Losing data from your computer or laptop hard drive is unfortunate and frustrating. On average, most hard drives last about three to five years. A clicking hard drive usually indicates that it has reached its lifespan. However, there are also cases where hard drive clicking occurs even when the hard drive is not that old. Remember that a clicking hard drive is not bound to indicate that you have an old hard drive. Hard drive clicking is a common issue and one of the major causes of storage drive malfunctions and data loss.

So, what to do if you have a clicking hard drive? First and foremost, remember that your data is at risk if you are running a clicking hard drive on your computer. Your clicking hard drive may run normally, but data loss is still a risk. Second, the method of data recovery depends on how you are using the hard drive. You might use the hard drive internally as the primary storage device or use it as an external storage media. Third, determine whether you need professional data recovery software or not.

Table of Contents

1.What Causes A Clicking Hard Drive

1.1. Clicking Due To Physical Damage

1.2.Firmware issues

1.2.1.Service Area Segment Issue

1.3.Electric Issues In HDD Connection

1.4.Manufacturers Fault

2.Other HDD Failure Signs

3.How Do You Recover Data From A Clicking Hard Drive

3.1.Recovering Data From A Physically Damaged Clicking Drive

3.1.1.Using Data Recovery Software For a Functional Yet Damaged HDD

3.1.2.Seeking Professional Help For repairing A Damaged HDD

3.2.HDD Firmware Issues And Data Recovery

3.3.Resolving Electrical and Connectivity Problems


Before going through the data recovery processes for each data type, let’s examine the causes behind a clicking hard drive.

What Causes A Clicking Hard Drive

A Hard Disk Drive (HDD) is made up of mechanical parts. The clicking sound that you hear from your HDD is most likely due to one of these mechanical parts called the actuator arm. The actuator arm is responsible for reading and writing data from the different memory sectors in an HDD. The erratic or troubled movement of the actuator arm causes the disk controller (hardware on the HDD) to reset its position to the initial or home sector repeatedly. This recurrent position setting causes the clicking sound that you hear.

There are several reasons behind a damaged actuator arm. Generally, these reasons fall into one of the four categories below.

  • Physical damage
  • Firmware issues
  • Electrical issues
  • Manufacturer’s defect

Clicking Due To Physical Damage

From the three causes mentioned above, physical damage to a hard drive is the most prevalent reason behind hard drive clicking. There are several ways you can cause physical damage to your computer’s hard drive. The most common causes include:

  • Liquid or water spillage on the hard drive
  • Cosmetic damage due to dropping or hitting the hard drive or computer
  • Exposing the hard drive to extreme cold or hot temperatures

Zoomed-in picture of an HDD platter and actuator arm which causes clicking in the HDD.

Other mechanical issues like platter misalignment, actuator arm misalignment, and HDD printed circuit board (PCB) damage also stem from physical damage. Besides damaging the mechanics, physical damage may render a hard drive completely useless. Therefore, it is advised to take special care when handling hard drives.

Firmware issues

An HDD with its PCB board lying beside it as well as some open screws giving concept of firmware malfunction in an HDD.

Like any other computer device, HDDs also come with firmware baked onto them by their manufacturer. The firmware helps connect the HDD to the computer and keeps the HDD running smoothly without any errors. Unlike the usual data you store on an HDD, the HDD firmware is not directly accessible by the HDD user. Corruption in the HDD firmware may cause the drive controller to behave inaccurately. It may result in inaccurate actuator movement, and hence the clicking sound occurs.

Service Area Segment Issue

Service Area (SA) malfunction is one of the most common firmware errors in HDDs. The SA is a segment on an HDD where the manufacturer writes critical data for the correct functioning of the HDD. It can get corrupted due to bad sectors and errors in the reading and writing processes. In the case of SA corruption, users can not do much because the SA segment is not directly accessible.

Electric Issues In HDD Connection

There may be an exceptional case where you own a relatively new HDD, yet it gives you the clicking sound. It is better to look at the HDD’s connection with the motherboard in such cases. Poor connection often leads to a low power supply to the HDD. It causes inconsistent running of the HDD and might result in a clicking hard drive. 

Manufacturers Fault

If you own a new HDD that causes clicking and malfunctioning, try claiming a warranty with the manufacturer. Undoubtedly, faulty hard drives do show up on store shelves. You have the right to get cashback if a faulty HDD by the manufacturer ends up on your computer. You should note that you may get a new HDD from the warranty claim, but these warranties often do not cover the recovery of data from the old HDD. 

You can see how the drive actually makes the clicking sound in the video below.

Now that you know what may cause a clicking hard drive, it is better to know other possible signs of data loss from your computer’s HDD.


Other HDD Failure Signs

Apart from the clicking sound, if you experience any of the following circumstances during the functioning of your HDD, know that your data is at risk.

  • Your system fails to startup (boot) properly.
  • Your system shows an “Operating System not found” message during startup.
  • Your computer’s hard drive doesn’t start at all.
  • The system boots repetitively or gives you a blue screen ‘system crash’ message.

Therefore, you never know when your primary storage device will die. As a precautionary step, why not read these data recovery methods to recover your computer’s data safely. 


How Do You Recover Data From A Clicking Hard Drive

Generally, recovering data from damaged HDD falls involves two methods. You can either use a data recovery software or opt for your local data recovery service. Since this post deals with the specific issue of clicking hard drives, I will mention the scenarios where software recovery will work and when professional intervention is needed.

Recovering Data From A Physically Damaged Clicking Drive

The data recovery method and the amount of data you can recover from a physically damaged drive depend entirely on the drive’s condition.

Using Data Recovery Software For a Functional Yet Damaged HDD

Suppose an internal HDD, which holds the operating system (OS), is detected by the computer despite its clicking. In that case, you should go for data recovery software. Following are the most widely used data recovery software used for functional HDDs.Some popular disk recovery software for windows include:


It is always a good idea to check the health of your hard drive before using any of the data recovery software above. You can use the CrystalDiskInfo to check for the health of your HDD.

Seeking Professional Help For repairing A Damaged HDD

As it is common with physically damaged HDDs, you will most likely need the help of a professional to recover data from a clicking hard drive. Since an HDD contains multiple mechanical components, not all personal computer (PC) users have all the tools to deal with those pesky tiny screws. Moreover, you always stand at a risk of further harming the storage media due to unwanted accidents. It is best to leave the internal repairing of an HDD to a professional working at your nearest data recovery center.

A man holding an open hard disk drive in his hand for inspection, giving concept of professional assistance in HDD repair.

JetData can help you with all forms of data recovery related to HDDs. Our professionals have experience spanning several years in data recovery. Whether you have a faulty PC HDD or a whole RAID system, we have got you covered. You can call us at our 24/7 service to book an appointment.

HDD Firmware Issues And Data Recovery

As mentioned above, PC users can not access the HDD firmware in most cases. Even if someone does get access to the HDD firmware, the manufacturer’s encoding methods and other settings will only complicate the recovery process for newbies. If the data on your HDD is quite important, then it is worth it to seek help from data recovery specialists.

An orange colored screw driver lying over a clicking hard drive without the HDD lid.

As far as the Service Area (SA) malfunction is concerned, remember that it is a piece of firmware that is wholly barricaded from the PC user. In fact, your best (the only) bet is to seek professional help. Even professionals have a hard time recovering data from an HDD with a faulty SA. Nonetheless, your chances of recovering lost data are relatively high.

Resolving Electrical and Connectivity Problems

As we saw earlier in this post, a clicking hard drive does not need to be old. Newer Hard drives can also start clicking. This unwanted clicking in a new HDD often results from incompatible or faulty HDD power connections or electrical surges. Taking the following measures will help you weed out any power or electrical issues.

  1. Check if the HDD connection cable is preventing complete electricity supply. Try changing the power cable. 
  2. Ensure that your computer receives a stable and complete electricity supply even in power surges.
  3. Make sure that you use a compatible USB cable type with your external hard drive. 
  4. Try connecting the internal HDD that is clicking externally.


Clicking HDDs usually result in physical damage to the HDD, firmware malfunctions, or electrical or connectivity issues. Usually, old HDDs suffer from clicking; however, newer HDDs may also experience this issue. If a new HDD gives a clicking sound, it is likely due to electrical issues or a fault from the manufacturer’s side. You can get your data back from an HDD that was clicking due to electrical problems. However, there is no guarantee that your computer’s HDD manufacturer will recover data for you if the HDD malfunctioned within warranty.

Physical damage is the most prevalent cause of clicking hard drives. If the drive is functional, recovery software may help get your data back. Otherwise, you will need professional help to recover data.

Jetdata can help you recover data with ease. Just give us a call, and we will perform emergency data recovery procedures for your failing HDD. For more details click here.