Clicking Hard Drives

Probably the most common symptom of a failing hard drive is that distinct clicking noise – sometimes called the click of death.

If you have ever had this problem in the past, chances are it was diagnosed as a hardware failure. And in some cases it is. Unfortunately, I can’t fix this type of problem. Most technicians will ship a drive like this out of state to a lab that can open the drive to solve the problem. I have a local partner with the appropriate tools and experience to fix it for you, saving you lots of time.

How and why do hard drives start clicking?

Traditional IDE and SATA hard drives have lots of little moving parts inside. Your information is stored on magnetic discs arranged in a stack. Imagine a record player, with a big stack of records, and in between each record is a separate needle. That’s exactly how the platters that store your information work inside your hard drive. You ask the computer to read a file, and the platters spin to put the file under the correct head so it can be read. There are motors and other parts in there too, but the point is, any of these parts failing or breaking down is going to cause your hard drive to crash.

Opened hard disk drive, showing the Internal hard disk structure.

The clicking noise is usually caused when one of the heads can’t find the first sector on the drive and it goes into a loop looking for it. If you let the drive run and it clicks for a long period of time, the platter itself can get warped. Since the platters are where your data is, that’s not good. If your drive is clicking and you want to be able to possibly recover data from it, shut it down as soon as possible.

But sometimes, your hardware is functioning exactly the way it should, and the drive is clicking anyway. Newer, large capacity hard drives have a language they use to communicate called micro-code, which is stored on the green circuit board underneath your hard drive (called a PCB board).  If the firmware fails, the drive can do all kinds of strange things, including clicking.

The green circuit board seen on the underside of this hard drive is the PCB board. The little black chips contain the firmware.

If it’s a physical problem, you’re looking at an expensive repair, starting in the $1000 range and running to $1600. The drive needs to be shipped to a facility with a cleanroom so it can be opened without dust and debris damaging the platters. usually the process involves transferring good parts using a donor drive that’s the exact model of your hard drive. Once your drive is working, they can copy the data to a brand new hard drive that you can either purchase from them or ship to them. The donor parts are removed and your damaged hard drive is disposed of properly.

Examining the inside of a hard drive in clean room conditions.

Luckily, if the problem is with the PCB board or the chips that are on the outside board, no cleanroom should be required and the cost is usually less than $500. One place I recommend checking out is 300 Dollar Data Recovery. They can diagnose your drive for you and if the problem does require cleanroom facilities they can even forward it along to one of those companies if you are interested. If you’d be more comfortable, I can handle the arrangements and ship it off to 300 Dollar Data Recovery for you.

Proposal for Garry Landscape & Construction

I’m going to present a range of laptop and docking station options so you have an idea what the features and the pricing would be depending on which way you’d like to go.

Laptops

Laptop option 1 – This laptop has a fast CPU that should be able to handle multitasking like doing book keeping while using the internet and other tasks. The 16GB of RAM is double the recommended amount for Quickbooks 2020, so it should keep your programs running smoothly. For storage, the 1TB SSD hard drive will make booting up and running programs much faster. SSD memory is like the storage in a camera card or your smartphone, with no moving parts so it is incredibly fast. Windows 10 Professional pre-installed.

Laptop option 2 – This laptop has a faster CPU than the 1st laptop, and like the laptop above has 16GB of memory but half the storage with a 512GB SSD. Windows 10 Professional pre-installed.

Laptop option 3 – This is a “renewed” laptop, but it’s a bargain at this price. The CPU is middle of the road but meets the quickbook specs, and it has the same 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD hard drive for storage as the two above laptops. It is a bit smaller with only a 14″ screen, which may not matter if you are planning on connecting it to an external monitor anyway. This also has a DVD drive, which is rare in newer laptops.

Docking Stations

They no longer make the type of docking station that allows you to snap the laptop in- all the modern ones are basically USB hubs with network and video ports, and some of them also have other added functions (like camera card readers).

Here are some docking station options. They all have multiple USB ports and HDMI and DVI for video but you may prefer one style over another.

Monitors

All of these monitors will work for your laptop needs, it’s a matter of what size you prefer and if the style or color of the monitor makes a difference.

Keyboards

You could get an adapter like this, which lets you adjust the angle of the keyboard to 3 different heights and angles, and would allow you to use any keyboard you are comfortable with.

These are flat wireless mouse and keyboard combos you could use with the above adapter.

Or you can get one that is designed to be tilted.

Office

Office 2019 comes in two varieties- the standard desktop version that installs on your computers, which is here –

The other options is a subscription to Office 365, which is a web based version of all the office apps and also lets you install the desktop version. The web apps work by logging in online, similar to the way you will be using Quickbooks. All files created by the online office apps are stored in the cloud in Microsoft Onedrive, so they are accessible from anywhere on any computer by logging into your account. You can pay for the entire year in advance if you prefer. the software will always be up to date, so when office 2021 or 2022 comes out, your subscription is automatically updated.

I believe that handles all the hardware and Office, and I will be working on finding a replacement for the Cisco softphone and something to handle the payroll.

Malware & Ransomware Facts For 2018

Malware infections are on the rise again. 350,000 new malware samples are produced every day and that number is expected to grow.

43 percent of cyber attacks are aimed at small businessesIt takes most businesses about 197 days to detect a breach on their network.

Small businesses are a major target of malware attacks

Ransomware attacks increased by 36 percent in 2018, totaling more than 6,000 attacks every day. 64 percent of Americans are willing to pay a ransom after becoming victims of ransomware attack, which encourages new attacks. The average amount demanded after a ransomware attack is $1,077, which means ransomware has become a billion dollar business.

If you suspect your computer has a malware infection, please contact me today.

 

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