Sept. 10, 2011, 1:42 p.m.

Real Life Troubleshooting

About 4 days ago I started hearing the dreaded click of death on my one Windows computer. Problem is, I have two RAID arrays - one RAID1 with two drives and one RAID5 with four drives. Then also a standalone OS drive.

So I installed SMART monitoring software - which told me my OS drive is OK. I was about to reboot to check the Adaptec RAID BIOS for the other disks when I decided to try and find the problematic HDD by ear. I have a fan blowing on my machine as the heat levels are just insane. So I stopped the fan to listen carefully, but the noise went away. Took me 5 minutes to confirm that with the fan on, the click of death is present and with it off the click of death was absent.

Weird… This is an external fan. How can it influence a failing hard drive?

So I looked over the machine, to the other side… And lo and behold, there is the USB plug from my USB drive that hangs down alongside the full tower, and the wind is causing it to oscillate at exactly the frequency that a hard drive would click at when failing, and each time hitting the metal foot of the case. So perfect was the sound that I believed for 3 days straight that one drive was failing…

The solution? Move the USB plug away :)

I post this because it illustrates problem solving by the process of elimination. Works well in real life too, though I usually have to apply it to computer problems.