My Hard Drive Has Started Making Noise. What's Happening?
It is never a good sign when hard disks start to make notice. It means that your drive is starting to fail. Although there are variations, most drives are completely silent when they're running.
The tipoff is either a new noise are an intermittent noise. If the drive has always made a slight clicking noise when accessing data, that's probably nothing to worry about. If it just started clicking, or if it only clicks occasionally, this means something has changed. Change in a hard drive is a Bad Thing.
Grinding or squealing noise is definitely a bad sign and usually means the drive is on its last legs.
There are two ways to protect yourself against a failing drive; the first is to create a backup image of the disk and the other is to move all everything from the failing disk to a replacement drive. Also, make sure you have an up-to-date rescue disk so you can boot your computer even with a failed primary hard drive (the one with the operating system on it).
Creating an image won't stop the disk from failing, but it will give you a starting point from a known, good configuration if the disk fails. Cloning the disk to a new drive not only moves everything off the damaged drive, but it moves it in total so that you can start working on the new drive immediately.
If you suspect a drive is going flaky, it is relatively easy to cone your disk. Please see Drive to drive: Bring in the Clones for step-by-step instructions on duplicating your disk.
Using your image file, you can also deploy a new drive by restoring that image onto the new drive. Acronis True Image provides necessary tools to create and deploy a new drive.
The good news about discovering a potential hard drive failure today is that hard drives are inexpensive these days and installing a new one is easy. Many retailers and web sites sell high-capacity hard drives, up to 200 Gb, for $100 or less. If your drive shows signs of failing, replace it immediately, your data is far more important than the price of the disk drive.