Protect Your Photos by Learning the Sounds of a Failing Hard Drive

External hard drives are a convenient way to store your digital photographs, but they have finite lifetimes and eventually fail. Failing drives have a number of distinctive sounds that can warn you and give you some time to start a data-exodus to a healthier hard drive. Datacent, a data recovery company, has a useful page on which you can listen to some of the most common “bad drive sounds”. These are categorized by manufacturer, and include things like stuck spindles, disk heads crashing, accessing bad sectors, and bad bearings. If your drive makes any of these sounds while your photographs are still accessible, begin evasive maneuversimmediately!

Hard drive sounds (via Boing Boing)

Image credit: Drive Destruction 11 by Nedster78

  • Zak Henry

    Haha I was thinking “what a great site, I’ll listen to all the sounds my HD could make” then realised I don’t have a hard drive. Oops

  • Jan

    O better yet…. make backups!

  • Anonymous

    That’s all well and good, but in many cases, by the time you get an audible indicator, you might already be pooched, so don’t rely on this knowledge as a cue to start saving files. Set up a backup routine and schedule it so your computer does it routinely. After first backup, and occasionally afterward, check to make sure the backup is actually working.

  • Anonymous

    You gotta make backups ASAP. Or else you will lose your data. Try a free account at or make your own choice using this review; Safecopy has done me more good than harm by protecting my data and they are cost effective.

  • Zak Henry

    What I mean was I have an internal flash drive, not a spinning disk drive. Hence why listening to it would be pointless.

  • Alexander

    Don’t rely on external Harddisk only. Burn photos or data to DVD or Bluray, upload them to Flickr (private if you like) and/or another online storage.