Computer Makes Noises

| October 12, 2010

If your computer makes noises, then you’re having a hardware issue of some type, which means you’ll probably need to open the case to determine what’s causing the noise. There are only a few components in the computer that move, so unless the noise is a beep, then there is likely an issue with a drive or a fan. If you are not comfortable opening the computer case while the computer is running, be sure to take it to a computer repair shop so they can help find the cause.

Computer Noises From Inside The Case

If your computer makes weird noises inside the case, it can only be caused by a few things. The components that can generate noise in the PC are the fans (there could be several), CD or DVD drive, Floppy drive, hard drive and power supply. You should start by ejecting any disks that might be inside of any of the drives, such as the floppy, Zip drive or CD drive. If there are no disks, and no activity lights on those devices, then it is likely one of the following:

Computer Makes Noises From Fan

You have at least one, but probably as many as three or four fans inside of your computer. You are guaranteed to have a fan in the Power supply. The power supply is at the back of the computer and has an exhaust fan. Some power supplies have another fan inside that draws air upward from the CPU so the exhaust fan can pull the heat out of the case.

You probably also have a fan on the CPU. The CPU fan will rest atop a metal heat sink. This fan is responsible for pulling the heat away from the CPU to keep it cool.

There could be intake fans in the front of the case and exhaust fans going out the back.

There could also be a fan on the video card GPU, which is similar to the CPU fan, but smaller.

A couple of things can happen with fans. They can simply be dirty and need to be blown out with compressed air. Or the bearings in them are starting to fail. If it is the latter, you will need to replace the fan. If the case is open, you can usually quickly pinpoint the fan that is causing the issue.  If compressed air does not fix a noisy power supply fan, replace the entire power supply immediately.

computer makes noises

Computer Noises From The Power Supply

The power supply can have a couple of noises. It could have a bad or dirty fan as described above, or it can be making an electrical humming noise. If blowing the fan out does not help, or if you do hear the electrical hum, unplug the computer and replace the power supply immediately.

power supply fans

Computer Noises From The Hard Drive

It’s not unusual for the hard drive to churn and hum as it works. If you notice loud noises above that, a few things can be happening. There could be physical defects on the platters, causing the high-speed head to bounce. It could have a bad actuator arm or read / write head. Both of these necessitate an immediate replacement of the drive. Or it could just be struggling to read and write due to a lack of space or maintenance. Check the remaining capacity and remove anything you can if the space is low. Then defrag the drive by going to Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools>Drive Defragmenter.

Computer Makes Weird Noises

You might also want to run the Disk Checking Utility. This will scan for physical defects on the drive and mark them as non-usable. To do this, right-click the C Drive in My Computer and select Properties. Under the Tools tab, click the Check Now button and have it scan and fix any errors it finds.

Conclusion: the power supply is not serviceable. Any noise coming from there is bad news and the power supply should be replace. All other fans–even the video card fan–can be replaced, if necessary. If the hard drive is making noises, back up all data, remove what you can and run the disk defragmenter and disk checking utility.

Category: Hardware


About the Author ()

Dave has been providing free computer repair and tech support advice online since 2002. Join us on our forums and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for weekly tips and other helpful computer articles. Connect with me on: Google+

Comments (4)

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  1. Dell From Hell says:

    Dear PCTechBytes,rnMy Dell from Hell, has an interesting history all ending in the computer for not reason and without input will simply announce that Windows will Shutdown! It does it with or without the internet been on or even the ethernet cord! rnNow how I came to be the PC Idiot owner of the week? My old Compaq Presario would not boot up. It would get as far as the command prompts and give weird error message. I took to ye’Ole “computer repair?” shop and was told it has a virus(?). I paid for virus repairrnThen it need a faster processor. I paid for faster processor. Then they hard drive “died”. So I paid for (you guessed it!) a Dell from them of course! Wait, one more thing, how to get those precious files off the old Compaq into the “new” Dell? Pay for it -right? WRONG. I go back a week later to be told they could not retrieve one FREAKIN FILE from old PC and they handed back the parts in plastic bag. Instructed me to (get this!) take it to a PC place that might be able to transfer the files from the pieces. Now I have bag-O-parts (which I believe oneday I’ll discover are actually not from my old PC) and the Dell from Hell. Took the DFH back 8 times to have the PC stay on less than a week and start shutting down in shorter intervals, then never boot up. We unplug for a week to Psych it out, we get a few hours and then it remembers to act a fool once more. rnAny suggestions?rnrnWe took Tax Refund and brought a sweet MacBook Pro – thus the long email (HA!)

  2. pctechby says:

    I’m really sorry to hear that. You can sometimes get data off of a drive by getting an external USB case that will hold the drive and then plug it into another PC.

  3. Upwardconcepts says:

    I turn on my Dell desktop computer this morning only to notice a sound but system could not boot. please could you help me out?

  4. Anonymous says:

    You should join our free forums so we can troubleshoot: