That could either be a fan or a disk. Steady rattling sorts of sounds can often be a fan.


Either way I'd follow Mouser's suggestion and copy everything you want onto an external drive pronto. Once your stuff is in a safe place you can start to fix the problem.

You also don't need an outside tech. You can create a system restore image from within Windows along with a boot floppy or USB key. Create those and just restore your machine to a new hard drive if that's what's needed. But copy off your data first.
-40hz (December 08, 2014, 06:30 AM)
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How about a low pitched "eeee ______ eeeeee _____ eeeee ____" that changes a bit based on unclear dynamics? I want to say I once heard this ages ago as a fan problem on another much older computer. I have tried to listen to the "disk" and I *think* it seems to just be clicking along.

External drive, check. I expect this to last past the day, so I'll get to it "almost as soon as I can".

But all that last stuff is where I get totally lost! (Blank Stare #1)! When my buddy who custom built this comp (and damn decent job!!) did it the first time, net total time that everyone underplays, was several hours installing all the fragments. I have nowhere near the knowledge to put a sys restore image on a USB (no floppy drive on this comp, fair enough), and "just restore to the new HD". I have the new HD - I planned that back in 2006. It's just sitting there on D. It was supposed to be for Win 10, but I'll back up my data and punt if I have to. But there's way too many weird wrinkles that pros/geniuses like you guys solve in minutes that would make me cry!!


Fan test are simple : when the PC  is active (but hardly doing anything!) simply block the fan you suspect is making the noise for a second. if the noise stops immediately, you have the fan in need of replacement.

Turn the PC off an look how this fan is oriented and wired up (take photos if need be) and unscrew it from it's location, take the fan to a store where you can buy PC parts and ask them to get a similar one (exactly!). Put the replacement fan back (now the photos you took earlier could be of help) and activate your PC to verify it works without noise. When it does, close the case again , turn the PC back on again and pat yourself on the back for the repair job you have completed.

Computers do attract a lot of dust, so it might be a good idea to remove the dust from fans and computer parts.

It could be that the fan inside your power supply is making the noise. If the back of your power supply consist of evenly spaced holes, chances are that you have a model that has the fan on the bottom of the power supply. Get a professional to check and/or replace this fan...or spring for a new power supply. This model is usually more expensive (but worth the money!)

However, if you have a power supply that has a set of holes forming a circle on the back, than you have a model with the fan on the back. When the power supply is active, press on the metal in the center of this circle. If the noise changed or went away, it is likely this fan is giving problems. If you want to replace the fan, get a professional to do this. Usually it is easier to get a replacement as they are relatively cheap (even here in Paraguay this model (500W) costs around 10 USD).

In any case, always check/remember how all connectors are connected before you disconnect any of them. That makes it easier when reconnecting. Well, it isn't hard and most connectors are shaped in such a manner that they fit in one way only, without the use of force. Still, if you are unsure, photos can be of help.

As a general rule, if you want to use force to disconnect/reconnect anything inside a PC, you are doing it wrong!

Cloning a hard disk (bit-for-bit copy) to a different hard disk isn't difficult, but requires attention to detail. First, write down all info (brand, model, serial) of each drive you plan to use for cloning (pen and paper). Identify which is the Source hard disk and make sure you know the info of this drive by heart. The other drive will automatically be the Destination.

Doing a bit-for-bit copy means that any data that exists on the Destination will be overwritten, so back this up first, if you want to keep it!

There exist a lot of software (free/commercial) to clone a hard disk. I'm personally fond of 'Miramay HDClone', 'MiniTool Partition Wizard' and 'Eassos Partition Guru' that order. HDClone lets you boot from CD or pendrive, select the Source and Destination and start the cloning. Depending on the size & speeds of the hard disks and the version of HDClone you use (the free one is the slowest) this can take time. Please use the available SATA connectors on your motherboard to connect the hard disks, any other way diminishes the chance of creating a successful clone significantly.

Don't expect free software to be able to clone a bigger Source to a smaller Destination, for example a 2TByte Source (bigger) to a 1.5TByte Destination (smaller). The Source and Destination must at least be the same size or the Destination has to be bigger.

When this operation is finished, turn the PC off (completely), disconnect the Source hard disk (completely) and start your PC again. If the system boots and everything is working like you expect, it is safe to assume the cloning operation was a success. Turn off the PC again, remove the Source and keep it in a safe & dry place, preferably in an anti-static bag. This way you still have a fall-back if after a month of using the clone you are not satisfied with the clone. To be really complete, mark the Source with a label stating its purpose and why + when you took it out as a reference. Just make sure you don't cover any hole on the hard disk.
-Shades (December 08, 2014, 06:45 AM)
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Hmm, thanks Shades for the effort, forgive the choppy editing as I try to parse the items.
"fan you suspect" ... Unlike the old days, and tell me if you think there's a latent bug, but SpeedFan is giving me about five fans doing various things ... (stream of consciousness, noise went away entirely for 30 seconds.)

So I'd be fine if it was one fan and you set it like 950 rpm or whatever, I think I did that once a decade ago on an ancient machine... but Speedfan is confusing me so I really don't wanna mess with stuff that gets VERY rapidly over my head!

(Post in Progress) - (I think in layers)

I removed a little dust from the top cover. About all I can do. I'm SO not a hardware guy so any suggestion of "open the casing" won't work for me!!"

(Another x-second lull of nothing. But the CPU wasn't tasked, it wasn't doing anything anyway.)

"chances are that you have a model that has the fan on the bottom of the power supply"

I have no idea what this means. There is no model. A buddy of mine built it from scratch with parts from the ground up and I vaguely even recall him explaining the heat reducing paste. I haven't been inside the case since and I don't plan to. I'm basically too much of a hazard.

(Back to a lull) No HD would fail that wildly. (Would it?!) I'm thinking fan. I just don't know much yet.

We get a little more my style here:
"Cloning a hard disk (bit-for-bit copy) to a different hard disk isn't difficult, but requires attention to detail. First, write down all info (brand, model, serial) of each drive you plan to use for cloning (pen and paper). Identify which is the Source hard disk and make sure you know the info of this drive by heart. The other drive will automatically be the Destination.

Doing a bit-for-bit copy means that any data that exists on the Destination will be overwritten, so back this up first, if you want to keep it!"

A. No pencil and paper write-downs. Tools!
B. Source and Destination are a snap ... there are only two drives!
C. Info by heart ... this one is a fair point, and it would take a little bit of care copying to merge my (older) backup with new stuff, along with a read of Programs Installed.

Then "OverWritten" is fine. ... because "We built this system ... we built this system to ..." ... uh ... have a spare drive 8 years later when the primary fails? But I'm still thinking fan. I'm trying to listen to the HD under the fan.

As to your last points, the source and destination are (supposed to be) twin drives - same size and specs. So cloning should be easy.

But ... I have grown both wary and weary of people claiming things are "easy". Put bluntly, they innocently/maliciously "forget" stuff that makes total life harder. So ... stuff. I'll stop this post here.

Having build and maintained many computers (for more than 20 years) I do this stuff in my sleep. But after your post, I suggest you let the friend who build your computer for you do the work. As a not-hardware person without an apparent desire to learn about this, don't touch your PC from the inside, you'll do more harm than good.

If it wasn't clear from my previous post:
1. Identify where all the fans in your computer are located. You'll have to open the case of your PC for that.
2. Turn on your PC, so all the fans are spinning and generating the noise.
3. Make sure the PC isn't doing any task that could generate a lot of heat.
4. Stop one of the fans by stopping the blades from spinning for a very brief moment. Use a pen or finger for all I care.
5. Did the noise go away?
     5a. Yes? Than you have found the problematic fan.
     5b. No?  Repeat from step step 4 until you run out of fans.

In a standard tower PC case, you will find a fan on the CPU. You will find a chassis fan at the back, close to the CPU fan. It is possible your PC has a second chassis fan in front of the case, usually close the hard disk. In tropical climates you can find fan(s) located at the bottom of the hard disk itself.

Depending on the model/brand of your PC case you 'll see a fan in the cover plate you have removed when opening your PC case.
Depending on the model/brand of your PC case you 'll see a fan at the top of your PC case (expensive models have this).
Depending on the model/brand of your PC case you 'll see a squarish block on the top or bottom of the PC case. This is your power supply. It contains at least 1 fan. Don't stick anything in there to stop the blades, you might touch something and electrocute yourself if you are really unlucky. Or damage electrical components if you are unlucky. Press with a little bit of force on the center of the spinning power supply fan. Did the noise go away or change? You have found the problematic fan, replacing this fan should be done by a professional. Replacing the Power supply is usually easier and more cost effective.

If you use a separate video card, it might have a fan. If the noise went away after stopping its blades from spinning you need to replace that fan. This should be done by a professional. Getting spare parts for video cards will be a lot of misery at best, so people usually replace the whole video card. If you choose this route, get a new model that uses passive cooling. One less fan to worry about.

The term 'bit-by-bit copy' or 'bit-for-bit copy' indicates you want to clone a hard disk. This means a few things. 1. If the whole procedure goes ok, you can work with your PC as if nothing bad has happened, no re-installation and/or configuration required. 2. All data on the drive will be overwritten and it will be difficult and possibly very expensive if you make a mistake identifying which drive is which. As you said the you use two drives from the same brand and the same size, an error is quickly made.

Cloning software often just shows you the name and model number of the connected drives, so with two drives from the same brand and the same size (usually an indicator that the model numbers of both drives match and if these come from the same manufacturing batch the serial numbers are a close match as well) you'd better know the serial number of each before you start the cloning. The port number from each drive can be of help, but there are motherboards that do not have a marking on these ports and when you don't have the (original) documentation that came with the motherboard anymore...selecting the source and destination drive becomes even harder. So if you didn't write all the information of each drive down on paper or know it by heart you will make an error and this whole thing ends up in tears for you.

The selection procedure is so important that cloning software asks you 2 or 3 times if you are sure to continue. As there are no tools to fall back to, you will be glad to have a piece of paper with that info. After starting the procedure, it becomes easy...because you have to wait until it is finished.

Again, if the blabberings from this post and my previous one don't mean anything to yourself a huge favor and let the guy who build your computer do a thing such as cloning for you...or any repair job for that matter.

Reading your other responses in this thread...Do I understand correctly that the hard disk you plan to use as destination in the cloning procedure, is already in use as D:\ partition. That leads me to the assumption the drive is already in use. Using an old drive for cloning is...well...not the smartest thing to do. Even here in Paraguay a new SATA3 1TByte drive from Seagate costs around 50 USD, so in you neck of the woods, those should be available for less. 


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