Hard Drive Makes Noise During Defrag

by on November 20, 2007

Q: I am unable to defrag my main hard drive past 24%. I am running Windows XP pro (sp2) fully updated. The system is an old AMD Athlon Socket A board. The hard drive in question is a Western Digital 160GB drive (model WDC WD1600JB-32FUA0). Also, sometimes at random intervals, the system “blue screens” (on average once every couple days) and it’s always the same thing “ntfs.sys” that is apparently generating the error. I could be doing anything, playing a game, working, downloading, even clicking on something, it seems any random operation can generate the blue screen ntfs.sys error. This is the only hard drive in the system. When defrag hits 24%, I can hear the hard drive going crazy! It has a lot of important work related data on it and I really would not want to format unless it is absolutely necessary (note that I do have a few old hard drives laying around if need be). Geeks, help me!

A: Normally, I would suggest doing an error check by going My Computer => right-click on hard drive => Properties => Tools => Error-checking => and then choose both checkboxes. However, the fact that you can consistently hear the hard drive malfunctioning when it reaches 24% during defrags is very concerning. The noise suggests that your hard drive is physically damaged. Physical damage would also explain the Blue Screen of Death and NTFS errors. You may have seen hard drive statistics like 5400RMP or 7200RPM. Of course, these numbers express how fast the mechanisms inside a hard drive are moving. Sometimes, one or more of the parts inside a hard drive slip while moving at incredible speeds. This can cause grinding and other forms of destruction in the hard drive. After such damage occurs, the hard drive is unreliable and should be replaced immediately.

Don’t forget to backup your important data before replacing the hard drive. You may also want to consider attempting to use a program like Gateway Computer’s GWSCAN to “write zeros” to your malfunctioning hard drive. Writing zeros is the only way to insure that your sensitive data have been erased before you dispose of the malfunctioning hard drive. Please recycle your old hard drive instead of throwing it away. Many computer hardware companies offer electronics recycling services. Some recycle centers and community programs do as well.

If you purchased the hard drive within the past few years, it might be worth your time to see if Western Digital will replace the hard drive under the terms of the manufacturer’s warranty. Consult Western Digital’s Warranty Services and Information web page for more details. Lastly, many stores offer extended warranties on hard drives. If you purchased one, you may be able to get the hard drive replaced at the store where you purchased it.

Good Luck!