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Common Computer Noises and What They Mean

published 2/15/2021

Three's no such thing as a truly silent computer. However, if it sounds like your browsing the web on a lawnmower, then there's probably something wrong.

By knowing how to tell different computer noises apart, you'll be able to learn what they mean and how to fix them. While some noises are normal, others can signal the start of serious problems. So keep on reading and we'll walk you through the most common computer noises and what they mean for you.

Grinding or Clicking Noises

We'll start with the most concerning noise. If your computer begins to grind, click, or make any other kind of low-pitched buzzing sound, you should stop whatever you're doing and check the hard drive.

These sounds could mean that you have a dying disk on your hands. It's definitely not something that you should ignore.

To check the health of your drive, you can use a diagnostic application to see if your drive is healthy. If it looks like there's something awry, then you should back up your data as soon as you can.

You may still have time to do this, even if your disk is on its last legs. Many dying disks can run for years before they finally shut down.

After you save all of your files, you should consider replacing the drive with an SSD. This will last longer and also make your computer faster.

If your hard drive ends up being healthy, you should take this as a warning and remember to regularly back up all of your data. All hard drives die at some point. And you don't want it to take your data down too when that finally happens.

A clicking noise might also mean that a cable has moved too close to a fan and is being hit by the blades. You can open up your computer and adjust any obstructions if you're comfortable with doing that.

Loud Whirring Noises

This is a very common sound to computer users. If your fan is running at full speed, you'll likely hear a loud whirring sound.

On a desktop computer, this is likely going to be a low pitch. However, it could be a higher pitch on a laptop and also a lot more annoying. The smaller the fan is, the louder and higher-pitched the noise is going to be.

If you're hearing whirring, then your device likely needs to be cooled down.

You should check on the health of your hard drive since spinning up and down can also cause a similar sound. You should also check to see if there's a disc spinning in your DVD drive.

If you do end up having loud computer fans, you should find out which apps are taking up a lot of the CPU. If your computer is working really hard, then it's going to use the fans to cool down. You might have a program running in the background that you forgot about that's taking up a lot of energy.

You should also run a malware scan to make sure there isn't any malware taking up resources without you realizing it. If your computer is infected, you should take it to a professional to make sure that it's still safe to use.

If your laptop is overheating, you might want to unplug whatever's attached to it and shut it down for a few minutes. If you use your laptop in bed, make sure that you have a solid tray or board to put it on. Fabrics could be preventing the system from cooling down.

The same can happen when dust accumulates. Try giving the fan grilles a few passes with a dust blower. You can even open up your computer and wipe the fans down with a lint-free cloth.

Sounds Coming From the Speakers

If you hear sounds coming from your speakers when you're not playing any audio, that's something you need to look into. Make sure that the speaker cable is fully plugged into the computer. You will usually hear a click to let you know that it's connected.

Sometimes, you really need to push it in to make sure that it's completely connected. If that doesn't work, try plugging your speakers into another device and see if the problem persists. If it does, it might be the speaker cable.

You also might be getting feedback from the internal components of the computer. In this case, a USB sound card could help.

Screeching or Buzzing

If you hear a buzzing sound and it's not caused by any of the above scenarios, you might be experiencing a coil whine. This happens when the coils in your computer start to vibrate. The sounds can be loud or soft, high pitched or low pitched.

You might be able to solve this by decreasing your graphics settings if your GPU is the cause. It can also be caused by power adapters. Coil whines are usually harmless but they can be annoying.

If the buzzing is caused by the fans, you can use rubber dampeners to stop the vibrations. You also might need to lubricate the fan.

The Importance of Knowing About Common Computer Noises and What They Mean

By knowing about common computer noises, you'll be able to take more appropriate approaches to your computing problems. If you still can't seem to figure out what's wrong with your computer, or you need help solving the issue, then you should contact an experienced computer professional.

If you're looking for affordable and high-quality computer repair services, then contact us today and see what we can do for you!