Solid state drives (SSDs) have become a popular storage solution compared to traditional hard disk drives (HDDs). SSDs use flash memory and have no moving parts, making them faster, lighter, and less prone to mechanical failure than HDDs. However, some users have reported hearing odd noises coming from their SSDs, including clicking sounds. While uncommon, these noises can be concerning for SSD owners. This article provides an overview of the potential noises SSDs can make, what causes them, whether they indicate a problem, and how to prevent or fix them.
What is an SSD?
An SSD, or solid-state drive, is a type of computer storage device that uses flash memory to store data persistently. Unlike traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) that use rotating magnetic disks, SSDs have no moving parts and store data on integrated circuit chips (https://aws.amazon.com/compare/the-difference-between-ssd-hard-drive/).
Some key differences between SSDs and HDDs:
- SSDs are faster for reading and writing data due to not having moving parts. They have quicker load/boot times.
- SSDs are more durable and shock-resistant since there are no fragile moving disks.
- SSDs are silent and emit less heat as they have no spinning disks.
- However, HDDs have larger storage capacities available for lower costs currently.
Overall, the benefits of speed, durability, efficiency make SSDs ideal for consumer devices like laptops. HDDs are still used for large data storage needs where capacity is crucial.
Common Noises from SSDs
Although SSDs have no moving parts, they can sometimes make audible noises. Some of the most common sounds from SSDs include:
Intermittent clicking or ticking noises are one of the most common sounds produced by SSDs. This occurs when the drive accesses data, performing read and write operations. The noise comes from the NAND flash memory chips and other components (Source). It’s usually nothing to worry about.
A faint buzzing or humming is also common in SSDs. This steady background noise is from voltage regulation components that control power delivery on the drive. It’s normal and not a concern (Source).
Some SSDs may produce a low pitched humming sound, especially under heavy load. This comes from inductors and capacitors on the circuit board. As long as the humming isn’t loud or excessive, it’s nothing to be alarmed about (Source).
Why Do SSDs Click?
SSDs typically should not make any clicking or mechanical noises since they have no moving parts. However, there are a few potential reasons an SSD may emit clicking sounds:
One cause can be due to firmware issues. The controller chip and firmware manage how data is written, stored, and retrieved on an SSD. If there is a firmware bug or defect, it may result in odd clicking or other noises as data operations occur (Source).
Some SSDs do contain small mechanical components like capacitors. If these parts become loose or damaged, they could vibrate or move slightly, causing a clicking noise during drive operations. This points to a hardware defect (Source).
In rare cases, the SATA connector or cabling to the SSD may be faulty and could cause intermittent clicking noises. Reseating cables or swapping to a new SATA cable can potentially fix this.
Overall, clicking noises from an SSD are abnormal. While not always indicative of a major problem, unusual sounds warrant checking the drive’s health and performance.
Is Clicking Noise Bad for SSDs?
In most cases, clicking noises from an SSD are not an immediate cause for concern. However, persistent clicking can indicate potential issues with the drive.
Clicks and other odd noises can sometimes occur when an SSD is carrying out internal maintenance routines like garbage collection or wear leveling. These processes reorganize data on the drive to optimize performance and extend endurance. The clicks are caused by the SSD controller rapidly accessing different memory blocks during this maintenance (1).
While this clicking is not harmful in the short term, it can be a symptom of a drive that is nearing the end of its lifespan. The internal maintenance cycles happen more frequently on older SSDs as the drive has more data to optimize and rearrange. So persistent clicking noises from an aging SSD may indicate it will need replacing soon.
More concerning are clicks that happen constantly during normal operation rather than intermittently. This can be a sign of a hardware defect or failure. For example, it may indicate problems with the controller board, failed memory chips, or connection issues (2). In this case, the clicking likely means the drive has failed or will fail imminently.
In summary, occasional clicking is usually harmless for an SSD, but persistent clicking noises or clicks during normal use can indicate a problem. It’s a good idea to monitor the drive and back up important data if you notice excessive clicking.
Fixing a Clicking SSD
If your SSD is making clicking noises, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can try to fix the issue:
First, check for a firmware update from the SSD manufacturer and install it if available. Firmware updates can fix performance issues and other problems that may be causing the clicking noises .
Next, try rebooting your computer and running the SSD’s diagnostics software if available. The diagnostics can identify any errors on the drive.
You may also want to check the power and data connections to the SSD and reconnect them. Loose cables can cause issues that result in clicking sounds.
If the clicking persists, you may need to replace the SSD entirely as the noises likely indicate a hardware problem. Be sure to back up your data first, then swap in a new SSD and restore your backup.
Replacing a clicking SSD will resolve the issue if the noises are due to a faulty drive. Select an SSD from a reputable brand to avoid getting another problematic drive.
Preventing Clicking Noises
There are a few things you can do to help prevent clicking noises from your SSD:
Keep your SSD firmware updated – SSD manufacturers periodically release firmware updates that can improve performance and fix bugs that may be causing issues like clicking noises. Check your SSD manufacturer’s website and update to the latest firmware.
Use vibration dampening – SSDs can develop clicking noises due to vibrations from other internal PC components. Installing your SSD on vibration dampening mounts or pads can help absorb these vibrations and stop any rattling sounds.
Ensure proper cooling – Excessive heat can cause SSD components to expand and contract, leading to clicking noises. Make sure your SSD has adequate airflow and cooling inside your PC case. Consider adding additional case fans if needed.
Store SSD properly when not in use – When transporting or storing your SSD, keep it in anti-static packaging and avoid bumps or drops. This protects the SSD components from damage that could eventually lead to issues like clicking sounds.
Alternative SSD Noises
In addition to clicking, SSDs can sometimes make other noises like buzzing or humming. These Alternative SSD noises often have different causes than clicking noises.
Buzzing or humming coming from an SSD is usually caused by electrical interference. The high frequency buzzing/humming happens because SSDs have very fast switching circuits that can pick up electrical interference or radio frequencies. Sources of interference like power supplies, cables, motors, wifi signals etc. can induce currents that get amplified and produce audible noise in the SSD’s circuitry.
According to an analysis on Super User, the buzzing sound may also come from the voltage regulator on the SSD working hard to maintain stable power delivery during intense drive activity. The buzzing tends to increase or decrease with the SSD usage/load.
In most cases, buzzing or humming noises don’t indicate any failure or problem with the SSD itself. The noises may be annoying but don’t pose a risk to data. Preventative options include using shielded cables, moving sources of interference further away, or applying noise damping materials if the noise is very bothersome.
When to Be Concerned
There are a few key indicators that your SSD may be failing and that you should be concerned. These include:
Performance Issues: If your SSD is taking longer to boot up or load applications, this could signal it’s having problems (Source). Failing SSDs will see a noticeable slowdown in speed.
Frequent Crashes and Freezes: An SSD that frequently crashes, freezes, or restarts unexpectedly could be failing. This is one of the most common symptoms (Source).
Errors: Error messages related to the SSD itself or storage are a red flag. This includes I/O device errors, memory problems, and file system errors (Source).
If you notice any of these issues, it’s time to be concerned about your SSD potentially failing. The most important thing is to backup your data, as once an SSD fails, data recovery is difficult and expensive. Regularly backup important files and replace aging SSDs proactively.
In summary, SSDs can sometimes make a clicking noise during normal operation. This is often caused by the controller communicating with the NAND flash memory chips. While clicking is normal, other unusual noises like screeching or grinding could indicate a hardware issue. Overall, some clicking or chirping is not a cause for concern and doesn’t negatively impact the SSD. However, if the clicking is constant, loud, or accompanied by performance issues, it may require troubleshooting or replacement. Proper firmware updates, disabling power management features, and ensuring sufficient airflow can help minimize clicking noises and extend the life of your SSD.