Dying fan/hdd advice?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by boredandlonely, May 28, 2015.

  1. boredandlonely macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2008
    mid-2010 17" mbp

    Getting a crazy rotational vibration, intermittently from the left side of my open mbp. I can't tell if the HDD is going bad, or if the FAN is going bad. I want to confirm one or the other so I can order parts and fix it. Vibration occurs sometimes at startup (at cold temp, no memory intensive apps yet) AND after long hours of use (at hot temp, with plenty of intensive apps running). It lasts roughly a minute, then is gone.

    I have SMCfanControl installed, and I check fan rotations when the vibrations start, and Left vs. Right are maintaining equal speeds.

    I can also check the HDD with Disk Utilities and get no issues.

    How do I figure out the guilty part?
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Open it up and clean out the fans, you may have some dust and debris caked on the fans causing an imbalance. You can then take out the HD and see of the issue remains.
  3. MacRobert10 macrumors 6502

    Nov 24, 2012
    If the HDD is having problems, Disk Utility probably won't report them. It's more interested file format and drive index related problems as well as regular info.

    You could look at the article on bad hard drive problems found at:


    Go to the site, click on the how-to tab, then click on the article about problem drives. It goes over a lot of stuff. I remember that when they said you think the drive is making noise verify that it's really not something else, just as you've described.

    From my own personal experience I've never had a hard drive problem make a system vibrate. Make noise, yes, actually vibrate, no, but that's just been my experience.
  4. boredandlonely, May 28, 2015
    Last edited: May 28, 2015

    boredandlonely thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2008
    The problem isn't repeatable on demand, so it's not really feasible to sit here with a hdd-less computer for days. And if the fan is reacting to app usage, removing the hard drive may prove nothing. The fan is so cheap, I might as well buy a new one and install it rather than cleaning the old one if I am going to all the trouble of opening up the machine. However, I don't want to open up assuming the fan before I know for sure.

    Myself as well. I have had both fans and HDDs go out on previous machines. Nothing was this loud, or vibrating this bad.

    i'll read up later on that link.

    What I WISH I could do is simply turn off the fan or hard/drive when the noise occurs to see if the problem stops or not. I'm not sure of how to do this with a fan, if it's even possible. I know I can boot off another drive, and shut my main drive off, but I don't have a running clone I would need to make it feasible while I wait hours/days/weeks for the vibration to start.
  5. MacRobert10 macrumors 6502

    Nov 24, 2012
    It may actually be neither the fan or the HDD. I had an old iBook some time ago and some of the metal shielding would periodically like to get itself in a position where it almost acted like it was amplifying vibrations, and doing it erratically as well. Other things I can think of are some of the mounting hardware inside the unit anywhere in the unit. Most likely would probably be the HDD, fans, or even the optical drive. The only way I think to get to the root of the problem is probably open it up and try and trace the noises.

    Drive noises may still occur if the drive is starting to fail even if the drive is unmounted and ejected because it will still be receiving power. If the noise is from the heads then it will only make noise when active.

    Good luck. Problems like these can be a PIA to isolate.

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