Loud Sounds Can Damage Hard Disks

The way in which sound waves can damage a hard disk is a little known phenomenon outside those who have researched the subject or suffered the consequences of such an incident. Sound is a pressure wave, which if loud enough can cause severe vibrations through anything it hits.

As an illustration, last month a bank in Romania suffered a severe outage due to a problem while testing the fire suppression system in their data centre. The inert gas was released at such a high pressure that there was apparently an extremely loud bang, which caused severe vibrations, resulting in many of the hard disk drives failing simultaneously.

IBM have undertaken research several years ago demonstrating the problem loud noises can cause for a hard disk drive. It is possible for a loud shout to cause hard disk drives to suffer failures, due to the shockwave caused by the sudden loud noise.

It is therefore important to ensure that any fire suppression system is fully operational to avoid repeating the problem suffered by the bank in Romania, which took over 10 hours to resolve. Avoiding sudden loud noises close to any computer system, especially in a server room or data centre is extremely important, as the vibrations will most likely cause the read/write heads to impact with the platter surfaces

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