How do I fix my WD external hard drive from clicking?

What causes a WD external hard drive to make clicking noises?

There are a few potential causes of clicking or beeping noises from a WD external hard drive:

Failing read/write heads

One of the most common causes of clicking is when the read/write heads are failing. The heads float over the drive platters on an air cushion, and when they fail they can hit the platters, causing a clicking sound.

Motor or bearing issues

Problems with the motor or bearings inside the hard drive can also create clicking noises as the platters have trouble spinning up smoothly. This indicates a mechanical failure.

Impact damage

If the external drive suffers a hard knock or drop, the internal components can get jarred out of position, interfering with the drive heads and platters and causing clicking noises.

Firmware problems

In some cases, bugs or issues with the drive’s firmware can also cause odd noises including clicking. Updating to the latest firmware may help resolve this.

When to be concerned about drive clicking

One of the most concerning signs of a potential hard drive issue is if you hear a persistent clicking or ticking sound coming from the external drive. This repetitive click or tick usually means there is a mechanical component that is trying to work but unable to function properly.

Specifically, you should be concerned if the clicking or ticking occurs when powering on the external hard drive or when trying to access data on the drive. This often indicates the read/write heads are making contact with the platter inside the enclosure and could suggest a fault with the heads or motor spindle.

Clicking may also be accompanied by other performance issues like an inability to access your files and folders or very slow data transfer speeds. If the clicking persists and is paired with data accessibility problems, it likely means there is a mechanical issue with the hard drive that requires attention.

Frequent or continuous clicking noises, especially during power up or data access attempts, often lead to full failure of the drive if left unchecked. So persistent clicking is a worrying sign that should not be ignored.

Back up your data immediately

One of the first steps when dealing with a clicking WD external hard drive is to immediately back up your data if possible. The clicking noise is often an early sign of drive failure, so it’s critical to move your files to a new drive right away to avoid permanent data loss.

If the drive is still accessible, try copying critical files to a separate external hard drive or cloud storage. Avoid continuing to use the faulty drive until you’ve secured backups, as the clicking tends to get worse over time. The drive could stop working entirely at any moment.

Ideally, your WD external drive should not be your only copy of important data. Maintaining an up-to-date backup provides you with options if a drive begins clicking and needs to be replaced. As the saying goes: “There are two types of people: those who back up their data, and those who will.” Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Some backup services to consider are Backblaze, IDrive, Acronis True Image, and Apple Time Machine for Mac users. Or simply copy files to another external hard drive periodically. Just make sure critical data isn’t trapped on a clicking WD drive.

Try basic troubleshooting steps first

Before sending your drive for professional repair or considering replacing it, there are some basic troubleshooting steps you can try yourself that may resolve the issue:

Power cycle the external hard drive and computer – Unplug the drive from the computer and power outlet. Wait 30 seconds, then plug it back in and restart the computer. This can reset issues with connections or power.

Check all connections are secure – Make sure the USB cable is firmly plugged into both the drive and computer. Try a different USB port and cable as well. Loose connections can prevent the drive from working properly.

According to WD’s community forums, if the drive has been physically dropped or exposed to liquids, this can cause the clicking noise as internal parts may be misaligned or damaged. Checking connections can potentially realign things if the issue is minor.

Switch USB ports and cables – Try connecting the drive to different USB ports on your computer, including ports directly on the motherboard if possible. Test with different USB cables as well, preferably short high-quality cables. This helps determine if the issue is with the port, cable or drive.

Formatting or power issues may be resolved by changing ports and cables first before attempting more complex solutions.

Update Drives Firmware

Sometimes a WD external hard drive that is making clicking noises can be fixed by updating the firmware. WD provides firmware updates on their support site that are specifically designed to address issues with clicking or not being recognized.

Updating the firmware can potentially fix incompatibility issues between the drive and computer that are causing clicking sounds. However, caution should be used when updating firmware because if the process is interrupted, it can cause data loss. It’s best to backup all data on the drive before attempting a firmware update.

The steps to update the firmware are outlined on WD’s firmware update page. Be sure to follow them exactly, and allow the update to complete fully before disconnecting the drive. Firmware updates require patience but can sometimes fix clicking issues and bring a drive back to life without needing expensive professional recovery.

Attempt data recovery if drive is accessible

If your clicking WD external hard drive is still being detected by your computer and shows up in File Explorer or Disk Utility, you may be able to recover data from it using recovery software before it fails completely. Tools like Disk Drill can scan the drive and recover lost files. Follow the steps to install the software, select the drive, and restore your files to another location. This method works best if the drive is readable despite the clicking noises.

For critical or irreplaceable data, consider using a professional data recovery service. Companies like DriveSavers and Ontrack offer advanced tools and clean room facilities to attempt recovering data from drives with severe physical damage. This costs hundreds or thousands of dollars but may be worthwhile for valuable data. Back up any recovered data immediately.

Send for professional repair if needed

If you’ve exhausted all of the basic troubleshooting steps and DIY data recovery options without success, your best bet may be to seek professional assistance. Look for a local data recovery specialist that specializes in hard drives. They will have a clean room environment and advanced tools to physically repair drives and attempt data recovery.

If your WD external hard drive is still under warranty, you can also contact Western Digital support about sending the drive in for manufacturer RMA (return merchandise authorization). They should be able to repair or replace the drive if it qualifies under the warranty terms.

Professional data recovery does come at a cost, so be prepared for potential high fees if the data is valuable. But for critical data, it’s often worth the expense to have the best chance of recovery from a clicking or damaged drive.

Avoid DIY physical repairs

While it may be tempting to open up the external hard drive chassis and attempt repairs, this is not recommended for several reasons:

Opening the drive voids any warranty coverage from WD. Once the enclosure is opened, the warranty is no longer valid according to WD’s policies cited at

There is a high risk of causing new physical damage or irrecoverable data loss through DIY disassembly and repair attempts. The interior components of modern hard drives are extremely delicate and sensitive.

Unless you are an experienced data recovery specialist with a dust-free clean room environment, the likelihood of a successful DIY repair is very low. The proper tools, skills, and workspace are required.

Instead of risking permanent data loss or destruction through DIY attempts, send the drive to a professional data recovery service if needed. They have the expertise, environment, and equipment to safely repair drives with minimal risk.

Preventative measures

There are several steps you can take to prevent issues with your WD external hard drive clicking and potentially failing:

Handle the drive carefully – don’t drop it, knock it over, or subject it to extreme temperatures. External hard drives have sensitive internal components and should be treated with care.

Always safely eject the drive before unplugging it from your computer. Unplugging the drive while it’s in use can cause file corruption or hardware issues. In Windows, use the “Safely Remove Hardware” option. On Mac, eject the drive from the desktop or Finder before disconnecting.

Backup your data regularly. WD recommends backing up to the cloud or another storage device to protect your files in case your drive fails. Having backups ensures you won’t lose data if your drive starts clicking or fails entirely.

Keep your drive firmware up to date. Firmware updates often include bug fixes and performance improvements. You can update the firmware using WD’s software.

Store the drive properly when not in use. Place it somewhere safe where it won’t get knocked over or damaged. Avoid exposing it to magnets, dust, humidity or extreme temperatures.

When to replace a clicking drive

After troubleshooting your Western Digital external hard drive thoroughly and determining the clicking noise persists, replacement may be necessary if:

  • The drive repeatedly clicks or chatters when powered on
  • You are unable to fully access or recover data from the drive
  • The clicking starts immediately on startup and is constant

Repeated clicking noises coming from a WD hard drive upon startup usually indicate mechanical failure. If the drive is still partially accessible, recover your data immediately using data recovery software before attempting any repairs. However, if the drive is not detected, not accessible, or fails to fully power on, then physical damage is likely preventing the disk platters from spinning up.

According to WD community forums, some users facing similar clicking issues found replacing the data cable resolved the problem. But in most cases, persistent clicking indicates irreparable physical damage requiring drive replacement.

When a drive reaches this state, it’s unlikely DIY solutions can repair it. Continued use may further damage the platters and heads. Your best option is to replace the clicking WD drive and recover data (if possible) through professional recovery services.