When a hard drive makes clicking noise and wont boot, the most likely cause for this behavior is usually said to be bad heads. In my experience, clicking drives that won’t boot sometimes have heads issues and other times have issues like firmware corruption or a bad PCB. If your drive is clicking, it is important to have it looked at by a reputable data recovery shop because many times shops will quote for a head replacement, even if it is not necessary.
Hard Drive Makes Clicking Noise And Won’t Boot
This drive arrived with the client reporting that it was spinning up but not accessible with their recovery equipment. They mentioned clicking noises during use so I started with a visual diagnosis in the clean room. The heads did look good inside, and I couldn’t see any physical damage to the platters.
I connected the HTS725050A9A362 hard drive up to my PC-3000 to diagnose the issue and I found that 1 of the 4 heads inside the drive was not working properly. In this case, it was head 2 that was not functioning, leaving the drive unrecoverable by software-based methods.
Partial Recovery Without Head Swap
The bad head was not damaging the platter, so I continued with getting the data back from the other 3 good heads. When this imaging process was done I had gotten back 75% of the sectors on the drive (3/4 heads worth). I contacted the customer asking if they wanted to stop with 75% of the data for our base fee, or if they wanted to continue with a head swap to get as much data as possible from the rest of the drive.
Sometimes clients will want only a few particular files, and if those files are recovered as part of the 75%, they won’t have us continue with the more expensive head swap. Keep in mind that having one of the heads be bad means most larger files will only be partially recoverable. But if you are going after smaller files like documents, you could end up with about 70% of your documents working and recovered!
Swapping Heads On Clicking Drive
In this case, the customer decided to go with a head swap recovery as some of the data they really needed was under the bad head. So I ordered the donor drive I needed and waited for it to arrive. Usually, it takes about 5-7 days to get a part in, but sometimes with harder-to-find donor parts, it can take a couple of weeks to arrive. This is one of the reasons I keep a stock of thousands of drives for data recovery. I still run into models where I don’t have the perfect replacement head stack though!
Once the recovery parts arrived I continued with the head swap, which went really well. The drive spun up and all 4 heads tested as good. I had already imaged 75% of the drive, so I was able to just focus on imaging the final 25%. There were some areas under that head where the sectors were not wanting to respond properly. I kept altering my imaging settings and got back as much as I could.
Successful Data Recovery
This head swap recovery was a success with 94% of all sectors being successfully imaged. Thankfully the 6% that was not recoverable did not include any of the important files the customer needed! The customer was pleased to have their important data back, safe and sound.
If you would like my help with recovering your clicking hard drive, please contact me for a data recovery quote and I will get back to you right away.
Drive info: Hitachi HTS725050A9A362 500GB