I have an external USB hard drive of 500GB. I can't tell what model it is exactly, as nothing specific is written on it and I don't have the box anymore. I use it as a backup disk. It works absolutely fine when the computer is turned on: no problems with writing or reading, and everything is done in dead silence.

However, if I turn the computer off and the disk is still connected, it stays on and makes clicking noises. For that reason I only connect it when I need to back up or restore. Does that mean there's a problem with the disk, or with some preferences in the system itself?

Or something else?

Disk Utility claims that SMART data is "not supported", so I don't know how to test it.

closed as off topic by ish, Jorge Castro, RobotHumans, Uri Herrera, jokerdino Aug 18 '12 at 7:00

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  • I would get a backup, and then test the drive. It doesn't sound good. – Mitch Jul 5 '12 at 21:24
  • How do I test it? The Disk Utility says that SMART data is "not supported." – Amir Adar Jul 5 '12 at 21:25
  • You can use Test Disk. – Mitch Jul 5 '12 at 21:27
  • How do I use it to run a test? – Amir Adar Jul 5 '12 at 21:36

If you can not access the S.M.A.R.T data of your external drive then most likely the USB controller of your USB-drive does not support SMART commands. This may be overcome with

smartmontools Install smartmontools

a tool collection designed for testing and reading SMART data that also work on external USB drives.

There also is a GUI for smartctl GSmartControl Install gsmartcontrol

After installation these applications need to be run as root, e.g. from a terminal with

gksu gsmartcontrol

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In case you encounter errors you may have an imminent disk failure ahead. If not, then you may only have a poor noise protection from your external drive case, resp. a drive that makes some noise on idle.

  • It seems that the quick self-test returned no errors. I'll try to run the extended self-test and see if anything is spotted. I find it hard to imagine that it's this loud when idle, and making clicking noises. Thanks for the tool, it seems to do the trick. – Amir Adar Jul 5 '12 at 22:38
  • @AmirAdar: I have an external drive that clickers happily around when idle without any errors in the last 3 years. – Takkat Jul 6 '12 at 6:04
  • Interestingly enough, I run an extended self test, and it showed no errors. I turned off my computer while the disk is connected, and it made no sound! Strange. It might make the sounds again when I turn it off the next time, but since it seems to be perfectly fine, I suppose there's no problem with that. Thank you Very much for the tools and the explanation! :) – Amir Adar Jul 6 '12 at 11:07

Test Disk can be installed from the Ubuntu Software Center.

Once installed, Just press Ctrl+Alt+T on your keyboard to open Terminal. When it opens, run the command below.

sudo testdisk

Once the program starts, maximize terminal, choose create a new log, and then choose the drive to be tested.

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