I have a co-worker who is very… skilled at duplicating the sounds that a dying hard drive makes. He might leave the office to respond to a request and return with an “errrnnnt-Kssh! errrnnnt-Kssh!” sound to explain the source of the problem: a failing hard drive. This skill was honed a couple years back when we had about 300 hard drives in Dell’s that all failed within 2 months of each other and then 50% of the refurbished replacement drives also failed. (Ah… the ol’ IBM DeathStars) Without going through such a traumatic, time-wasting experience you can also learn the sounds of a failing hard drive for diagnostic purposes and a cue to make sure your backups are current ASAP through a website.
Data Cent, a professional data recovery service, has a web page with different faulty hard drive’s sounds. Sorted by manufacturer and with a brief description of the problem with the recorded drive, the sounds can be very helpful to figure out a problem or describe a symptom to users/clients/customers. The site has Maxtor, Western Digital, Seagate, and a few other manufacturers listed. The sounds are embedded with a simple Flash player so you can easily stream the sounds.
Just a word of warning, if you’re particularly sensitive to the thoughts of data loss these sounds may be worse than a dentist drill.
Check out the Failing hard drive sounds on Data Cent’s site.