If your hard drive is annoyingly noisy when it’s working, you may be able to get it to quieten down. Most modern hard drives – Seagate drives being a notable exception – have a feature called Automatic Acoustic Management. This feature reduces the noise made by the drive when seeking from one part of the disc to another.
However, the feature is often disabled, because it reduces performance a little bit.
If you value peace more than speed, you may wish to enable this feature. If so, the first stop should be your drive manufacturer’s website. Several manufacturers including Hitachi, Maxtor and Samsung provide configuration utilities for their drives that include the ability to turn acoustic management on and off.
If you can’t find a utility for your drive, try the Feature Tool from Hitachi. It works with most brands of drives, even though it’s designed for Hitachi products. The utility can’t be run from Windows, so you must either download the Windows diskette creator, which will make a bootable floppy disk, or the CD image, which you can burn to CD to create a bootable disc. Put the disk in the drive and restart the PC to use it.
The Hitachi tool has a text mode interface and supports a mouse, so it’s quite easy to use. It allows you to change many options besides acoustic management. Be warned: some of these options could change the way data is organised on the drive, turning your data into garbage, while other options could switch the drive into a mode in which it can no longer talk to the controller, giving you no way to switch it back. Don’t tweak what you don’t understand and, if you don’t have a backup of your important files, on your own head be it.