How can I repair a noisy laptop?

MS Sidhu March 16, 2013
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My Sony Vaio (2009) laptop is making a hell of a noise. It’s like suddenly a storm starts, goes on for some time, and then stops. I am not a geek, but I think I could make out 2 noises, one a crackling sound (could it be the hard drive?) and another rotating friction sound (could be the fan?).

I tried using a vacuum to blow out the dust, but it made it worse. :-(
I cannot afford a new one and cannot even think of expensive repair!

Please help! How I can sort it out myself?

  1. dragonmouth
    March 19, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    "Defragging has helped a bit. The frequency of the noise has decreased, but when it comes- the noise is as loud as ever!"

    That would suggest to me that it is time to replace your hard drive. If you do not know how to do it or do not feel brave enough to try, have a tech replace the hard drive for you.

    • DalSan M
      March 20, 2013 at 12:26 am

      Completely agree with planning on a hard drive failure in the near future. It may or may not happen, but this is one gamble that should not be made. Backup all important data if one hasn't been made yet and get another drive to try to Ghost/image the noisy drive. Norton Ghost (paid) or Clonezilla (free) can be used to make a true copy of a hard drive so that swapping drives is just that, taking out the old and putting a new one in without losing any data, software, settings, etc.

  2. Jeffrey Javier
    March 18, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    try cleaning the fan, drop an oil on the bearing of the fan, or just send it to the technician if you dont know how to. with the cracking sound it might be your hard drive, try to replace and see

  3. Prashant Mirjankar
    March 18, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Try out compressed air to blow out the dust from laptop to reduce or remove the fan sound and as for Hard disk make sure to do backup of each and everything that is important for you in case the HDD dies.

  4. susendeep dutta
    March 18, 2013 at 10:15 am

    If you don't want to spend much money on repairs,then on software side -

    Run CCleaner,create full data backup including license keys of paid softwares.

    O hardware side,take it to the technician and ask him to assess the repairing costs.If it includes changing parts that are too costly,then ask him to atleast thoroughly clean the laptop from dust,replace the fan with a new one and apply new heat paste.This must not cost you too much and will help you extend its life.

    It it gets done,then you will need to keep care of its ventilation and have to regularly clean it as gadgets starts to weaken after years of use and needs good care.

  5. Jim Chambers
    March 17, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Since the sound stops,its not likely a HDD problem. If you have a small child, perhaps he/she stuck a small item into the fan exhaust. Hold the shutdown laptop with exhaust down and give it a gentle shake to see if anything rattles or falls out. Examine the exhaust with a flash-lite for foreign objects.

    • MS Sidhu
      March 18, 2013 at 6:10 am

      Tried That Jim. But sadly nothing was stuck! I ll take it to a specialist only I guess!

  6. null
    March 17, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Ha14, Bruce are right, finding out whats going on inside will help. There are free programs who will allow you to check the temp of yoiur cpu, and the rps of your fans.

    To using a vacuum or even a a can of compressed air on a fan, I highly recommend not doing those, The Vacuum can create a static charge around the hose, which static electricity is bad for circuit boards. Compress air cans can actually spin fans fast enough that it can wear our bearing is seconds. Also thiese two things might not help any ways due to the fact that the fan might have started blowing harder which causes the fan to be louder do to the fact that the heat sink side that the fan blows into might be covered with dust to the point that it has clogged. With noisy fans problems about half of them are caused by the fan blowing harder because of clogged heat sinks.

    If you get me the model number of your Sony, I should be able to get you the hardware matnience manual. I repair many brands of laptops in my business and have access to allot of different manuals.

  7. Bogdan Nikolov
    March 17, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    I suggest you to save money and bring the machine to a specialist. You may harm the pc if you don't know what to do.

    • MS Sidhu
      March 18, 2013 at 6:09 am

      I agree Man! My expertise was restricted to Vacuuming and Defragging!

  8. Oron Joffe
    March 17, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    I certainly agree with HA14 & Bruce Epper's comments. Finding out the what's going on with your laptop's health is key, and defragging should help - even if it doesn't resolve the problem entirely.
    One problem which occurs too often in laptops is that the heat sink separates from the processor, or the thermal paste dries out. This results in the processor heating up more than it should do, particularly when under load, and the fan then screams to high heaven trying to cool it down. If this is the problem with your laptop (back to the "PC Health" programs here), then the solution is to remove the heat sin, give it and the CPU a good clean, apply good thermal paste (e.g. Arctic Silver) and reseat the heat sink. If you feel comfortable in doing so, go ahead. If not, perhaps you should take it to a professional. This is a fairly simple procedure and should not bee all that expensive.

    • MS Sidhu
      March 18, 2013 at 6:08 am

      Defragging has helped a bit. The frequency of the noise has decreased, but when it comes- the noise is as loud as ever!

  9. Pooky Joralyn
    March 17, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    If it's the sound of a hard drive failing, you'll hear the "click of death".
    Here's an example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:WD_bad_heads_click_of_death.ogg

    • MS Sidhu
      March 18, 2013 at 6:07 am

      O My God! Please dont say that!
      Anyway Thanks!

    • Pooky Joralyn
      March 19, 2013 at 7:35 am

      Is it true for you?
      Anyway, my 8-year-old ThinkPad HDD does make some noise from time to time, but still never dies :D

    • Pooky Joralyn
      March 19, 2013 at 7:36 am

      The screeching sound may be because of the optical drive (experienced this on a Macbook Pro)

    • Paul Pruitt
      March 19, 2013 at 7:39 pm

      Yeah see if you can afford a Solid State Drive and replace your old fashion drive with an SSD if you can. At least that noise will be gone and your computer experience will also be much more satisfactory because of the dramatic improvement in loading the OS, programs and documents.

      I think all SSD's are the 2.5 inch form factor that laptop hard drives use.

    • Pooky Joralyn
      March 20, 2013 at 8:29 am

      Not going to replace HDD with SSD, it's way too expensive and actually doesn't last longer than HDD!

  10. Chinmay Sarupria
    March 17, 2013 at 9:07 am
  11. Alan Wade
    March 17, 2013 at 7:00 am

    Rotating friction sound - that could possibly be the fan's bearings in which case its a new fan.

  12. Imesh Chandrasiri
    March 17, 2013 at 6:28 am

    Sounds like the cooling fan is having trouble! since this is the most common sound problem, try disassembling the laptop. Then see whether the fans are clean! if dust is there, use a blower and clean the fans! Then check whether the fans are seated well in their mounts and not loose! Try turning on the lap and see for the noise! if it's still there, replace the fan with a new one!

  13. DalSan M
    March 17, 2013 at 2:59 am

    You can Google "(laptop model) service manual" to see what it takes to replace the CPU fan as it seems that is one cause for the noise, then check out http://www.ascendtech.com to see if they carry the parts for your laptop. I tend to be wary of loud laptop fan noise if it is abnormal as it could lead to premature failure of the processor. I would definitely check out what ha14 said to try to get a better idea what the problem(s) is.

  14. Anish P
    March 17, 2013 at 1:39 am

    I would advise against messing with the BIOS if you have not had previous experience with it before as you may accidentally make it worse.
    For the fan, I would suggest using compressed air to blow out any dust - the vacuum may not have done much to remove the dust. You can easily buy one off Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Stoner-94203-GUST-Easy-Duster/dp/B0002KKIUA/ref=sr_1_2?s=photo&ie=UTF8&qid=1363483715&sr=1-2).

    If the hard drive is making a ton of noise - back up your entire drive onto an external hard disk using software like Shadow Copy Cloner or Restoret. Then, reformat the hard disk and reinstall the OS (maybe even upgrade?). This is can be a long and somewhat confusing process, so you may need to ask for help or get more in-dept instructions online - this was what I could find for you http://howtoformatacomputer.com/format-windows-vista.

    • Tina Sieber
      March 17, 2013 at 10:10 am

      Anish,

      Why do you recommend those paid programs? There are well known free alternatives to clone a hard drive and make backups. What benefits do these paid tools that I have never heard of bring? Please elaborate. Meanwhile I have removed the links.

      If you need to clone your hard drive, follow this excellent guide:
      How To Clone Your Hard Drive

      For backups, I recommend our Backup & Restore Guide.

    • Bruce Epper
      March 17, 2013 at 12:16 pm

      I am curious why you would recommend reformatting the drive and reinstalling the OS for the described problem. While drive head movement on mechanical laptop drives frequently results in a type of crackling sound you can reduce seeks by simply defragging the drive which will take far less time than starting over.

      As for not messing with the BIOS, if it makes the issue worse all you need to do is reverse any changes you made or reset the BIOS to the default settings so no harm is done.

    • Anish P
      March 18, 2013 at 2:10 am

      @ Tina - I agree with you; I am not too familiar with Windows backup solutions and only made those selections based off a google search for 'Time Machine for Windows'

      @ Bruce - I had not thought about about defragmenting the hard drive. That could surely be a solution to the noise issue. However, if the problem persists, a solution could be to go nuclear and reformat the drive. As for messing with the BIOS, it may seem easy to many users at MUO, but I figured since MS Sidhu stated that he wasn't 'a geek' I figured it may in his best interest to not fiddle with the BIOS unless he has someone more capable with the BIOS perform the task.

    • Tina Sieber
      March 18, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      Please do not make recommendations based on Google Search! Please speak from your experience or back up your recommendation with a credible source, e.g. a MakeUseOf article. ;)

    • Anish P
      March 18, 2013 at 7:14 pm

      @ Tina - thanks for the advice and I'll keep that in mind in my future posts

  15. ha14
    March 16, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    5 Things You Can Do To Silence A Noisy Laptop Fan
    http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/5-silence-noisy-laptop-fan/

    Monitor Your Computer Fan Speed With SpeedFan
    http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/monitor-your-computer-fans-with-speedfan/

    Check your BIOS for any cpu fan speed options, lower it to see if it will reduce noise.

    sometime updating/resetting bios can help

    if its the fan maybe time to replace.

    • James Bogdanski
      March 17, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      need a new fan

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