Hard Drive Idle Sounds


While researching the matter further, I came across the following article from here.

[quote]WD spokesman Paul Wooding said:

We have identified a small, isolated population of HGST Ultrastar disk drives demonstrating higher than expected failure rates when used in specific situations and use cases.

WD added: “While the Ultrastar product is meeting our expected field performance overall, we are addressing this specific issue, and working with applicable customers to identify and replace potentially affected drives. Western Digital is focused on delivering high quality products and supporting the needs of our customers.”[/quote]

Previously, I speculated that WD Gold hard drives appeared to be rebadged HGST Deskstar drives, which happen to be virtually identical to HGST Ultrastar drives.

The article mentions “higher than expected failure rates” but does not mention any specifics. This is far to vague to be meaningful, but the fact that a public statement was made about failing drives is pretty significant by itself.

Since a number of rebadged HGST drives have shown unusual symptoms, namely the aforementioned strange idle sounds, it stands to reason that there is much more to this story than meets the eye. Who are “applicable customers”? What is an “isolated population”? For that matter, what was wrong with the drives?

Something definitely smells fishy. In other words… Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.


Sure would be nice if they would give details about the issue such as serial numbers of affected drives. NAW, that makes too much sense.

Anyway glad you were able to get new drives on the way. So far mine has been much quieter. Of course now I’m paranoid about ANY sound the drive makes and start the timer going when I hear any noise from it:) Head access and movement appears to be a little sharper/firmer noise than what I am used to on the Blacks but both 4TB Gold’s seem to be the same in that respect. Drive speed is as expected per the spec’s and if it continues running like this I will be happy.
BTW, Do you have a link to the post by WD spokesman Paul Wooding ?


It’s linked above, but here’s the full URL.


Thanks, I just emailed Paul. Hopefully he will respond to my email.


Reality is definitely stranger than fiction.

The data transfer from one of the problematic WD Gold 4TB WD4002FYYZ hard drives had completed, so I fired up my old secondary desktop computer to use DBAN to wipe the drive, and wouldn’t you know it… the desktop computer’s Western Digital 250GB hard drive suffered the infamous click of death.

Oh well, at least it doesn’t stop me from booting from USB so I can proceed with wiping the problematic 4TB hard drives. All of my spare hard drives are currently full of data because of the problematic WD Gold 4TB WD4002FYYZ hard drives, so I guess I’ll have to wait before reimaging a replacement hard drive for the secondary computer.

Either I’ve got really bad luck with hard drives, or I’ve been buying the wrong brand. Seriously, I’m sick of moving terabytes of data, only to discover that I have to do it again, and again… Will this hard drive shell game ever end? Perhaps it’s time to finally try something different.

BTW: I briefly considered buying another WD Black 2TB WD2003FZEX hard drive to replace the desktop computer’s failed 250GB hard drive, except that the last one I bought a couple of months ago made strange spindown noises, which sounded like a dying animal. It ultimately resulted in a refund from the retailer because the replacement RMA hard drive did it too.


I saw where Paul read the email but he has not replied. Is your replacement 4TB Gold ok so far? Yes, it is kind of like someone lost the formula for makng good drives. Believe me I have seen that happen in the manufacturing environment. One day things are perfect and the next day you could not make it right if you tried to. I can’t even imagine how horrible it has to be now with the parts quality that we are seeing. Oh, and it never helps when the vendor decides to change their process for manufacturing a part for you and doesn’t bother to tell you they changed the process… Hope they found the formula again:)


I doubt that anyone from WD will provide answers. If they did, it could result in a rash of complaints and RMA hard drives. Thus, it could hurt their bottom line.

My replacement WD Gold 4TB WD4002FYYZ hard drives literally arrived 30 minutes ago, so I haven’t had time to properly test them. However, I did briefly power on each drive using my USB drive dock to check the S.M.A.R.T. stats and see if there were any strange sounds. Overall, these drives definitely sound very different than the drives they are replacing. Unlike the previous drives, these emit a nearly constant, but very faint, “hammering” sound. Since they are datacenter hard drives, this is the sound I expected to hear, which is likely caused by internal preventive wear leveling. Also, the S.M.A.R.T. stats looked fine, at least for now.

Unlike the previous drives, which were manufactured on March 27, 2016, the new hard drives were manufactured on March 3, 2017. In addition, I noticed something which may help people identify potentially bad drives. The colored portion of the label on the “old” hard drives is bright yellow, while the colored portion of the label on the “new” hard drives is gold… as it should be. It suppose it’s fitting because yellow also happens to be the color of a lemon, which is an apt description for the “old” hard drives.

I plan to put both hard drives through extensive testing before calling them good, but I’m much more confident than I was at this point in time with the previous hard drives.


What type of sound is this and when does it occur? Does it make the noise constantly?


It’s really hard to describe, and “hammering” was the only term that seemed to fit, but it is constant. The sound is not present when data is being written to the drive, only when it’s idle. Again, the sound is very faint, but audible.


I think I know the noise you are talking about. I heard it on mine when I had it on my table testing the drive after install. If it is a constant pulsing sound like you sometimes hear from an electric motor that is what I heard on mine too. It is very, very faint.

For your ref.
My original WD Gold 4TB WD4002FYYZ Manf. Date was Feb 21, 2017 and it has the Gold Label.
My replacement WD Gold 4TB WD4002FYYZ Manf. Date was Mar 02, 2017 and it has the Gold Label.

As you said the replacement has a totally different sound. Much Quieter:)

So Far!!!


dswv42, I will be contacting WD in the morning concerning the NEW 4TB Gold drive. I have now noticed on 3 separate occasions where the HD activity light will come on and stay on when there is no access to the hard drive. This has only started happening with this new drive installed and never happened with the original noisy 4TB drive. The HD activity light can only be cleared by a reboot.


So far I haven’t had any major problems, other than the constant idle noise being a bit of a nuisance, however subtle it may be. I only use these drives in an external USB drive dock for backups, so I’m not likely to notice if there are any strange activity light issues, which would not surprise me. Regardless, there’s no way I’d use any WD rebadged HGST drives in my NAS or a computer enclosure due to the excessive and unnecessary noise and general long-term reliability concerns.

Good luck with getting any meaningful answers from WD support. They like to use the phrase “Premium support Dedicated 24x7 over the phone support is included with every WD Gold hard drive.” as a sales pitch, but the only thing premium about these hard drives is the price. Contrary to the sales pitch, the reality I’ve personally experienced is that WD support is little more than a bunch of inexperienced buffoons who seem to lack any common sense.

As a direct result of numerous problems and moronic support, I’ve been seriously looking at alternatives to Western Digital, who I’ve grown to despise.


I spoke with a tech. last night and he has escalated it to a level 2 tech. which is supposed to call today. My problem is I don’t need them to tell me I need to replace the drive because it is the only thing that was changed and I have never had this issue prior to putting the new drive in. My question is has the quality of their drives gone down this much or do they have bugs in the GOLD series. I am getting to the point of putting one of my new old stock 1TB Blacks in the case and change my storage strategy. It is an absolute pain to change the drive out in my desktop due to the physical location of the computer.

BTW, which brand & model have you been considering. That may be my next move too.

Also, which external case (Brand & Model) are you using that supports the 4TB drives?
5/11 11:00am EST
Well, I just called and they said it may be a power issue and wanted me to try drive in another computer. Told them in effect I had already done that by using another 4TB Gold in this computer and it did not have the issue and if it was a power issue it was the fault of the drive, not the computer. They recommended REPLACING the drive again and possibly going with a 4TB Black instead.

As I said in an earlier email it sure looks like WD has lost the formula on making good HD’s. I have never experienced this many issues on NEW hard drives.

5/11 16:00pm EST 4TB Gold has started making all kinds of sounds, 5 sec, hammering, tic tic tic, all this while sitting idle. Power on time is approx. 7.5 days. I would recommend leaving the drives up 24/7 until you get at least this much time on them.


Correction… I just checked the raw value for the S.M.A.R.T. attributes for each drive, and one of the drives is already showing errors, despite extremely light use. I think this is the last straw, and since I’m within the return window, I may send these drives back, but want to test them using a direct SATA connection first. All things considered, I think I’m done with Western Digital, who has clearly lost the recipe for making reliable hard drives. At the very least, I will NEVER buy another WD rebadged HGST (Gold / Black / Red / etc) hard drive again… reliability indeed.

With regard to internal hard drives, I’m considering many brands and models, but Seagate hard drives are currently the most likely candidates, pending further research.

I use an ORICO Dual Bay SATA to USB3.0 External Hard Drive Docking Station with Duplicator/Clone Function, model 6629US3-C-BK.


Thanks for the info… Sorry to hear of the errors, but at this point I am not surprised. Amazon is replacing this 4TB Gold but if the replacement turns out to be bad, I’m done too. I was considering a 2TB Black but saw your earlier post that they have been pathetic also.

Very hard to believe out of 13 Blacks I have only had one go bad after several years of 24/7 use and out of 2 4TB Golds all of mine have been defective within 20 days and so far it appears that yours have been too.


It’s funny that you mentioned the 2TB WD Black, because I’m thinking about ordering a single WD2003FZEX hard drive from Amazon to see if my previous experience with strange spindown noises was due to a bad batch of hard drives from another vendor, or the result of WD and their apparent downhill slide. I currently need to replace a failed internal hard drive in my older desktop computer, so it may be worth the risk to satisfy my own curiosity.

The WD4003FZEX is the 4TB variant of the WD2003FZEX hard drive, but sadly this hard drive model seems to have been discontinued by WD in favor of the rebadged HGST nonsense, making it the domain of third party resellers, who have jacked the price into the stratosphere. This is a no-go because I’ve learned to never buy hard drives from fly-by-night merchants, who are often little more than scammers looking for a quick buck.

As for alternate 4TB hard drive manufacturers/models, I’m currently undecided… Maybe this would be a good time to order a single Seagate 6 TB Ironwolf 7200RPM hard drive, which is priced roughly the same as the problematic WD 4TB hard drives. Alternatively, I’ve also been looking closely at “REAL” Toshiba hard drives. In both cases, the reviews seem questionable at first glance, but I’ve begun to wonder about the validity of online reviews, especially in light of my recent string of bad experiences with WD hard drives, which got generally positive reviews.

Regardless, any new hard drive will be tested using the most punishing methods I know of… I would use DBAN to perform a 3 pass DoD Short drive wipe, which is a lengthy disk intensive process that writes to every sector of a hard drive several times. This would be followed by installation in my primary desktop computer, which is guaranteed to give any hard drive a good extended thrashing because I do a lot of disk intensive tasks.


Please keep me in the loop on the 2TB. I really would like to have the 4TB drive but this is going to be my final attempt at getting a good one. If you end up with a good 2TB drive I may go that route since it would be better than putting a 1TB drive in and having to change my backup method.

Just looked at DBAN, does it require install or will it run from the created .iso?


I use a program called Rufus to create a bootable USB stick using the DBAN ISO file. It’s also a good idea to disconnect all hard drives except for the one being wiped because it’s easy to select the wrong drive.



Thanks for the link and info. You may want to check out the reviews on Newegg about the 2TB Black which pretty much confirmed your original issue. 3/21/17 Joel S. wrote “Other Thoughts: -It seems to make a strange noise what seems like an animal dying when I power down the PC, I looked it up on google and have seen MANY people say they have the same noise (I even listened to the recordings and it sounds exactly the same.) The HDD passes all tests with flying colors so I am not terribly concerned about it.”

I am very aggravated by these issues that we are experiencing with the recent WD products. The fact that we cannot get a straight answer is pathetic on WD’s part. I would rather know they are experiencing issues and let them work out the problems prior to changing out hard drives every two to three weeks in hopes of getting a good one.

My 2nd Gold 4TB has starting making so much noise now that I can’t wait for it to power down. I was considering canceling the replacement (Currently not Avail. until 5/16) and getting the 2TB Black until I read the Newegg reviews. Hopefully if your new 2TB Black is ok, I will just opt to try one and be done with the 4TB Gold’s.

If your new 2TB Black is bad, I am sticking one of my 1TB Blacks in my system and be done with this nightmare!!


I saw the Newegg reviews, which also happens to be where I purchased and returned two defective WD2003FZEX 2TB hard drives. Try as I might, I’m having trouble talking myself into purchasing another WD2003FZEX 2TB hard drive, even from Amazon, simply because it’s made by Western Digital. Based on recent experiences, any WD hard drive purchase may result in a return, and while Amazon does have a generous return policy, it’s not without limits. Too many returns, and Amazon may close an account without warning, so I don’t abuse it.

I feel the same way, and the days of WD being a company I trust are long gone. I should have listened to my better judgement back when I lost all my data due to the secret hard drive encryption used by WD in their MyBook external hard drive enclosures.

From what I’ve read, Seagate and Toshiba aren’t any better, but their hard drives are much cheaper than Western Digital, and a simple change in backup strategy would mitigate any increased risk of hard drive failure. In fact, this is where I’m at now… I’m thinking that two 6TB hard drives would easily accomodate my storage needs, with two complete backup sets standing by to save the day if needed.

Regardless, any hard drive manufacturer warranty is pretty much worthless, unless one enjoys getting used and possibly defective RMA hard drives.

Your observations peaked my curiosity, and since there’s ample time left in my return window, I’ve decided to wait a few days so I can see exactly how the WD Gold hard drives perform over time by leaving them continuously connected and operating. Oddly enough, I’m also beginning to notice a change in the idle sounds. What was once a continuous idle sound, has become much more intermittent, resembling the sounds the previous hard drives made. It’s almost as if the firmware was altered to slowly phase into another mode of operation. Perhaps it’s just a “feature”, but something seems really fishy, especially when coupled with the fact that WD has remained silent about the issue.