Hard Drives can be terribly noise makers in computer systems. This is especially true when you are one of those users who buys silent pc hardware and uses fan controls to lower the noise of system fans. When the noise of those fans is lowered noise from other components can probably be heard that you did not recognize before.
This can be really frustrating. I know this because I experienced this issue. I lowered the fan speed of the cpu and graphic card and bought a silent power supply only to find out that my hard drives were making a pitching sound, barely recognizable but in such a sound spectrum that it soon drove me crazy.
There is a solution for everything though and there is a nice one for lowering the noise of your hard drives. You have to know if you are using SATA or IDE hard drives though. If you use IDE hard drives you can use the excellent software Silent Drive, if you use SATA you cannot.
The image above is a screenshot of the 21K software. It displays all IDE hard drives, as you can see I have none. What you do is simply. You choose the hard drive from the list at the top. Silent Drive will then check if the hard drive supports a feature called Automatic Acoustic Management.
If the hard drive supports AAM it will display the current setting. This can either be Aus (off), laut (loud), mittel (medium) or leise (almost silent). The medium setting is not support by all hard drives but loud and almost silent should work all the time.
If you want to lower the noise of your hard drive you select the setting "leise" of course. The Seek Test button tests the hard drive and the difference between loud and almost silent should be recognizable by the user. It does depend on the hard drive though, some noisy drives don't benefit that much from the silent setting while others may benefit highly from it.
If you do use SATA drives like I do you have the choice to use a software by Hitachi called Hitachi Feature Tool which is available as a boot disk only which means that you can use it independently from your operating system. The Feature Tool does work with IDE hard drives as well making this ideal for Linux or Mac users.
Just download the 2 Megabyte ISO image and burn it to a CD. Boot your computer afterwards from that CD. Don't be confused that this is a software by Hitachi, it does support most hard drives that are not manufactured by Hitachi as well.
As you can see the Feature Tool has many options that are worth exploring. This article concentrates on the Acoustic Level which can be changed in the Features menu. Before you see that screen you have to choose the drive that you want to manage.
The next screen displays the Automatic Acoustic Management of that drive. It can be disabled, enabled with recommended values or enabled with user defined values.
The user has the option to move the slider to either reduce the hard drive noise or to increase it. Increasing it would sound like a crazy thing to do. One should note however that lowering the noise has a small - really - performance effect on the hard drive.
I prefer silent hard drives over ones that are loud but perform a tad better. The choice is yours though. It is a good idea to test the setting before saving the changes.
If your hard drive does not support the option that you are trying to change you will receive a notification after trying to save the new settings.
Update: Silent Drive is no longer available. There are other programs that you can use instead, like HDD Scan. We have uploaded the latest working version of the program to our own server. You can download it from here: silentdrive24.zip
Note that we do not support the program in any way.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.