What Does It Mean When Your Laptop Starts Clicking?

By Jane Williams

That clicking could indicate a failing component.
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During start-up, your laptop makes all sorts of whirs and beeps as it loads all the appropriate programs. These sounds typically quiet down once you're up and running, but sometimes a distinct clicking continues. This typically isn't a good sound, and requires quick service to prevent catastrophic failure.

Hard Drive

One of the worst components to hear a clicking sound from is your hard drive. A hard drive essentially works like an old record player -- the “record,” a mirror-like disk, holds all the information on your computer, and that information is read and written by a thin arm with a small electromagnet in the head. This head usually hovers over the disk, also known as a platter, to access the information. If the head actually touches the platter, or if the disk itself is physically damaged, it can produce a clicking sound.


The components inside your thin laptop generate heat as they operate, which can cause damage and functional problems if the temperature climbs too high. A small plastic fan helps keep things cool, but time, wear and the occasional drop can cause damage to this vital component. If the clicking sound originates near a vent, your fan may have broken a blade or become too caked with dust to operate properly.

Disc Drive

Although not technically as vital to the everyday operation of your laptop, the CD/DVD drive can fail, causing a clicking sound when you try to use it. Usually the sound only occurs when a disc is in the drive, and the laptop can't read the disc. In some cases this may occur due to something blocking the tray and preventing the drive from working properly, or the drive itself could have suffered a failure.

Don't Ignore

Generally speaking, a clicking sound in your laptop is bad. A clicking hard drive is a damaged hard drive, and can completely fail at any given moment, even if you aren't currently suffering any obvious performance problems. A clicking fan means it's damaged and not cooling properly, allowing the internal temperature to climb. A clicking disc drive prevents you from writing discs, or installing programs or drivers for new equipment. When you hear clicking, back up your laptop's data immediately and seek professional repair help.