Hard drives are usually nearly silent but some do make a muted clicking sound when they're being accessed - this is normal.
On the other hand, if you start hearing noises only occasionally or noises that you've never heard before - like clicking, grinding or squealing - your hard drive may be failing.
The steps below will help you determine what to do next before all of your precious data is gone for good.
Run free hard drive diagnostic software, already available on many PCs or available on the Internet. Additionally, more advanced diagnostic software is available for a cost from third party software developers.
Note: At best, diagnostic software will only mark the areas of the hard drive that are failing as "bad" and prevent the computer from using them in the future. It will not truly fix a hard drive that is physically failing.
If any corrections made by the diagnostics software do not temporarily resolve the hard drive noise, do a complete backup of your system and replace the hard drive immediately.
If the diagnostics software helps resolve the clicking, grinding or squealing noises keep in mind that this is only a temporary solution. Chances are, the hard drive will continue to fail until it is completely unusable.
The permanent solution is to do a complete backup of your system and replace the hard drive as soon as possible.
Since there is no good way to repair a failing hard drive, protecting your data by performing regular backups is essential.
With an up-to-date backup, recovering from a hard drive failure is as simple as installing a new drive and restoring your data.