new MBP harddrive clicking sound?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by rikaro, Dec 5, 2008.

  1. rikaro macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2008
    Hi guys I have owned my new macbook pro for a month now. Recently I have been hearing clicking sounds from my HD whenever I move it a little. Is this normal?
  2. SchneiderMan macrumors G3


    May 25, 2008
    is it clicking when you dont move it also? mine is and its the second one too
  3. EvryDayImShufln macrumors 65816


    Sep 18, 2006
    Same with me, mine are actually quite loud, are yours too? Usually when I move the laptop suddenly, although not with very much speed or anything. I don't really understand why it happens.
  4. doug in albq Suspended

    doug in albq

    Oct 12, 2007
    Now you know:

    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?
    UPDATE 2: A potential fix!

    "Originally Posted by csupinski View Post
    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."

    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.

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