Silence internal HD that is used externally

Silencing hard drives, optical drives and other storage devices

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Silence internal HD that is used externally

Post by silenca » Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:42 pm

I've been pouring over material here and on the web for several days trying to find a solution to my problem. I still don't have one. :( So, I figured I should post and hopefully someone will have a good idea! :)

I have a DVR and the hard drive is loud. I replaced it with HD204UI thinking that might solve the problem. Unfortunately, it didn't. Both the original drive and the HD204UI seem to have no audible whine to them, but I can hear the pitter-patter seek noises from them. Since DVRs run constantly, my living room is now not a fun place to read or do any quiet activity. No fun. :(

Because my DVR is designed to perfectly fit a 3 1/2 drive, there is little I can do in the case to solve my problem. I've already tried putting sound dampening strips on the side of the drive, and they do help, but certainly they don't fix the problem.

I'm sure you don't need all the details, but basically I figured out a way to rewire the DVRs SATA cables such that I can use an external drive instead of the internal one. Because it will act like the primary drive, I need to keep it simple. I just want to power my drive and run a SATA cable to it. Hence, I think I should avoid traditional esata enclosures as that adds an extra controller that could mess things up. Plus, esata enclosures will probably just have the same problem as the DVR!

Anyway, getting the drive out of the box allows me mount the drive in any way I'd like to reduce noise! Yea! Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like there are many good external noise reduction mounts out there.

Here's what I've thought of so far:

1) Use No Vibes III and just place it on a flat surface instead of mounting it in a 5 1/4 bay. Might work, but I worry about leaving my drive exposed like this.

2) Use Scythe Quiet Drive and just place it on a flat surface instead of mounting it in a 5 1/4 bay. I love that it would be enclosed in the Scythe so that I don't have to worry if my cat walks over it or something. But, from what I understand, the Quiet Drive doesn't do as good of a job reducing the pitter-patter noises that are driving me nuts, and there is no audible whine at all from this drive. So, would this really solve my problem?

3) Do #2, but put foam beneath the Scythe Quiet Drive before placing it on a flat surface. Should work, but expensive because I have to buy foam and the Scythe Quiet Drive. Plus, from what I understand foam can have static properties. Furthermore, the Scythe Quiet Drive by design should get hot to dissipate the heat from the drive. Could this be a fire hazard with foam beneath it?

4) Buy a PC case, leave it open or drill a hole in the case to run the sata cable to it and then use elastic bands to suspend the drive in the case. Would work great and is cost effective as some cases are CHEAP, but the negative is that it would take up a TON of space!!! Most of the case would be empty. Seems kind of silly...

It seems like there are really no easy or ideal solutions here. Any ideas? Am I barking up the wrong tree? Thanks for your help in advance!

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Re: Silence internal HD that is used externally

Post by Moo » Sun Nov 14, 2010 7:42 am

I use two or three layers of "bubble wrap" (rather than foam) under my external drives, and this works well to stop the vibration (and seek noise) being transferred from the drive to whatever it's standing on. But I don't think anything the drive or enclosure is stood on would do anything about the seek noise getting to you directly. I don't think mounting the drive in a PC case would help that much either really, unless it was well insulated.
One possible solution, enable AAM on the drive at the maximum setting, presuming of course that the drive supports it at all. This may lower the performance, but for a DVR it shouldn't matter, and it should make the seek noises quieter.
Another solution, if you are willing to buy things, is to get a 2.5" drive and mount that in some way inside the DVR (suspended?), combining good mounting with a quieter-to-begin-with drive.

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Re: Silence internal HD that is used externally

Post by silenca » Sun Nov 14, 2010 10:17 am

Interesting. From what I've read, it seems like suspending a drive will virtually eliminate the pitter-patter noises that you hear from a very quiet drive. I understand what you are saying -- the actual noises from the hard drive will not be eliminated by suspending it. But, isn't the general consensus that most drives today really don't emit that much noise anyway, and that the pitter-patter noises we hear are generally from the case due to traditional metal mounting?

Yes, I've considered turning AAM on, but I am hesitant to do so. My DVR has three tuners that can all record at once. So, three things writing and one thing reading would not be uncommon. In fact, my DVR uses an extra box that can also play streams, so three HD streams writing and two HD streams reading could and will happen as well. Can a 5400 drive like this handle that with AAM enabled?

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Re: Silence internal HD that is used externally

Post by MikeC » Sun Nov 14, 2010 3:33 pm

Choose option 3). You can use anything soft & stable under the SQD. 4 soft sticky rubber feet might be good enough or maybe strips of weatherstripping foam or a pile of holey old socks ready for the garbage or.... endless the things you can try -- how well it works depends on your floor, distance between you and the drive, and any noise blockers (like cabinets) that might be in the way.

1. To get an idea of what elastic suspension will do for HDD noise, just hold it in your hand while it's running and do a big file transfer to/from it. Your hand has at least as much damping effect on that chugging/chattering noise of head seeks as an elastic susopension.

2. To get an idea of what SQD + elastic suspension will do, put the HDD in the SQD, and repeat the hold in hand test above. The overall noise should be lower.

The second of the above might be the same as 1 -- hdd with elastic suspension -- mounted inside the case. Because the case will help block some of the noise.

choices, choices!

at least you have them. O freedom! :lol:

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Re: Silence internal HD that is used externally

Post by silenca » Sun Nov 14, 2010 9:53 pm

Thanks for both of your help! I'm glad I asked!

I went ahead and tried AAM as Moo recommended. It made a huge difference, and it doesn't seem to be causing any hiccups with the DVR. I'm glad I tried that! Between that, and the sound dampening strips I used, the drive is very muted. I can still hear it when it is very quiet, but its very soft now. Before, I could even hear it over the TV if I was listening to the TV quietly while the kids slept. MUCH improved!

I'm going to give it a couple of weeks to see if it still bothers me. I doubt it will, as it is really quiet now, but we'll see. If it still bugs me, I'll try your advice and get the Scythe Quiet Drive and use some soft sticky rubber feet. I think that is a great idea, and it will allow for good ventilation too. As quiet as it is now, I could also consider just putting it in a cabinet. I bet that would solve my problem now considering the noise reduction in enabling AAM. Of course, that's just as expensive as getting a Scythe Quiet Drive because I'd nee to get some type of IR repeater so that it could use the remote signals still. Or.....I could just buy a really long SATA cable and put only the drive in the cabinet. That would be the cheapest option.... We'll see if I need to go down this road or not. :)

I don't know why those low pitter-patter noises bother me so much. The ironic thing is that I probably would never have noticed if the fan in the DVR or the high pitched whine from the drive were louder. It speaks volumes to the fact that components are getting quieter in general! I think the reason the pitter-patter noises bug me so much is because they aren't constant. If they were a constant noise, I'd probably just tune it out. But, because they come in and out it really bothers me. Ticking clocks bug me the same way, but my computer has fan noise and it doesn't bother me at all because it is constant. I must be a bit hyper-sensitive! :)

Thanks again for your help!

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Re: Silence internal HD that is used externally

Post by judge56988 » Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:20 am

silenca wrote:I must be a bit hyper-sensitive! :)
:lol: I think that's the norm here.

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