disc click at 1 second intervals - a long-term mystery

Discussion in 'DIY Computers' started by dave, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. dave

    dave Guest

    Every since I installed XP (a few years ago) on a new build PC, there
    has been regular 1 second click of the disc actuator. It is there with
    any disc I clone into that PC. I thought to give this another try ask
    for ideas as to what the heck is causing it.

    I see from google there are many such "clickers" out there. The main
    focus comes down to things like these:(all unsuccessful):-

    -CD/DVD optical drive being polled
    Registry entries changed to try prevent it.

    -CD/DVD optical drive autoplay
    This turns out to be a biiger topic than I expected. Anyway several
    registry entries changed to prevent it without success. Even discon.
    the CD disn't stop it.

    -Faulty harware (not in this case. Extensive test/replace still gets
    the clicking)

    -Some kind of disc self-test (not in this case as it is a dual boot PC
    and when booted into somethig called MS-DOS :)-)) there is *no*
    clicking. So it looks like something XP specific.

    -The OS running file indexing. (This has been turned off on all

    Here is an excitng .mp3 soundtrack of the Cklick-a-tron in action

    If you have a suggestion for a possible route to a resolution I would
    appreciate it as sometimes that noise is really annoying!
    dave, Apr 17, 2012
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  2. dave

    JohnR Guest

    Not a clue tbh, could it be related to your I/O controller and / or XP
    JohnR, Apr 17, 2012
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  3. Does it do it at the BIOS screen? That would implicate the disk

    Have you tried a Linux LiveCD? If it doesn't do it there, then that
    suggests Windows driver or other software issues.

    How about a fresh Windows install (use a spare HD), without the usual
    load of AV and whatnot on?

    Cheers - Jaimie
    Jaimie Vandenbergh, Apr 17, 2012
  4. dave

    dave Guest

    Well quite! :) It's quote a common problem though - many hits on
    google and forums.

    The drive is a Seagate barracuda 850Gb (ish) sata drive. I've tried
    other sata drives in there and they all do the same. The sound is not
    really as loud as the recording as I placed the mic on the surface of
    the disc to make it clear what was happening. It is though, pretty

    I'll discon the floppy and reboot to see if that is (in some way) the
    dave, Apr 17, 2012
  5. I agree with Jaimie on a fresh install.

    If you have another hard drive I would suggest that you try the following.

    1. Download and burn a CD copy of Darik's Boot And Nuke freeware program
    commonly called DBAN. You can locate it at: http://www.dban.org/

    Once you download the image copy of the DBAN program you will need to
    burn it to a blank CD. Just do not boot the CD you make until you
    actually want to erase a hard drive.

    2. Once you have the DBAN CD created you will need to unplug the
    interface and power cable(s) from any hard drive(s) in your computer
    that you do not want to erase. DBAN was created to totally erase ANY
    hard drive it locates as a means of removing any possible malware that
    might be hiding on the hard drive(s) boot sectors and other places.

    3. Plug in a spare hard drive that you do not mind totally erasing, this
    means all partitions or any other things presently on that hard drive
    will be gone, forever.

    4. Do a power reset and start the DBAN CD. Follow the menu to start it
    erasing the hard drive. I forget the menu item but pick the one that is
    the quick erase as you are just trying to blank the drive, not hide
    stuff from the government.

    5. Once the drive has been Erased by the DBAN program you can remove the
    CD and reboot the computer using the XP install CD. Install XP to the
    freshly erased hard drive and then see if the computer no longer has the
    1 second ticking sound. If it's gone then your other hard drive's
    installation has picked up something that is causing the sound. Virus,
    wrong or bad drivers, it's anyone's guess at this time.

    If the click is gone then it's time to consider cloning your original
    drive, for safety's sake, and trying a Repair install from the XP cd on
    it and see if it flushes out the problem. If not then I'd consider
    transferring your data files over to the new drive and going on from
    there. If you plan to migrate over to the new install I would wait
    until you install all the Microsoft updates just to make sure one of
    them is not the culprit.
    One other thing to consider trying that might be much faster is to
    download and burn a copy of a Live Linux CD. If your computer boots
    that CD and the hard drive does not click like it has been then the
    problem is most definitely software related.

    One that I like to use for tests of this type is Puppy Linux. The ISO
    file you download is about 133MB. You can locate it at:
    http://puppylinux.org/main/Download Latest Release.htm

    The good thing is that you don't need to know anything about Linux to
    boot the CD and see if the clicking is gone. Just do not click on the
    Install Icon and the CD runs all in RAM memory and does not touch your
    hard drive.

    Good hunting...
    GlowingBlueMist, Apr 17, 2012
  6. It's not the floppy is it? My PC started accessing the (empty) floppy
    drive at regular intervals for no apparent reason. I wasn't able to
    figure out what was causing it, and the regular graunching sounds were
    pissing me off, so I just disabled it in Device Mangler.
    Mike Tomlinson, Apr 17, 2012
  7. Generally it's some program which had a file on the floppy drive open
    at some point, and it's still in the 'most recently used' list for it.
    This can include Explorer...

    Do a registry search for A:\ and see what pops up. MRU entries can be
    simply deleted if you find one you don't want, you don't have to tidy
    up the ordering key as well.

    Cheers - Jaimie
    Jaimie Vandenbergh, Apr 17, 2012
  8. dave

    dave Guest

    Thanks for help but no-fix yet.

    I found 1 x A:\ key in registry and removed it.

    Disconnected the floppy pwr and data cables

    Disabled the floopy in the BIOS

    Noted that the clicking does *not* start at the dual o/s boot screen,
    but *does* start as soon as the login screen a appears (before actual
    logion though).

    Other things in the past I just recall trying was to slectively stop
    drivers - until I either crashed the machine or ran out of drivers!

    I even swapped mobos - changed asus to foxconn (which is there now)
    but Clicking is there with both boards.

    This is a tough one!
    dave, Apr 17, 2012
  9. dave

    dave Guest

    Sorry about all the typos - I blame it on the clicking disc.
    dave, Apr 17, 2012
  10. dave

    Bill Guest

    Have you tried running SysInternals Process Monitor and seeing if
    anything obvious shows upon that?
    Bill, Apr 17, 2012
  11. dave

    dave Guest

    Yes tried that Bill. The event is so fleeting though is difficult to
    see anything as positive id.
    dave, Apr 17, 2012
  12. :) Sorry that wasn't any help, I've fixed my own clicky floppy drive before that way.

    Cheers - Jaimie
    Jaimie Vandenbergh, Apr 17, 2012
  13. dave

    dave Guest

    I add this info now in case anyone is still following or has this
    problem, to save repeating stuff.

    I just used msconfig to stop *all* startup programs. The clicking is
    still there both prior to and after login. At least that eliminates
    going through a few dozen application (in this case) as they are not
    the problem.

    I wonder if there is something in the bios that is used by XP but not
    by MS-DOS.
    usb seems a good one to start with.
    dave, Apr 17, 2012
  14. dave

    Johny B Good Guest

    What is the other OS and, does that trigger the clicking?
    I note you mentioned that this applies to clones of this disk which
    suggests you must have a disk or two going spare to allow you the
    luxury of a scratch install sans the dual boot.

    The symptoms rather suggest a borked rootkit trying to access non
    existent encrypted sectors in space marked as unavailable to windows,
    possibly beyond the LBA range of the drive itself (hence the clunking
    sound - but this could simply be due to the way you recorded it,
    exagerating the bass at the expense of the treble frequencies turning
    a seek click sound into the clunk you actually recorded).

    Rootkit, like all the wanted stuff, will also transfer to the
    replacement drive which might account for the replication of the
    symptoms across different drives. A scratch install on a wiped disk
    drive should give you a definitive answer.
    Johny B Good, Apr 17, 2012
  15. dave

    Bill Guest

    Xperf and logman (both Microsoft) are very useful for looking at USB and
    other events as they happen.
    I wish I had more time to understand all the possibilities they seem
    capable of.

    I have run the various xperf functions from batch files, which makes the
    whole thing more controllable.
    Bill, Apr 17, 2012
  16. Did all that, and used Process Explorer's "Search Handle or DLL" for A:
    with no success. Eventually decided life was too short and disabled the
    bloody thing in Dev Mangler.
    Mike Tomlinson, Apr 17, 2012
  17. dave

    Gordon Guest

    As a suggestion, get a live Linux CD and boot from that. That will remove XP
    as a possible cause.
    Gordon, Apr 18, 2012
  18. dave

    Gordon Guest

    So you have changed MB and HD? This leaves the RAM and video card if any in
    the hardware side of things. How about another power supply while you are at

    You need to Vulcan about this, logic needs to be applied in large doses and
    rule nothing out, or rather think what out of left fiel things to include,
    and then rule out.
    Gordon, Apr 18, 2012
  19. dave

    dave Guest

    PSU changed too. But this very same nachine does *not* have disc click
    if I boot it into MS-DOS. So looks like s/ware in XP.
    dave, Apr 18, 2012
  20. dave

    dave Guest

    I have tried removing the disc and replacing with one that has ubuntu
    islattled on it. No clicking on that disc (Same make and model disc as
    the clicker disc).

    I have aslo cloned the clicker disc onto another - and booted it - it

    afai can see all point to something in XP sp3. This has many
    applications on it so an u/g to W7 would be a very big task.
    dave, Apr 18, 2012
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