[SOLVED] Intermittent HDD Stall/Noise Which Can Be Fixed By Win10 Reinstall

Aug 18, 2019
I have a Windows 10 Home desktop with a SSD containing my Win10 installation and an internal HDD which I use for applications/storage.

About a year ago, my HDD (Toshiba) started making noises and stalling. The behavior is that the drive will make a buzz as if the disk was spinning up, run for a while, and then make a loud pop/click after about 30 seconds or so (the interval duration was not consistent). Often any active application running on the disk at the time would stall during the initial buzz. At the time, I formatted and restored the data on the HDD, but that did not help. Finally, I just did a complete reinstall of Windows 10 on my SSD (while leaving the HDD untouched), and the HDD behaved properly for about a year after that. However, within the past few weeks this problem popped up again. Thinking it may just be a problem with the HDD, I went out and bought a new HDD (Seagate) to replace the existing one, and after cloning the old disk to the new one I found that the new HDD is behaving similarly. (The new drive isn't as noisy as the other one, but it still makes some buzzing noises which are accompanied by stalling.) I am not experiencing any restarts or BSODs - just noise accompanied with stalling.

I have tried to the following in order to resolve this issue:

1. Set the power profile to High Performance and change "Turn Hard Disk Off After" from 20 minutes to 0 minutes. (Which I understand should disable this feature entirely.) Didn't help.

2. Run chkdsk to look for errors. There weren't any.

3. Check the HDD temperature. It was good.

4. Check for HDD driver updates. Didn't find any for either the old or the new HDD.

5. Try to disable Advanced Power Management for the HDD. It was off (unsupported?) on the first (Toshiba) drive. I disabled it on the second (Seagate) one, but it seemed to re-enable itself (?!?!) after I turned it off using CrystalDiskInfo.

6. Look at the SMART stats for the drive to see if there is anything that grabs my attention. Didn't see anything notable (to me at least).

7. Check for rogue processes that may be intermittently accessing the disk. Didn't find anything significant.

8. Run tests using Hard Disk Sentinel, Dell diagnostics, HD Tune, and SeaTools. All tests passed with 100% success.

9. Delete the device in the Device Manager and reboot. Did not help.

10. Reboot to Safe Mode. While in Safe Mode the noise is far less frequent (once every 10 minutes instead of 2-4 times per minute) but not completely gone.

11. As mentioned above, reinstalling Windows 10 on my SSD resolved the issue last time. I would like to avoid having to do that again.

Given that a Windows reinstall fixed the issue last time, I think that this is a Windows problem of some sort. It sort of seems like it may be related to power management or driver settings. Another thing to note is that this is a Dell prebuilt computer, and I would not rule out the possibility that the pre-installed Dell SupportAssist application could have "optimized" some Windows settings for me. (I have uninstalled SupportAssist at this point.) In addition, I have noticed that the second louder HDD noise is the same noise that I hear the HDD make when the computer powers off. This makes me think that the noise is maybe the sound of the HDD head parking so I am wondering if there are any Windows settings/services that modify the frequency at which the head is parked. (Like an energy efficiency service/setting or something?) However, I do not know what HDD settings I would need to tweak. Anyone have any suggestions on other things that I can try?

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Does it work

Jun 3, 2017
Download seatools and run diagnostics on the drive, should get an idea of how its going, it does sound like its dying or some other interference, make sure there are no magnets nearby also, a strong enough magnet could misalign the pin and cause dodgy sounds. It's very doubtful to be a windows issue unless there is some sort of malicious code attempting to stop-start your drives
Aug 18, 2019
Both drives make similar sounds. Like I said before, I did a complete Windows reinstall on the SSD the first time that this happened with the Toshiba drive, and it stopped making the noise/stalling. (I'm trying to avoid having to do another Windows reinstall.) When it started doing this again about a year after the reinstall, I thought that it was going bad so I decided to just replace it. I was really surprised when the replacement drive experienced the same issue.

The original Toshiba drive was only 6 months old when it started this. The Seagate drive that I replaced it with is brand new.
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