Fixing the click of death in Western Digital Black

I like using laptop hard drives in my desktops.  Something about the lower latency.  Call it a poor-man’s Raptor, if you will.

As it happens, I bought another drive from Western Digital, the WD Black WD5000BPKT, that had a decent 5-year warranty, but one constant and annoying issue:  the onboard power-saving features create an annoying *click* more or less randomly, as the drive seems to attempt a spin-down at strange moments.

I’ve had this issue since day one with this drive, and I’m still not sure I’ve fixed it.  Here are my workarounds so far:

Automatic Disk Access

Directory Listing

No joke – the way I fixed this under Ubuntu 12.04 was to add a directory search to my crontab, scheduling a disk use before the about 4 minutes or so it would take for the disk to spin down.

sudo crontab -e

*/3 * * * * ls /home/

Random Sector Access

I tried switching from this to having the disk read from a randomly selected sector, since I was concerned all those reads from the same place were going to do stress damage of a different kind.  So I thought perhaps I could get the disk to read random sectors on the plate with something like this…

*/3 * * * * sudo dd if=/dev/sdx of=/dev/null bs=4096 skip=$(( -1 + ( disksize * $RANDOM / 65536 ) ))

the command appears to work (that is, do essentially nothing) but the clicking returned rapidly.

Power Management Settings

Under Ubuntu 14.04, neither of these options appears to work.  So I dug down under the system settings to find the disk utility, which Trusty Tahr now simply calls the “Disks” program.


A few clicks later and I can set the disk’s APM setting to ‘254, Spin-down not permitted’,  You have to do it that way because setting the power management level to ‘255, disabled’ causes the drive to say “LOL, O RLY?” and still spin down anyway.