Clicking Hard Drive Data Recovery

Clicking is one of the most recognizable signs of hard drive failure. When your hard drive functions normally, it makes a few sounds here and there, and might make a click when powering up. The gentle whirring of its platters, with the occasional mechanical gurgle, is your hard drive’s way of letting you know it works. But when your hard drive decides to do its best imitation of a clock, with its rhythmic tick-tock, you could have a serious data loss situation on your hands. When you need data recovered from a clicking hard drive, the computer data recovery professionals at Gillware Data Recovery have your back. We can recover your data for you in our secure, world-class data recovery lab and get your critical files safely back in your hands.


To understand why your hard drive is making the clicking noise, you need to understand what goes on inside your hard drive:

Why Is Your Hard Drive Clicking?

Every file you create on the drive lives on a stack of hard disk platters. These disks are only vaguely similar to the CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Ray disks you’re accustomed to seeing. Instead of the data being encoded by pits and gaps which stand for 1s and 0s, the magnetic field on small portions of the disks defines what is a 1 and what is a 0. Manufacturers can cram over a terabyte of data into a single platter. Like how an optical drive uses lasers to read the data off of a CD, your hard disk drive has a set of read/write heads that use electrical signals to detect and alter the magnetic fields on these platters.

Hard drives will have as many read/write heads as there are platter surfaces with data on them. For example, if you have a hard drive with three platters and it uses both sides of two of them and one side of the third, the drive will have five read/write heads. The heads, like the platters, are stacked together. When you turn your hard drive on, the head stack swings over the platters, finds the drive’s firmware zone, and begins reading and writing sectors, sweeping back and forth across the radii of the platters.

When read/write heads fail, but can still move freely, the hard drive will position them over the platters when you power on the drive. Because the heads have gone blind, they can’t read the firmware sectors. But the drive will keep searching for them, regardless of the heads’ condition. The heads will sweep from the edge of the platters to the center and back again without finding anything, parking back on their guiding ramp with an audible click before trying again. This produces the repetitive “click of death”.

How Read/Write Heads Fail

A clicking hard drive can damage itself further if handled improperly before sending it to a professional data recovery lab
Improperly handling a clicking hard drive before sending it to a professional data recovery lab can cause platter scratches and rotational scoring.

Read/write heads work harder than any other part of the hard drive. While read/write speeds vary depending on many factors, such as where the data lives on the platters and the size of the files in question, a hard drive can read or write up to 1.5 gigabits of data per second over a SATA I connection. That’s over one billion bits in a single second.

Even looking at read/write speeds well under 1.5 Gbps, your drive’s heads are still reading millions of sectors in the time it takes to blink. That is a lot of work! And so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that read/write heads often wear out and break down sooner than other components of the drive.

Read/writes can also fail when your hard drive suffers damage. For example, if you drop your external hard drive while it’s running, the heads could crash into the platters. This can damage the platter surfaces, causing scratches or scoring. And the heads don’t fare too well either in this scenario. Sometimes they will even stick to the platters and prevent them from spinning—in which case you may hear a noise much less pleasant than the “click of death”.

When you have a clicking hard drive, the read/write heads may cause damage to the platters. This does not always happen, but it is something to be careful about. You shouldn’t try to run a clicking hard drive in the hopes it might get better, or try and use data recovery software to salvage your data. If the heads can’t read data from the platters, no amount of software will help you. And if you keep your hard drive powered on, you could cause the drive’s condition to further degrade, damaging the platters as well.

Clicking Hard Drive Recovery

When your hard drive starts making the “click of death”, it’s time to bring it to professional hard drive data recovery experts. These hard drive almost always need to have their read/write heads removed and replaced. But replacing hard drive components is a tall order.

The internal components of your hard drive are very sensitive and have razor-thin margins of error. In particular, one thing they hate more than anything else is dust. Your hard drive has internal filters to keep dust out—but those filters are of no use once you’ve popped the faceplate off your drive. Hard drives have to be opened up in dust-free cleanroom environments. If tiny particles of dust and debris get on the platters, hard drive repair becomes a much more difficult task—and without the right tools, an impossible task.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, hard drives are very picky. Every hard drive comes out of the factory just a little bit different from its neighbors, and won’t take kindly to having another drive’s parts shoved into it. Even a stack of read/write heads from a hard drive with the same model number as yours might not fix your clicking hard drive. Finding a compatible set of working read/write heads can be an exercise in frustration, and it can take several replacement attempts before you find a working set.

Your hard drive will never truly function optimally with another drive’s parts inside it. Even if you manage to safely replace a set of failed heads with a compatible set, your clicking hard drive likely won’t detect when you plug it in. Your drive’s performance falls too far beneath the threshold set by your computer. In order to salvage data from it, data recovery engineers need a fault-tolerant recovery platform.

Why Choose Gillware for Clicking Hard Drive Recovery?

Clicking hard drive recovery
Using a donor hard drive to repair a clicking hard drive in our cleanroom data recovery lab

As you can see, a lot of work can go into repairing a clicking hard drive. It takes a specialized recovery environment and specialized tools, as well as a unique set of skills. If you are in need of these tools and skills, look no farther.

We here at Gillware Data Recovery have engineers with years and thousands of hours of data recovery experience, with tens of thousands of successful cases under their collective belts. Our data recovery lab boasts ISO-5 Class 100 cleanroom workstations, so your clicking hard drive will never be contaminated when our engineers open it up.

With an extensive library of donor hard drives, our engineers can quickly and easily find compatible donor parts for your failed hard drive. And with our fault-tolerant hard drive imaging platform HOMBRE, we can salvage data from hard drives, even if they still perform poorly after a round of repairs.

If your clicking hard drive has suffered damage to its platters, other data recovery labs often won’t have the means to recover your data. They’ll just pronounce your data unrecoverable (and might slap you with an unsuccessful recovery fee or an evaluation fee as well). But with Gillware’s platter burnishing tools, we can recover data even when other labs cannot. It’s not uncommon for our engineers to see clicking hard drives that had been brought to competing data recovery labs first before the owners came to us.

Gillware Data Recovery’s services are not only world-class, but also affordable. Our data recovery evaluations come with no up-front fees—we can even cover the cost of inbound shipping—and we only charge you for our efforts after we’ve recovered your critical data. Our prices tend to be, on average, about half of what other data recovery labs in the United States charge.

Gillware’s data recovery facilities are SOC 2 Type II audited for security, so you can rest easy knowing that when you send your clicking hard drive to us, your data will be in good hands.

Why choose Gillware for Clicking Hard Drive Data Recovery?

Gillware’s data recovery services are affordably priced, technologically innovative and completely secure.


Best-in-class engineering and software development staff
Gillware employs a full time staff of electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, computer scientists and software developers to handle the most complex data recovery situations and data solutions

Strategic partnerships with leading technology companies
Gillware is proud to be a recommended provider for Dell, Western Digital and other major hardware and software vendors. These partnerships allow us to gain unique insight into recovering from these devices.

RAID Array / NAS / SAN data recovery
Using advanced engineering techniques, we can recover data from large capacity, enterprise grade storage devices such as RAID arrays, network attached storage (NAS) devices and storage area network (SAN) devices.

Virtual machine data recovery
Thanks to special engineering and programming efforts, Gillware is able to recover data from virtualized environments with a high degree of success.


SOC 2 Type II audited
Gillware has been security audited to ensure data safety, meaning all our facilities, networks, policies and practices have been independently reviewed and determined as completely secure.

Facility and staff
Gillware’s facilities meet the SOC 2 Type II audit requirements for security to prevent entry by unauthorized personnel. All staff are pre-screened, background checked and fully instructed in the security protocol of the company.

We are a GSA contract holder.
We meet the criteria to be approved for use by government agencies
GSA Contract No.: GS-35F-0547W

HIPAA compliant
Our entire data recovery process can be handled to meet HIPAA requirements for encryption, transfer and protection of e-PHI.


No obligation, no up-front fees, free inbound shipping and no-cost evaluations.
Gillware’s data recovery process is 100% financially risk free. We only charge if the data you want is successfully recovered.

Our pricing is 40-50% less than our competition.
By using cutting edge engineering techniques, we are able to control costs and keep data recovery prices low.

Instant online estimates.
By providing us with some basic information about your case, we can give you an idea of how much it will cost before you proceed with the recovery.

We only charge for successful data recovery efforts.
We work with you to define clear data recovery goals for our technicians, and only charge you upon successfully meeting these goals and recovering the data that is most important to you.

Gillware is trusted, reviewed and certified

Gillware has the seal of approval from a number of different independent review organizations, including SOC 2 Type II audit status, so our customers can be sure they’re getting the best data recovery service possible.

Gillware is a proud member of IDEMA and the Apple Consultants Network.

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