DefinIT Insights

Is This Computer Noise Normal?

normal computer noise techspert servicesOur computers are far from silent. They hum and they whir, and at times, we can just about hear them chugging away to keep up with our demands. Not unlike our cars, our computers are mysterious machines. So how do we know when a noise is normal? What noises are harbingers of computing doom? Can you actually tell the difference between them?

Read on to find out.

Normal Computer Noises

You’re probably familiar with your computer’s startup noises. Depending on the age of your machine, these can be almost silent, or they can be an audible collection of clickings and clackings, as if the computer is adding itself up before it starts. Here are some common, harmless noises that you can expect to hear from a happy, if busy, PC:

  • Intermittent fan whirs. Computers generate heat as they run, and while some heat tolerances are built into the hardware, too much heat is a bad, bad thing. So, your computer turns on its internal fan to cool itself off. Modern computers’ fans have eco-friendly settings that allow them to run almost silently for most of the time, but if it’s a hot day (or if you’re doing some serious gaming or computing), expect the fan to sound louder – and run more often – than usual.
  • Hard drive hums. A healthy hard drive emits a sort of quiet, regular click-whir sound as it works. This is thanks to the movement of the heads, which read the data and the spinning discs, which hold it. (Not unlike a very small record player, actually.) You should hear it when you start your computer, so it’s a familiar noise.
  • Optical (DVD/CD) spinning. When you pop a CD or DVD into your optical drive, you should hear it start to work, spinning the disc. It will normally continue to spin and stop, spin and stop, as you use it.

Noises That Cause Concern

These noisy computer parts are the same ones that produce bad sounds – most notably, the “click of death” that signals a shot hard drive. If you hear any of these noises, call your IT service person or provider as soon as possible for help.

  • Constant fan whirrs. A fan should shut off now and again. If it doesn’t, your computer could be overheating internally; you could need a new fan, or your computer could need a thorough cleaning. However, before you call your IT pro, do some common-sense checks. Make sure you’ve not set your laptop on a comforter or some other cushy surface or done something else to block the air vents. And think about the ambient heat in the room. If you’re sweating, your computer might be trying to cool itself off as well.
  • Hard drive thunks, beeps, shrieks, and scratches. The grind-clunk of a failing hard drive is loud, and it’s nerve-wracking because it’s so obviously not a good noise. But, depending on the problem and on your PC’s manufacturer, your noise might be different. How different? Check out this compilation offailing hard drive sounds to learn just how diverse these auditory indicators can be.
  • An optical drive that doesn’t shut off. If your drive is running constantly, or not reading a disc, you have some investigating to do. Or actually, your IT guru does. Just make sure there’s no forgotten DVD lurking in the tray before you call!

Odd computer noises can be as anxiety producing as a candy-lover’s visit to the dentist. Fortunately, you’ve got Techsperts to call on when things get sticky – or noisy!


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