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Silence Your Hard Disk

    Nobody wants to be disturbed while watching TV or listening to music.  A more or less noiseless operation maybe a necessity when building your HTPC.

    This article aims at helping you to:

    • reduce the noise of hard disks you've already bought
    • findr a new innately silent hard disk.

    General Notes

    • The more platter a hard disk has the louder it is.
    • The smaller the case the harder it is to absorb hard disk noise.
    • The hard disk rotational speed will affect the pitch of the idle noise from the drive. Higher RPM drives have a higher pitched sound, and are often found to be noisier in absolute sound levels (dBA).
    • 2.5" hard disks are generally more quiet than 3.5" ones.
    • Hard disks of the same type/model # may sound pretty different due to varying quality or different parts used.

    Choosing a silent hard disk

    • 3.5" hard disks
      The most hard disk offerings can be found in the widely-used 3.5" format.
      Hard disks that are known to be silent are:

      • Samsung T166 series, e.g. HD501LJ
      • Western Digital Caviar GP series, e.g. WD5000AACS
    • 2.5" hard disks
      You already have a NAS / server taking care of your data.
      There is not much space to dam or decouple your hard disk?
      You want your hard disk to be as noiseless as possible?
      Then a 2.5" harddisk will ideally suit your needs.
      Harddisks that are known to be silent are:

      • Samsung M5 series, e.g. HM160HI
      • Seagata Momentus 5400.3 series, e.g. ST9160821AS
    • Solid state disks
      The new upcoming star in the storage sector is probably the solid state disk.
      These "harddisks" have much lower (random) access times, and noise and heat emission are lower compared to regular hard disks.
      The downside of these flash drives is their price and the yet lacking availability.

    Reducing harddisk noise

    • Using AAM (Automatic Acoustic Management)
      Seek noise of a some hard disks can be reduced by setting AAM to silent. (Not all hard disks support AAM.)
      • HUTIL: only Samsung drives
      • SEAAAM: only Seagate Barracuda IV & V drives
      • WINAAM: works with different brands, created by German PC magazine c'T
      • Hitachi feature tool: especially for IBM/Hitachi drives, supports some other brands as well
    • Using HDD enclosures
      HDD Enclosures have great potential in reducing both idle and seek noise.
      Scythe offers several ones: Scythe product page

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