Seagate External HDD clicking when idle

I fairly recently switched an older Seagate 4TB external HDD with an 8TB one on my Windows 10 desktop's USB 3.0 slots (either on the back or front panel, I notice the same issue). It worked fine for a month or two, but now I hear a clicking sound every second or so that's louder than normal disk usage sounds. The clicking only occurs when I'm not using the disk (e.g. playing a video file or running a scan). I've ran both the short and long generic and fix all tests on Seagate tools to no avail. SMART stats are fine.

I currently have the drive plugged into my MacBook Pro that I've been using for a few hours now and the drive is idle and NOT clicking. So I now suspect I have some issue with my Win 10 desktop. This is strange since I have two other Seagate external drives plugged in with no issue. I could even run three with my older 4TB. Maybe it is a USB power issue? The 8TB draws more? I'm not sure since all my externals have their own power supplies.

I will try running the desktop with only the clicking drive and see what happens. I could also try using the integrated video or reinstall my older video card (a GTX 680) and see if that changes things, as I upgraded to an RX 480 (that should draw less power than my previous) in recent time and could be related to this HDD issue. I'll update as I find out, but let me know of other things I should check and possible solutions.
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  1. Welcome to the TH community, @onoturtle!

    I'd strongly recommend you backup all the data from that clicking external drive somewhere else ASAP. Afterwards, proceed with the troubleshooting by testing the HDD for defects through Disk Utility on your Mac or using its brand-specific diagnostic utility on the Windows 10 desktop.

    You should also check if the clicking noises are present whenever you write/read data to/from the HDD on the Windows computer.

    Keep me posted with how the HDD behaves after the video card swap and troubleshooting.
    Good luck!
  2. So far (about an hour and a half) with the clicking drive being the only HDD plugged in the USB slots on the motherboard IO, the drive has not clicked. It did go to sleep for some time (the light turned off) and I had to wake it up by viewing the contents on Windows. The drive going to sleep doesn't happen when the drive starts clicking. It just clicks on and on until I use the drive, which is only temporary as I sparingly use the drive's contents, and doesn't go to sleep. I'll leave it overnight and see if the drive stays awake and starts clicking.
  3. Best answer
    I have resolved my issue. The clicking begins shortly after starting HWiNFO64 for monitoring. The clicking instantly stops when I disable the monitoring of this drive's SMART. I've been monitoring CPU/GPU stats while gaming lately and I've been leaving HWiNFO64 on even while not playing, causing the issue. I'm not sure why the clicking only happens on idle when monitoring or why only this drive, but since I'm not interesting in monitoring SMART in real-time, I'll just leave it off. But let me know if this is a red flag for some other potential future problem.
  4. Hey there again, @onoturtle!

    I'm glad you were able to resolve the annoying issue. However, disabling SMART is dangerous. The S.M.A.R.T. tracking enables logging of the HDDs when errors occur and monitors the hard drive's health, temps, errors, etc. Of course, you don't really need it to be enabled, but it does detect the HDD's faults 99% of the time before it actually dies. Either way, it's advisable to use the HDD's brand-specific diagnostic tool or a third-party alternative to track the health of the drive every once in awhile. I'd also strongly recommend you to regularly backup the data from the external HDD somewhere else as well. Backups are the surest way to avoid any potential data loss.

    Best of luck! :)
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