Hard Drive Idle Sounds


#1

NAS Model: PR4100
Firmware: 2.21.126
Hard Drive Model: WD4002FYYZ-01B7CB0

I recently installed a pair of WD Gold hard drives, which were fully tested prior to installation. The installation (non-spanned JBOD) and data migration were successful, and no serious problems were encountered. However, I began to notice that the drives sounded like they were being accessed when they were idle, so I began a process of elimination to try and isolate the cause.

The sound itself is best described as a sequential repeating pattern of low tics (not clicks) followed by a brief grunt, and an occasional burst of activity sounds. It sounds very much like the sounds a hard drive makes when it is being tested or wiped, as if groups of sectors are being sequentially accessed.

I first thought the sounds may have been a NAS file indexing service, but one of the drives is currently empty. I also eliminated the possibility of network activity by removing both network cables. I even removed each drive and connected them, one at a time, to my desktop computer to see if they made the same sounds, but both drives were very quiet when idle. Just to be sure, I used the WD diagnostics program to perform a short test on each drive, but all active sounds were comparable to normal hard drive sounds.

Both hard drives are working perfectly, having passed all tests, and their S.M.A.R.T. results (RAW_VALUE) are exactly what they should be for brand new drives. In addition, the LOAD_CYCLE_COUNT is not increasing dramatically as one might expect to see if the sounds were caused by head parking activity.

By process of elimination, I can only conclude that the hard drive idle sounds are somehow caused by the NAS, but I do not know how or why. Both drives sleep normally, and the sounds stop until one or both drives wake. None of my WD Black hard drives (WD2003FZEX-00Z4SA0) make similar idle sounds when installed in the NAS. In fact, two of them are installed now.

Have I missed anything? What could be the source of the sounds?

BTW: Please don’t direct me to links about normal hard drive sounds or tell me to contact WD support. I know what hard drives sound like, and WD support is generally very unhelpful.


WD 5 second tick/thud issue
Recurring "clucking sound" every 5 seconds (Western Digital Gold)
#2

Hello,

See if the following link helps

This KB article will help you to identify if the sound is normal or if it’s something to be concern about.

Let’s see if any of the users can share some information as well.


#4

The dashboard doesn’t provide any useful information regarding actual disk drive I/O activity, so I temporarily enabled SSH and used the atop command to see exactly what was going on under the hood. As it turns out, there is no “idle” disk drive activity (0K and 0% across the board) causing the strange sounds.

Whatever is going on, must be at the hardware level, but why are the disk drives noisy in the NAS, and quiet when connected to a desktop computer? I first suspected the sounds could have been caused by wear leveling, but it should happen regardless of where the disk drives are installed.


#5

I strongly believe that my idle noise issue is somehow related to the following:


#6

The sounds described in the following thread are very close to the idle sounds I’ve been hearing.

And the following video has sounds (starting at 0:58 seconds) which are almost identical to what I’ve been hearing (enduring), resembling the sounds a pneumatic hammer might make, albeit very quiet by comparison.

Also, I think I’ve discovered the reason that the idle sounds were not heard while the drives were attached to my desktop computer for testing. They were outside of the case, laying on an anti-static mat, which likely dampened much of the sound. While installed in the NAS, the metal case acts like a resonance chamber (case resonance), thus amplifying the idle sounds. Adhesive sound dampening pads attached to the insides of the metal NAS case may help to reduce the noise. Alternatively, I may simply relocate the NAS to a closet so I can keep what little sanity I have left.

The constant chatter of these drives is really starting to grate on my nerves and I seriously considered returning them, but I learned that the 4TB WD Black drives do it too. Probably because they appear to be rebadged HGST drives, just like the 4TB Golds that I purchased.

Whoever thought it was a good idea for these drives to make so much noise should be tied to a chair in a room with a hundered of them clacking away. Afterwards, I bet the drives would be quickly redesigned to be much more SILENT.


#7

The idle noise was more than I could stand so I decided to remove the WD4002FYYZ drives from the NAS and use them for backups. Both drives passed all tests and no problems are evident, except for the noise, which I believe to be normal for these drives.

Today, WD support finally responded to my inquiry about the idle sounds, 6 full days after I sent it. Despite several back and forth messages, the only thing I got from the exchange was a sudden urge to do a double facepalm with a bourbon chaser. Seriously, they are that bad. IMHO


#8

dswv42, you may want to follow the thread at


and chime in their. It appears that I have gotten 2 different WD Techs that have told me to have my 4TB Gold Drive replaced because of this issue and another user has been told his drives are fine from a level 3 support tech. I am in hopes that we can get enough people discussing this issue that WD will issue a formal statement. The WD tech. I spoke with said he would escalate the issue… I also mentioned the above forum to see the issues we are experiencing.


#9

I’ve seen the thread, as referenced in post #6 but believe the drives will be ok for backup duty because I put them through an extensive battery of grueling tests before deciding to keep them. Besides, I’m past the return window and want nothing to do with WD Support or their RMA process.

WD won’t confirm or deny the cause of the noises, but I suspect it’s some kind of hidden “feature”. Seagate is just as bad, if not worse, probably because the mechanical hard drive market will soon go the way of the dodo, especially after SSD technology matures.

Unfortunately, I’m left with little choice but to look forward to the day when I can buy an affordable high-capacity hard drive that just works, with none of the nonsense I have to deal with today. And the best part is that consumers will no longer be stuck with having just two primary hard drive manufacturers to deal with. There are currently dozens of SSD manufacturers, where competetion is certain to inspire innovation while driving prices down. Goodbye WD, hello future…


Periodic Noise from Head Movement WD Black 4TB
#10

I hear you. I should receive my replacement (New, not recertified) 4TB Gold drive on 4/29 and it will be interesting to see if it does the 5 sec ticks/thumps. I will post back in a few days as to how that turns out.


#11

It was a smart move to insist upon getting a NEW replacement. I’ve read many horror stories about “recertified” hard drives.

It will certainly be interesting to see if the new replacement drive makes the same sounds. Come to think of it, I will soon be doing another backup, where I use an open USB dual-drive docking bay. When the time comes, I will record the idle sounds so we can do a direct comparison, and maybe warn others about what sounds to listen for.


#12

To clarify, my new drive will be from Amazon and not WD since the 4TB Gold started the 5 second thumping within 20 days of use. Since my last post I contacted a group that does hard drive data recovery, provided the link to these posts and asked their opinion. Their reply was exactly what the 2 WD techs have told me, Replace the drive. I also asked if he had any idea of what was going on and his response was “Most likely the drive has some firmware problem or bad sectors in the user area”

Believe me, I hate to go though this as much as the next guy but until we get a definite answer from WD on this, I am not going to trust my data to a drive making this noise. The part that really makes no sense to me is that if this is truly wear leveling, why would it do it every 5 seconds during transferring large data files.


#13

The funny thing is that I tested both drives using some pretty advanced software, including one program which performed a true low-level format to ensure that there were in fact no bad sectors. Well, all hard drives have a bad sector here and there when they are made, which is where the low-level format comes into play, but nothing unusual was found.

I seriously doubt that WD will ever provide any answers, let alone meaningful answers. Likewise, I’m very careful with my data, so the WD Gold 4TB drives are but one of three backup sets which I rotate with each backup iteration. Yep, I’m a little paranoid about backups, having learned my lesson… the hard way.

Based largely on past experiences, my instincts say the drives are fine, and that WD has added some tweaks to the firmware, however secretive they may choose to be about it.

Either way, the truth will eventually emerge, it always does.


#14

This is what the WD Gold model WD4002FYYZ hard drives sound like when they are idle. Listen to it long enough, and the sound will literally drive you insane.

http://s000.tinyupload.com/?file_id=10789378363357452892


#15

Regardless of the strange idle sounds, I have a theory about these hard drives. Personally, I believe they’re all the exact same rebadged HGST Deskstar hard drive, possibly with minor firmware variations. The whole “colors” thing appears to be little more than a marketing scheme to sell hard drives.

  1. Need an enterprise drive, there’s Gold.
  2. Need a performance drive, there’s Black.
  3. Need a NAS drive, there’s Red.
  4. Need a “green” drive… ok “green” was just a fad.
  5. Don’t like a color, there’s more colors to choose from.

It makes perfect sense, especially from a financial standpoint. Colors also have a significant psychological impact on purchase decisions. Slap on a new “color” and it’s a different hard drive. It’s what I would do if I were a hard drive manufacturer.





#16

I could not agree with you more on the colors debacle. Personally, I think
WD learned their advertising from the Auto industry. Think Chev., GMC, Buick, Pontiac etc. Now substitute each of those with all the colors you named:)
I choose the 4TB Gold for the specs. & due to it being about $20 cheaper than the 4TB Black & 4TB Red Pro. I have only had to use WD’s warranty service on a 640GB Black after about 3 years but in all reality I should have had the drive replaced after I initially installed it due to a minor vibration issue. It ran for 3years 24/7 until it developed smart errors. In this instance I could not have been more pleased with the way WD handled the replacement.


#17

4TB WD4002FYYZ
Firmware Version: 01.01M02

New drive arrived with same Firmware as listed above. So far no 5 second seeks or ticks. Time will only tell as it took 20 days for it to show up before.
So far I am only hearing normal head movement sounds like my other drives.

I will post back if this changes as I am now in a new 30 day replacement window if needed.


#18

This changes everything… and suggests that there was a bad batch of these drives shipped to retailers.

The fact that your replacement hard drive is not making the strange idle sounds is all I need to hear. As I suspected, WD Support is full of it, and I will have no part of the WD new for used RMA nonsense. Despite being 15 days past the 30 day return window, I plan to contact the retailer tomorrow to see if they will make an exception and grant an RMA. Otherwise, I will contact my credit card company and request a chargeback.

Just for the record, both of my WD Gold 4TB WD4002FYYZ hard drives also have firmware version 01.01M02.


#19

The 4TB Gold that had the issue was Manufactured in Feb. 2017. The replacement was manufactured in March 2017. Hopefully you can get them replaced through the retailer.


#20

It seems that the retailer where I purchased my problematic drives must have had some old stock, both were manufactured on March 27, 2016. However, the retailer has agreed to RMA both drives for a refund.

Now I have to figure out where to temporarily store 8TB of data, then wipe both drives for security, which will take sevral days to accomplish. Fortunately, the retailer gave me ample time to send them back after I explained.

So known good drives (at least for now) were purchased from Amazon? Too bad their shipping is glacially slow. I have some thinking to do…


#21

After giving it some thought, I decided to order an identical pair of WD Gold 4TB WD4002FYYZ hard drives from Amazon, and considering the urgency of my situation, I also paid a premium for two day shipping.

When I made the decision to purchase WD Gold hard drives, I thought I was buying the best, but look at the result. Regardless, I’m rolling the dice one last time, but mark my words… If the new drives fail any tests or exhibit any strange noises, I will send them back faster than you can say “refund”.

Let this be a warning to everyone. If your new hard drives make any strange noises…

SEND THEM BACK IMMEDIATELY!!!

BTW: There have been reports of voided or out of region warranties on brand new hard drives, so one should always verify the warranty status of a new hard drive before putting it into service.