Computer noise is both a common complaint and a frequent source of concern among compute users. Any number of things can cause excess noise coming from your computer. In some cases, it can be caused by overheating; in others, it might result from failing components or unusual activity caused by viruses or malware. In most cases, fixing the problem requires troubleshooting steps and trial and error.
Is it normal for a computer to be loud or make whirring, clicking, or grinding sounds?
Computer hardware can make a lot of different noises. Many of them are normal, but if you hear a new, weird or alarming noise, you may want to investigate. Here’s a look at some common noises and what they could mean.
Cooling fan noise
The fan in a computer can spin rapidly and make a whine or a buzzing noise. Some mild fan noise is normal and means the computer is keeping cool. If the noise is loud or constant, there may be a problem with the fan or cooling system. Here are some things you can do to address a fan that is running too much or too fast:
Clean the fan and the inside of your computer
If you have a computer with a noisy fan, it’s a good idea to check your air vents and the interior of your computer. Ensure there aren’t any dust bunnies or other debris clogging the ducts or the fan. If you still have a noise problem, clean the fan and the area around it with a can of compressed air (available at most computer stores). If it’s been a long time since you’ve done so, you may want to power down the computer, disconnect all cables, and open it up to clean the accumulated dust from inside it. Use compressed air to blow the dust off of all components and vents. Again, make sure you turn your computer off and unplug it before doing this.
Reposition the computer or nearby objects to remove obstructions to airflow
Move it to more open space if the computer is up against a wall or other surface obstructing its vents. If an object blocks the vents, move that object out of the way. Adequate airflow is essential for adequately cooling your computer’s internal components.
Use fan control software to regulate the operation of the fan
Some fans can be controlled with software programs that modify the speed of a computer fan without messing with any other settings. Popular programs of this type include Speedfan for Windows and Macs Fan Control for macOS. Download and install the fan control software to give it a try if you want to explore this option.
Quit unneeded programs
If you are running several programs or processes at once or in the background, you can quit unnecessary programs to reduce the load on your computer. Doing so can minimize fan usage. To view and terminate processes, some of which may not be visible to you from your desktop, you can use the Task Manager in Windows and the Activity Monitor in macOS.
Use a cooling pad or another device to help keep your laptop computer cool
If you are a laptop user and the fan is running constantly and loudly, you may want to consider a cooling pad for your laptop to help it beat the heat. These cooling pads come in many different shapes and sizes. Choose the right size cooling pad for your needs.
Replace the fan
If the fan is so loud that it’s annoying you and you’ve tried the other tips outlined here, it may be that it’s just worn out and needs to be replaced. Take it out and replace it with a newer, quieter model, or take it to a computer service center to have the work done.
Hard disk drive noise
A hard drive can make a whirring or rapid clicking sound when reading or writing data. This was much more common many years ago, but now that all newer computers use solid-state drives (SSDs), which have no mechanical components, it’s essentially unheard of (pun intended). Still, many older computers with spindle-type hard disks (HDDs) are still in operation. In those cases, some hard drive noise during disk operations is normal, but if the sound is loud or constant, the drive may be failing, and an SSD replacement would be the way to go. There are several tools for Windows and macOS that will help you assess the health of your hard drive.
Your computer’s speakers should be silent unless you are playing audio through them or your computer plays a notification sound. If you are hearing buzzing or random sounds coming out of your speakers, it may indicate a failing speaker or other problem. If the sound is a buzzing or clicking noise, you may have a loose connection between the speakers and where they connect to your computer. Check to make sure that all cables for your speakers are firmly connected. It’s also possible that you are experiencing a ground loop or are picking up RF interference that is causing the noise. There are many troubleshooting guides for these kinds of issues, so do some reading on the Internet if you think you may be dealing with either of them. If you have a spare speaker set, one easy test is to try connecting that to your computer to see if you get the same behavior.
It’s normal for CD and DVD drives to produce some general whining and similar noises when media that you’ve inserted is being read or written. A loud rattle or buzzing coming from your computer’s CD or DVD drive usually means that the disk is unbalanced or not seated properly. Fixing this is often just a matter of ejecting and inserting the disk again. If the problem persists, try a couple of different disks to see if they exhibit the same behavior, indicating the potential of a failing drive.
Loose parts, missing feet, and more
Sometimes the cause of computer noise can be deceptively obvious. For example, computer CPUs (cases) typically have rubber feet on the bottom. The rubber feet serve two primary purposes: protecting the CPU and the surface it rests on from scratches and insulating it from vibration. If one or more of the rubber feet are missing, vibrations from the internal movements of the CPU can be transmitted and amplified through what it rests on. Sometimes even a small amount of activity can cause noise. Unfortunately, this is often difficult to identify because it’s similar to other types of computer noise, but checking and replacing any missing rubber feet on the bottom of your CPU should eliminate this factor.
Similarly, loose screws or cable harnesses on or in your CPU can also make any standard computer noises seem worse through sympathetic vibration. If a cable gets too close to the computer’s fan and is struck by the fan blades, it can make a tremendous noise. A little bit of movement can make all the difference in an otherwise quiet computer. Check for any loose or rattling screws, grommets, cables, and cable harnesses inside and outside the CPU. As mentioned before, unplug your computer and disconnect all cables before opening the case.
In conclusion, there are many sources of computer noise and many ways to fix the problem. By following the steps in this article, you should be able to reduce the amount of noise your computer makes and get back to work. Keep in mind that some amount of noise from a computer is expected, so you should only be concerned if it has recently changed or gotten worse. We hope that you have found this article to be helpful!