Do drives get noisy?

Silencing hard drives, optical drives and other storage devices

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Chris Beard
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Do drives get noisy?

Post by Chris Beard » Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:23 am

I've had my 2 blue scorpios for around 2 years now. I can hear them through my scythe quiet drives when seeking from 1m with the case under my desk. I'm pretty sure I couldn't when I first bought them but then my other components are quieter now.

So - my question is - do hard drives get noisier with use?

Vicotnik
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Post by Vicotnik » Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:29 am

Not in my experience, but seeking can be more apparent as the data on the drive gets more and more fragmented.
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speedboxx
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Post by speedboxx » Tue Feb 09, 2010 9:14 am

I cant say for sure, but I could swear some of my drives were noisier after 10k power on hours. Such as my WD Blue SE16. I have read that over time and heat the fluid bearings start to evaporate, which could be a possible explanation. With the older bearing drives, the bearings could wear over time which would get noisier as well.

whiic
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Post by whiic » Wed Feb 10, 2010 3:46 am

From my experience, I have not noticed noise level increase on any of my FDB equipped HDDs. The fact that I have not noticed it may be because:
- I don't have a non-changing point of comparison (because HDDs that are point of comparison are also in more or less regular use, and even extrended non-operated storage might affect them)
- I've added more HDDs from time to time so my noise levels have risen anyway. I cannot determine whether I've experience noise increase from a single HDD but I can say for certain that I've experience noise level increase from my computer. I don't mean that one or several of HDDs is going bad... just that 6 HDDs are noisier than 1 HDD. That's something we all agree on.

So, no obvious change of noise on any of my FDB HDDs, this AFAIK applies to noise profile... errr, spectrum, or whatever you'd like to call it. Though the amount of extremely high pitched noise of my system has increased. I should probably inspect whether it has increase merely because I've added more HDDs one at a time, or because some of the old ones have develeped a noise, or whether it's motherboard or PSU that has become noisier than before. The whine is barely noticeable because it's very high pitch. Someone younger than me might notice it more easily. It's quite difficult to determine the direction of it. It has an odd presence and not much direction. Slight TFT while, occasional slight tinnitus, everything being barely noticeable but when trying to find the source, it gets pretty annoying to have them all. I've tried spinning down HDDs via software but don't notice a clear source using that method. HDDs that are spun down keep their SATA interface active in order to receive commands (such as regular I/O request) that would return in back to operation. As such, that part of electronics may be the source of whine already. And the whine I perceive is certainly electrical compared to ball-bearing whine which sounds more like a grinder than tinnitus...

The only HDDs I've clearly experienced noise change are Maxtor MaXLine II / DiamondMax 16, 5400rpm BB, 300GB. Two samples: at 6 months starting to whine, at 12 months starting to develop bad sectors. Latter might be related to increased Non-Repeatable Run-Out (NRRO) due to bearing wear. I hadn't been bitten by the silencing bug when I used older BB drives so I cannot tell how they've done. And it's just a matter of curiousity really, as there's no unused BB drives on the marked and no-one would consider one even if there was.
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Chris Beard
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Post by Chris Beard » Thu Feb 11, 2010 3:14 pm

Thanks for the replies. Decided to live with my drives until I need more capacity.

grandpatzer
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Post by grandpatzer » Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:31 pm

from my own experience most of my drives are noisy, the only one that was less noisy is my 2year old 1tb mybook but even that has noise.

I'm going to install a 40gb SSD I'm hoping it to be completely noiseless.

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Post by whiic » Fri Feb 19, 2010 5:31 am

grandpatzer wrote:from my own experience most of my drives are noisy, the only one that was less noisy is my 2year old 1tb mybook but even that has noise.

I'm going to install a 40gb SSD I'm hoping it to be completely noiseless.
1) Your anecdotal evidence is utterly worthless as you don't specify what drives you are using. We don't know whether they're all 3.5" and whether they are 5400 or 7200rpm, nor the capacity (=> number of platters) nor the manufacturer.

2) I don't know if MyBooks have used GreenPower 2 years ago. I guess today they all use 5400rpm drives but obviously that has not always been the case (especially when WD didn't manufacture 5400rpm drives, and 2 years ago is dangerously close to the time of transition). Also, external enclosures can rattle. You cannot say the HDD inside is noisy unless you dismantle the enclosure and install other HDDs into it for getting a valid comparison. (Do note that even stuff like screw torque might affect enclosure rattling. WD products are mostly assemble-once-type of enclosures so they're just snapped together, not screwed.)

3) Comparing 2yo 1TB Greenpower (4-platter 00ZJB0 variant) or even worse, a 1TB 7200rpm Caviar, to a 40GB SSD is just a plain retarded comparison in every imaginable point of view.

4) This thread was about drives getting noisier - not about drives being noisy. Learn to read and comprehend what you've read.
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spartan117
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Post by spartan117 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:46 pm

From my experience, it is a definite yes. as time goes by things will wear down, and they will get noisy. Moving the hdd's around alot like in a laptop while its on dosent help either. my seagate 320Gb hdd is now by far the loudest part in my rig now, annoying but it's there to serve as my programs hdd so cant get rid of it :P
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seoulman
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Post by seoulman » Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:48 pm

Subjectively, I would say yes, too.

In my experience drives get slightly noiser during search/load with age (gradually after say 2+ years) when used heavily/daily. Never dramatically so, though.

(This happens regardless of content or fragmentation and so on. Any Windows drive left alone for 2+ years will probably seem noisier since its first day due to content "built-up", ie fragmentation, etc.)

whiic
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Post by whiic » Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:05 pm

In my experience drives get slightly noiser during search/load with age (gradually after say 2+ years) when used heavily/daily. Never dramatically so, though.
Actuator arm is still equiped with ball-bearings, unlike spindle which has fluid dynamic (self oil-lubricating) bearings. Reason why actuator arm is and will remain ball-bearing type is because FDB cannot lubricate properly in both directions. The spiral groove, or actually a "herringbone" groove that "pumps" the oil back to the "oil sump" will pump oil to the sump only when spindle is rotated in correct direction. Spin it in wrong direction and it'll have two effects:
- it no longer sucks oil from sump and pump it to middle of groove where it's fed back to the sump (i.e lack of lubricating oil where it's needed). This would cause excessive NRRO (causing errors reading or writing a sector because accurate head positioning becomes impossible) or spindle seizure due to increased friction.
- it no longer returns oil that attempts to leave the bearing but instead helps to push the oil out of the bearing which would cause leakage and either running out of oil (excessive NRRO or seizure of spindle) or head crashes from oil ending on the platters.

So, HDD's seek noise becoming noisier does sound feasible. It should be a bigger problem for HDDs that do heavy seek duty for extended periods of time as BBs do have physical contact where as FDBs the fluid prevents all metal-to-metal contact (except for a fraction of a second during start-up).
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MoJo
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Post by MoJo » Sun Mar 07, 2010 5:32 am

I have a couple of 500GB WD drives in my main system. The AAKS one has got more noisy over time, the other KS one is still quiet.

The drive itself is not making more noise but it vibrates more, causing the case to vibrate too. I have checked it and it does not appear to be failing, just vibrating a bit more than it used to. I have a P182 and the soft mountings are not that good.
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