New Alum MacBook: Occasional Clicking noise from HD

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Compile 'em all, Nov 17, 2008.

  1. Compile 'em all macrumors 601

    Compile 'em all

    Apr 6, 2005
    There seems to be an occasional clicking noise coming from the hard drive on my new alumn macbook . is that normal? anyone experiencing the same? diskutility says nothing is wrong with it and it seems to be functioning fine so far.

    The noise seems to come up every 1 min or so when there is no disk activity (no copying etc).
  2. tarheel23 macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2008
    I think the same thing is happening to my new alum macbook. It's this clicking and whirring sound (like sound of the dvd drive ejecting a disk)? It happens whenever I load disk utility and sometimes randomly.
  3. Compile 'em all thread starter macrumors 601

    Compile 'em all

    Apr 6, 2005
    it is definitely coming from my hard drive. I downloaded hdparm and set the power settings on the drive to max, and the noise stopped.
  4. hmai18 macrumors 6502

    Mar 26, 2008
  5. Submerged macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2003
    Same problem

    Within 15 minutes of owning my macbook I actually had the same issue. The hard drive with giving me rhythmic clicking and froze. When I tried to restart, OS X wouldn't boot. I got a folder with a question mark on it instead, meaning the disk drive couldn't be read, I assume. I gave it a small tap and it off it went. It works perfect now and hasn't had the same issue. It was alarming enough that I called apple, but opted not to return it since I just got it
  6. Compile 'em all thread starter macrumors 601

    Compile 'em all

    Apr 6, 2005
    that is exactly what is happening. I emailed apple today asking for a replacement drive. Didn't get an answer yet though!
  7. fuzzycuffs macrumors member


    Oct 15, 2008
    I've heard the same thing, usually when I pick up the macbook and move it somewhat suddenly. Is there an accelerometer in these things that senses sudden-ish movements and parks the heads so that there isn't damage if you drop it? This is my first mac, but I remember hearing something about that in the past.
  8. brop52 macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2007
    There are two different issues. One is loud clicking like cards in spokes and the other is faint intermittent clicking. If you have the first sound you may need some fans replaced. The second sound can be fixed with hdapm as said previously.

    I have the second sound but haven't run hdapm yet on the drive. It happens without any movement at all. Hdapm works very well as reported though. It makes the clicking sound on the two original HDDs I had and also on my third party bought Hitachi 5400 RPM travelstar.
  9. Compile 'em all thread starter macrumors 601

    Compile 'em all

    Apr 6, 2005
    Yeah, i have the second kind of noise and hdapm does work, but is this normal? i dont think so.
  10. doug in albq Suspended

    doug in albq

    Oct 12, 2007
    I tried hdapm and it said it was successfully installed. However, after my next re-boot my console said that hdapm was not supported, and the program did not load up. I have read elsewhere that people had success with hdapm after the initial boot after installing only to have it not work after the next boot after that. I get the occasional sound of a "ping pong ball dropping on a hard surface" myself. I tried hdapm and it did not continue to work for me. I also experimented with turning off the "Sudden Motion Sensor" (using macPilot), ad that did nothing either. My clicking sound is rather quiet, only being noticeable in a very quiet room. Also, the sound happens very intermittently, but sometimes it will be every few seconds.

    My HDD is a Fujitsu 250 gb., Blackbook 2.4 ghz
  11. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    Hope this helps, but when I first got my MBP (first Mac ever), I noticed this clicking sound. It drove me insane trying to figure out what it was, especially reading all the failing HDD threads. This is what I found out. It's the drive head parking. It's part of the safety features built into the HDDs, and Mac OS X parks the head more frequently than other PC laptops apparently. You can try to "fix" this issue using whatever utilities you want to, but be warned that this might cause the head to NOT park when the MacBook is dropped or jerked suddenly, causing actual physical damage to the platter. From my experience, you get used to the noise. Some argue that it causes unnecessary wear on the HDD, but the way I figure by the time the drive needs to be replaced, I'm probably going to be upgrading it for a bigger one anyway.
  12. urmom macrumors newbie

    Oct 9, 2008
    It just started making the noise a few days ago and now does it constantly. Should I be worried there's something wrong?
  13. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    That would depend. How long ago did you purchase your computer? I noticed mine after a few days, but I realize now it was only because up until that point I had never used it in a quiet place. Also, what kind of a clicking noise is it? If it's loud, then that usually signifies hard drive failure. If it's faint and you have to strain to hear it, it's probably the drive heads. I'd check in Disk Utility to see if there are any problems with the drive. If not and you're still concerned, and if there are any Apple Stores nearby, take it in and have them check it out.
  14. doug in albq Suspended

    doug in albq

    Oct 12, 2007
    OK, this issue is a PITA, in my opinion. I tend to use my laptop as a desktop with external monitor, mouse and keyboard. So my only resolution to this issue has been to move my laptop onto a cabinet that is about 4 feet away from me, now I cannot hear the clicks as much. I do not even care if my HDD fails in two years, this is acceptable. What is not acceptable to me is the torture of hearing clicks over and over while I am trying to read something late at night in the quiet house...

    I chose to vent about it in my own blog...
    12.5.08: Does your notebook computer's hard drive (HDD) ever sound like little mice are playing table tennis inside of it? Or, why your HDD is pre-programmed for quick failure.

    [I might start writing a monthly anti-Apple column as a new means to add content to this blog. I have a backlog of personal gripes about Apple of late, and this would be a great palace to vent and rant.]

    My most recent and fresh complaint with Apple has to do with an annoying clicking sound coming from the hard drive (HDD) of my early 2008 Macbook. This is not to be confused with a much louder and constant clicking sound of a soon-to-fail HDD. This is a more subtile, yet annoying click that is most obvious when the computer is not under heavy processing use. I just purchased this product directly from Apple as a refurbished unit. Although the machine is technically a refurb., it is actually completely new, at least the HDD was, as that is easy to check. This "click" sound is yet another example of when a "bug" is actually considered a "feature."

    It turns out that this "clicking" is part of a "power management system" that functions to save energy and, more importantly, generate less heat. For every "click" what is happening is the heads of the HDD are parking, and the disk platters begin to stop spinning. But then the HDD's heads quickly unpark, and then park again, and then unpark, and sometimes this happens every couple of seconds and becomes very annoying. It is most especially annoying when using a notebook computer in a very quiet setting. The click(s) can sound just like a ping pong ball being dropped on a hard surface.

    This problem is most recognizable when one's computer does not have many applications in use, and is sitting in a fairly idle state, like when one is trying to read from a website through a browser, and not doing much else that will tax the CPU and the HDD. It is when the computer is in this state that the HDD manufacturer's (or is it Apple's/*nix's) power management system and the Operating system seem to not get along too well, and then come the click, click, clicks. What is most bizarre to me is that the clicks are somewhat random, at least to my limited knowledge. Sometimes, in what appear to be similar computer-use situations, there will be clicks, and sometimes no clicks.

    This problem actually occurs on all Operating Systems based on Unix/Linux, including the Mac OS. As far as Windows is concerned, many say this problem does not exist, and some say it does. The folks who say that Windows Vista is not plagued with this problem claim it is because the OS accesses the HDD so very often, like every 4 seconds at a minimum, the HDD's aggressive power management scheme never has a chance to kick-in and sleep the HDD and park the heads. Whereas the Mac OS Leopard 10.5 may access, or touch, the HDD every 8 seconds at the least, allowing the HDD's over aggressive power management to sleep the drive (hence park the heads, and make an audible "click") every few seconds. The same seems to apply to open source distros of Linux, however they seem to be on top of a fix. Maybe this is because the average linux user is quite computer-savvy, unlike today's average Mac user.

    This issue is not just about an annoying noise emitting from the HDD, all those clicks might be drastically shortening the life of the HDD. To computer geeks each one of those annoying ping-pong ball sounding clicks is known as a "Load_Cycle_Count" and every HDD manufactured has a limited number of allowable load cycle counts before the HDD fails! My particular drive will fail at around 600,000 load cycle counts. that number may seem high, but considering that the HDD in question is already at 22,731 "clicks" or load cycle counts (this number is easily ascertainable with the use of specific software) in under one month's use, well, do the math. My HDD is pre-programmed to fail in 2 years. Many people have reported a much higher rate of accumulated "clicks" than my HDD has. I have an old external 80 gig firewire HDD that is running strong after 8 years of use!

    The big mystery here is who is to blame? It is either the OS manufacturers, i.e. Apple, Windows, Ubuntu, or we need to look at the manufacturers of the HDD's themselves. I actually think they both are to share the blame.

    There are numerous forum threads running all over the web about this issue. Here are links to some of the best: (there are also many great threads at Apple's support forums, however Apple will not allow me to create a working link to those threads. Bad Apple, bad.)


    Starting to wonder if this will be one of those extremely annoying "bugs" that will never be fixed in 10.5.x, thus forcing us to buy Snow(Job) Leopard? (Pun intended). One of the key OS functons being "improved" upon with Apple's "Snow Leopard" OS 10.6 due to be released next year is "Power Management!" I am starting to think the real fix will be purchasing a still-too-expensive solid state Hard Drive.

    The clicks are annoying as all hell in a quiet room!

    None of the "fixes" to be found on the web seem to work, none!

    1. HDAPM, nope.
    2. declunk, nope.
    3. APM tuner, nope.
    4. Turning off "put hard disk to sleep whenever possible," nope.
    5. disabling the motion sensor, nope.

    this problem has been around a long time!

    None of the various discussions on this issue seem to come up with a workable resolution.

    What the frack, Apple?
  15. acfusion29 macrumors 68040


    Nov 8, 2007
    This happened twice to me. The first time I got so scared because I was working on a huge assignment and it froze in the middle of it. I restarted and got a question mark in a folder so I powered it off removed the battery and it started.

    I opened up Word again and it autosaved before it crashed! Thank god!

    Both times I fixed the issue by removing the battery for 2 seconds.
  16. csupinski macrumors member


    Jul 13, 2008
    Cape Canaveral, Florida
    The noise you are all hearing is normal, the hard drive parks itself when it thinks it's in a free-fall in order to prevent damage to the platters if the heads were make contact.

    The way I look at it, if I drop it, it's probably not going to work anymore anyway so why do I care if the hard drive has a free-fall sensor?

    Look in your System Profiler and you'll see this line at the very bottom of the "Hardware" section. "Sudden Motion Sensor State: Enabled"

    This link will give you more information if you want to disable it.
  17. brop52 macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2007
    So if you disable it does the clicking stop? The thing clicks when the computer is stationary.
  18. 99MustangGTman macrumors 6502

    Dec 3, 2008
    Germantown MD/ Columbus OH
    Mine runs whisper quiet. I only hear the clicking when I flip the screen up.
  19. doug in albq Suspended

    doug in albq

    Oct 12, 2007
    That does not fix anything. It still clicks even if you do that...WAIT A MINUTE, I THINK I STAND CORRECTED! (READ BELOW)

    There may be something to the idea that Leopard's power management and Leopard's "Sudden Motion Sensor" may conflict each other just a bit. I have tonight disabled the Sudden Motion Detector and I seem to be hearing less audible clicks. I was under the impression that I had tried this before and it did not work. However, maybe I was unsuccessful in actually disabling the SMS, or I re-booted and lost the settings without realizing it, or something else I missed. If this fix does work, I suspect it will have to be re-set after any additional re-boots. But that is fine with me as long as the clicks can go away!

    EDIT: (AFTER A FEW HOURS WITH ADJUSTED SETTINGS) It seems that I am still getting some clicks, but not near as many, and not in that rapid-fire, click-every-4-seconds annoying way.

    What seemed to make this fix work for me this time around was effectively disabling the Sudden Motion Sensor and a specific set of energy saver sleep settings. If you want more detailed information on exactly how I easily made my clicks drastically reduce, scroll down to "THE EXACT SPECIFICS: " in the latest entry of my blog.
  20. doug in albq Suspended

    doug in albq

    Oct 12, 2007
    some HDD's "clicks" are quieter than others.
  21. crazyxzer0 macrumors 6502

    Oct 28, 2008
    thanks for the headups. i was wondering what the noise was when I move my laptop from the desk to the bed all the time. :)
  22. meekgeek macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2008
    Samsung Drives

    If you're using any of the recent Samsung hard drives, these drives do give out a loud click now and then which pauses the system for that instant, but doesn't seem to be an indication of any problem. Kinda scary though.
  23. doug in albq Suspended

    doug in albq

    Oct 12, 2007
    I actually think I continue to have issues with this HDD clicking.

    I took another approach to this issue and had a chat with a Fujitsu (my HDD manufacturer) rep. This is part 3 of my most recent blog about all this Hard drive clicking. Here is how it went:

    UPDATE 3: Another new day, today being Tuesday, December 9, and I think my Macbook's hard drive is intermittently clicking again! Noooooooo! I give up. Apple, Fujitsu, fix this for me. The HDD is clicking but maybe not as often, sure, that's right, it is not clicking as often. Anyone who tries the band-aid fix above, please e-mail me, and let me know if you had any amount of success in ridding your notebook of the hard drive clicking.

    While I do think the "fix" outlined in UPDATE 2 had some minimal effect on reducing the overall number of "ping-pong-ball-bounce-esque" clicks emanating from my Macbook I still decided to take this up with Fujitsu, the maker of the 250GB HDD in my Macbook. Dialed up some live chat with a Fujitsu rep., here is how it went (spoiler alert: not so great):

    Please wait while we find an agent to assist you...
    You have been connected to Giancarlo .

    Giancarlo: Welcome to our FCPA live chat service. How may I assist you?

    Doug A: This HDD in question, combined with Apple's Mac os 10.5.5 is a MAD CLICKING thing...........

    Doug A: APM? / firmware tool is needed bad

    Doug A: hitachi makes a tool to help correct this, why not fujitsu?
    Giancarlo: What is the part number of the drive that starts with a CA0

    Doug A: huh?

    Doug A: Capacity: 232.89 GB
    Model: FUJITSU MHY2250BH
    Revision: 0081000D
    Serial Number: K43XXXXXXXXX
    Native Command Queuing: Yes
    Queue Depth: 32
    Removable Media: No
    Detachable Drive: No
    BSD Name: disk0
    Mac OS 9 Drivers: No
    Partition Map Type: GPT (GUID Partition Table)
    S.M.A.R.T. status: Verified

    Giancarlo: Where did you get the drive?

    Doug A: OEM, earily 2008 macbook, Apple

    Giancarlo: Had a feeling just looking at the firmware revision.

    Giancarlo: Any firmware requests would need to go through Apple

    Doug A: so you have nothing for me?

    Giancarlo: I'm sorry I do not. Apple (and other companies) take our drives and flash their firmware on the drive, thus taking ownership of that aspect

    Doug A: Thanks. It's official folks, Fujitsu is passing the buck and not taking ownership on this issue (for my blog).

    Giancarlo has left the session.
    Your agent is experiencing technical difficulties. Please stand by while we re-establish contact or find a new agent...
    You have been connected to Giancarlo .

    Doug A: So, this has nothing to do with an over-aggressive Power Management System that is built into the drive itself?

    Doug A: Are you still here?

    Giancarlo: I'm sorry I have nothing regarding this

    Doug A: How about a manager?

    Doug A: i.e. your supervisor. Are you still with me?

    Giancarlo: I'm looking for one that is available

    Giancarlo: I'm sorry I'm not getting anyone available at the moment but I can do the next thing and send this over to engineering to see if they can go through some channels

    Doug A: my email is xxxx, I would really like some answers to this. Apple does not want to take ownership on this situation that seems to be some sort of conflict between your HDD power management, Apples sudden Motion Sensor, and something? Linux suffers from this same problem, so HDD manufacturers need to take a bit of ownership on this widespread problem. There are forum threads all over the web about the HDD clicks!

    Giancarlo: Okay I'll pass this on to engineering and see what they have to day

    Giancarlo: I mean say

    Giancarlo: Sound like a plan?

    Doug A: I will be waiting for an answer. thank you. If I hear nothing, I'll be back to inquire some more, OK?

    Giancarlo: Very good

    Doug A: document and save this session for further reference, OK

    Giancarlo: It already is

    Your session has ended. You may now close this window.

    OK, Apple, it looks like the ball is in your court...
  24. gcortega macrumors member

    Aug 3, 2007
    Thanks a lot for clearing this up for me, I was driving myself crazy thinking I had gotten a bad HD.
  25. doug in albq Suspended

    doug in albq

    Oct 12, 2007
    I was finally able to successfully install hdapm on my Macbook, and it works all the time now!

    Absolutely no more clicks. I did need to install hdapm a bit different that the standard instruction-set, but it is all working now.

    hdapm is fun to experiment with. With the Terminal you can enter the setting: "hdapm disk0 min" (without the quotes) and listen to your HDD spin down and start back up every few seconds, and every time it does this there is a quiet click and one more "load cycle count" happens. I experimented with this setting only to see if hdamp worked, and to assure myself that the "status-quo" argument that the drive was bad or the clicking and "head parking" being a feature is an incorrect argument for my HDD.

    In the Terminal, simply enter "hdapm disk0 max" (without the quotes) and all the clicks will go away, and you HDD will not be acquiring more "load cycle counts" at a rate setting it for failure in 18-24 months.

    I have rambled-on extensively about this subject in my blog......

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