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Computer making humming noise

User is online   Micky C 

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#1

So I'm a bit worried about my PC, it's making a kind of constant humming noise, which I assume is coming from the hard drive. It's a Dell XPS 420 from around 2009, so it's getting on in years. In terms of backups, all the important files are already on the cloud, and I have a daily file backup to an external hard drive, although I might get a second hard drive to create a backup image. Apparently it's been making the noise for about 9 hours, and when I checked, the (500GB) hard disk only had 50mb free, so I'm clearing out some space. Still, the computer's not acting slow, which I feel it tends to do when it's been low on space previous times.

I know it's not a lot of information to go on, but does anyone have any ideas of what it could be? I'm tempted to switch it off until I can get the 2nd hard drive but I recall TX saying the most dangerous time for a hard disk is the boot-up so I'm not sure.

Polymer wishlist: Global illumination, SSAO, Bloom, reflective surfaces, adjustable specular (wetness), volumetric lighting.
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This post has been edited by Micky C: 30 April 2017 - 03:58 PM

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User is online   Hendricks266 

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#2

Would it be possible to make a recording of the humming noise? By isolating the frequency or frequencies that it is making, we could probably identify its source. (i.e. a hard drive would likely be related to 3600, 5400, or 7200 RPM, and the power supply would relate to 60 Hz in some way)

</nerd>
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User is online   Micky C 

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#3

That's an interesting idea. I've attached a recording on my phone, so I'm not sure what the quality is or how much random noise is involved.

Posted Image

Attached File(s)



Polymer wishlist: Global illumination, SSAO, Bloom, reflective surfaces, adjustable specular (wetness), volumetric lighting.
Mapper of the Month December 2014.

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This post has been edited by Micky C: 30 April 2017 - 04:52 PM

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User is offline   Mark. 

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#4

I run the same computer. IIRC there are fans in the power supply and 2 more in the case plus one on your video card. If you can, unplug the 2 extra case fans and see if the noise goes away or not. But not for long because whatever they are cooling will heat up fast. Or put your hand over the fan on the video card if you can and see if the noise changes as the fan speed changes when covered.This next suggestion is not to insult your intelligence but because it happened when I went to someones house to identify a noise problem. They didn't realize that they had a disc in the DVD drive and every now and then it would speed up and give the noise. And lastly, if you don't happen to have a stethoscope handy you can put the tip of a large screwdriver against the case of the hard drive and put your ear on the end of the handle to listen.

edit: also touch a bunch of the plastic clips and holders inside the case just to make sure one of them isn't rattling because of fan vibration Or make sure no cables are brushing against fan blades

This post has been edited by Mark.: 30 April 2017 - 05:26 PM

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User is online   Micky C 

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#5

Some good ideas Mark. No DVD in there ATM. I'm hesitant to play around on the inside of the box while it's running in case of an electric shock. However taking a look at the back, it does sound like the noise is coming from where the fan is, and there's some dust build-up over the grate, so maybe all it's needs is a good clean. Just seems like a strange coincidence this happened when the hard drive ran out of space.

Polymer wishlist: Global illumination, SSAO, Bloom, reflective surfaces, adjustable specular (wetness), volumetric lighting.
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User is offline   Mark. 

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#6

My last idea is your computer is humming because it doesn't know the words. :lol:

Don't worry about high voltage. The only place there is any is inside the power supply.

This post has been edited by Mark.: 30 April 2017 - 05:29 PM

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User is online   Hendricks266 

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#7

I took a spectrogram using Sonic Visualiser and it looks like the two peak intensities fall in the ranges 1955.57 - 1983.4 Hz and 2033.2 - 2059.57 Hz. Your graph seems to confirm this, though I used a bin size of 32768 (instead of 512) for maximum frequency resolution at expense of time, because I assume the signal is constant so time is unimportant.

Does Australia use 50 Hz or 60 Hz electricity?
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User is online   Micky C 

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#8

Apparently we use 50Hz. So looks like all the supporting evidence suggests it may be a fan problem after all. I'll do a clean when I get home and see what happens. Probably a good excuse to make a system image backup anyway.

Update:

A big thanks to Hendricks266 and Mark for their help. I started cleaning the computer inside and noticed a wall of fluff covering the front fanPosted Image After getting rid of that and booting it up it's smooth like butter Posted Image

Polymer wishlist: Global illumination, SSAO, Bloom, reflective surfaces, adjustable specular (wetness), volumetric lighting.
Mapper of the Month December 2014.

Herbs? Tell me more!

This post has been edited by Micky C: 01 May 2017 - 01:27 AM

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User is offline   Mark. 

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#9

With increased resolution Hendricks can determine what you had for breakfast. ;)
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User is offline   Jeff 

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#10

View PostMicky C, on 30 April 2017 - 11:32 PM, said:

A big thanks to Hendricks266 and Mark for their help. I started cleaning the computer inside and noticed a wall of fluff covering the front fanPosted Image After getting rid of that and booting it up it's smooth like butter Posted Image


I had a similar issue with irregular noise inside my case that turned out to be a fan problem. Not related to dust, but rather a dying ball bearing.
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User is offline   Robman 

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#11

View PostMicky C, on 30 April 2017 - 05:26 PM, said:

I'm hesitant to play around on the inside of the box while it's running in case of an electric shock.

Careful, it's a jungle in there! - I hear they run off the same stuff that sent the Terminators back in time.

If something's making noises it shouldn't, take the side panel or cover off and put your ear to the various parts...it's perdy easy, Mr. Engineer :D
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