Computer Makes Clicking, Humming, or Screeching Sound

Published by Nyau Wai Hoe - Updated on

It’s pretty common to worry when your computer starts making odd sounds, whether during startup or some other time. If it’s humming, clicking, or even screeching, these sounds can make you scratch your head. Many folks think the whole computer is making these noises, but often, it’s your computer’s hard disk drive (HDD) acting up, though other parts could be the culprits too. We’re going to talk about the different sounds from hard disk drives like humming, clicking, or even screeching, and what they might mean for you.

Also see: Why is my CPU Overheating and How to Fix it

Computer Makes Clicking, Humming, or Screeching Sound

Normal hard disk sounds

Spinning, whirring, or humming

When your computer starts, you might hear a gentle humming. That’s the hard disk’s platter spinning around. This spinning is a good thing; it means your disk is getting ready to work. These sounds are usually soft and not annoying. If you’ve got an SSD, which doesn’t spin, you won’t hear these noises.

What to do: Chill, these sounds are totally normal.

Soft clicking or chattering

Another noise from a hard disk could be a soft clicking or chattering. This happens when the disk’s heads move around to read or write your stuff. It’s typical, especially in older disks or when you’re moving lots of data. SSDs won’t make this sound because they don’t have moving parts.

What to do: No need to worry. But if the clicking gets louder or happens more, it’s a heads-up to back up your files just in case.

Sounds that could indicate problems

Screeching or grinding

A loud screeching or grinding noise is not good news. It often means the hard disk is in trouble. This screeching can happen if the read/write heads touch the platter, risking your data and the disk itself.

What to do: Turn off your computer right away and get help from a pro. They have the tools and know-how to save your data.

Hard disk loud clicking and screeching repeatedly

Loud clicking or knocking

A loud clicking or knocking noise is usually a sign of a bigger issue with your hard disk. It could mean something’s wrong with the moving parts inside. This isn’t like the soft clicking; it’s way louder and keeps going.

What to do: Best to turn off your computer and talk to someone who can help save your files.

Hard disk humming and spinning sound

Case scenarios: Understanding hard disk sounds through real-world examples

Let’s look at some real-life stories to understand better what these sounds mean.

Case 1: The occasional clicker

A person noticed their older laptop making soft clicking sounds when moving big files. A quick check online showed this is normal for older hard disks. The sounds didn’t get worse, so all was good.

Lesson: Soft clicking is fine during big data moves, especially with old disks. Just keep an ear out for any changes.

Case 2: The alarming screeching sound

A guy turned on his computer and heard a scary screeching sound. He quickly turned it off and got help. Turns out, his hard disk was dying, but he managed to save most of his data because he acted fast.

Lesson: Screeching is a big warning. Quick action is crucial to save your stuff.

Similar problem: Windows 11/10 Computer Blue Screen When Idle (Fix)

Case 3: The loud click that led to a quick fix

A user heard a loud clicking from her computer, backed up her data, and got it checked. The tech fixed a misaligned read/write head, avoiding a bigger problem.

Lesson: Loud clicks mean you should act fast. Sometimes, the fix is easy and saves you from bigger headaches.

Case 4: The silent upgrade

After switching to an SSD, a customer noticed his computer was much quieter. He learned that SSDs don’t make noise because they don’t have spinning parts. Plus, his computer worked faster.

Lesson: No noise is expected with SSDs, and it’s a sign your computer might be running more efficiently.

PC startup clicking and chattering sound

Understanding your hard disk’s sounds can help you know when to take action to keep your computer running smoothly and your data safe.

Related concern: Computer Fan is Loud When Watching YouTube Videos

Sound comparison with SSDs

SSDs are becoming more popular than HDDs because they’re faster, use less power, and are more reliable. A big difference is SSDs don’t have moving parts, so they don’t make noise like HDDs do.

Lack of moving parts

Since SSDs don’t have parts that move, you won’t hear humming, whirring, or clicking from them. If your computer has only SSDs, it’ll be quieter.

SSD with Windows 11 installed

Noise sources in SSD-equipped computers

Even though SSDs are quiet, your computer might still make some noise because of fans or other parts. But if you hear screeching or loud clicking, it’s probably not the SSD’s fault. You might need to get it checked.

What to do: SSDs won’t give you clues with noises like HDDs do. If something sounds off, another part might be the issue.

Suggested read: Does Faulty RAM Cause Freezes or Crashes on PC?

Considerations and preventative measures

Temperature and airflow

How hot your computer gets and how well air moves around it can also affect your hard disk’s sounds. Too much heat can make things worse, so keep your computer cool and well-aired.

What to do: Make sure your computer has good airflow. If it’s getting too hot, you might want to look into extra cooling.

Linked issue: Why Are My PC Case Fans Not Spinning?

CPU Fan Overheating

Monitoring tools

There are programs that can keep an eye on your hard disk’s health. They look at things like temperature and how quickly it spins up, giving you a heads-up if something’s not right.

What to do: Use a trustworthy tool to monitor your hard disk and check on it regularly.

Backup, backup and backup

No matter what noises your hard disk makes, backing up your data is super important. If you’ve got backups, you can handle most issues without losing your stuff.

What to do: Get into the habit of backing up your data often, either to an external drive or online.

Here’s what I think

Some noises from your hard disk are okay, but others could be warning signs. Knowing these sounds can help you take care of your computer and keep your data safe. Whether your drive is humming quietly or making worrying noises, being informed and ready is key.

Nyau Wai Hoe
Nyau Wai Hoe is the Founder and Chief Editor of With a degree in software engineering and over 12 years of experience in the tech support industry, Nyau has established himself as an expert in the field, with a primary focus on the Microsoft Windows operating system. As a tech enthusiast, he loves exploring new technologies and leveraging them to solve real-life problems.

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