questionsdo you know what this computer sound is?


last time i heard a noise like that it ended up being one of the fans. a couple little kicks usually solved the problem temporarily until i could install a new fan.


I agree it's spinning parts.
Fans or hard drives are usually implicated.
The former is not tragic, otherwise backups are a good idea in any case.

eta: when I saw the post, I was expecting to be clicking on an mp3 link or youtube video :)

j5 j5

Maybe your computer is an alcoholic magician


I think the IT guy put it in there to mess with you.

"..and then I tell 'em I didn't hear anything! Bwa ha ha!"

Edit: Is there a disc in the CD/DVD/Blu-ray drive? Those things can whine when they get up to speed.


Fan. You can sometimes stop it for a while by giving the fan blades a good cleaning, because build-up of gunk can cause the fan to get unbalanced. If it gets out of balance but corrects itself as it gets warm, that means the blades have some "wiggle room" - and that means it is time for a new fan. Fans are ridiculously cheap and simple to replace. Even if your IT guy can't hear the noise, the fan is not running efficiently, which means it is not cooling the inside of the computer as well as it should. New fan = cheap. Overheated mainboard, processor, or power supply = not cheap.


I've heard that sound before myself. I agree with @j5 and @carl669, its going to be something with moving parts. The two most likely culprits are fans and hard drives. To be safe I'd back up what you have.


I'm going to go with a Fan as well. If it is a fan, it is more than likely the processor fan. It would make sense that it would start up when you first boot up the PC as it will typically run faster. Once everything is loaded, it will slow down to an idle speed which may not be fast enough to produce the sound.

Purchase a can of compressed air, take the tower outside and blow it all out. Get into the fans and clear everything out as well. Just make sure not to shake the can or turn it sideways or up side down as you don't want to accidentally freeze your processor. Not sure if it would do any damage, but I can't imagine it would be good for it.


I'm going to disagree with everyone else and say that if the sound is at such a high pitch that some people can't hear it, it's in the power regulation circuits either in the power supply or on the motherboard. It may be as simple as a capacitor beginning to fail.


@adadavis: I cannot imagine the coronary that would happen if I were caught opening the case of my office computer. LOL. If I can;t convince the IT person there's a problem, nothing's going to happen till smoke starts coming out. But this is all good to know if one of my home computers starts making a similar noise. I have had fan and HD malfunction noises and this is much, much higher pitched. I have wondered if it could be a very, very light rubbing of metal on metal.


@samstag: Interesting. I haven't ever had that happen so I don't know what it sounds like. My hearing is sufficiently acute that I wear earplugs at the theater and have to use a white noise generator to keep passing cars from waking me even though my bedroom is at the back of the house. I end up telling people all the time that their phone is ringing, because they can't hear it in their pocket or purse and it's quite clear to me. I often can hear stuff that no one else can. I have been thinking about DLing one of those ring tones that older people are supposed to be unable to hear just to see if I can hear it.


If you believe it is the Hard Drive I recommend you take a look at your hard drive's SMART data info (self monitoring information that let's you see how likely your hard drive is to failing, or if it has bad sectors).

Some PCs have diagnostic utilities provided by the manufacturer otherwise you can download programs to review this data... I usually use the "Disk Utility" provided in Ubuntu to review this... but if you are on Windows you'll need to download a program like PassMark's DiskCheckup to view this info.

Anyways, if it all checks out it may just be normal hard drive spinning or the fan like others have pointed out.


It's a fan, almost for sure. When you start it up in the morning, and the bearings are cold it is making that sound. Once it gets warmed up and moving it shuts up.

As above, ideally it should be replaced. In the real world, I don't think that the IT guys are going to put it high on thier "must do" list. Heck, my big system (which is old and due for replacement anyway) makes tons of fan noise when it starts cold. I avoid that (and problems with the PSU being funky and not wanting to start) by keeping it running all the time.


@moondrake: Is your work computer a Dell by any chance? If so, which one? Actually, providing the model and maker would be helpful in any case. I have the same type of hearing you do, and I have sympathy for you.

I agree with @samstag, who said it might be a capacitor or issue with the power supply. I've had a Dell (of the famous bulging capacitor era) that made precisely the high pitched nooneelsecanhear_it noise, until it started to go south. They still couldn't hear it, but it became a visible problem. I've also ripped out a power supply because of a noise (verified that it was the power supply first, though). Bad fans make a noise, but it's audible to anyone with normal hearing.

Your IT guy is an idiot, but then, you knew that already.


With the lid off the sound should be much easier to hear. But I do not know, I am not there.

I am trying to help you.
From the IT person's point of view:
You may have caught your IT person at a bad time, was s/he rushing somewhere? Did you go through the proper channels? Were you respectful to you IT person last time you needed help? PC and software can suck, we all know it, never take it out on your IT person.
Things make noise. Noise is hard to diagnose, in most cases. In even more cases noise goes away on its own, I wait until a 2nd request to look at something "making a weird noise" else I would spend all day listening to things.
Perhaps you IT person did diagnose all the fans and it was not them, do you want IT to replace a $500 working PC because it makes a weird noise?
My advice pay attention to your IT, if it seems like a slow time for them ask for help again, and tell him/her it's louder. I have 1000 things on my todo list
Good luck! @shrdlu: dell = HD fan or capacitor


@shrdlu: Yes, it is a Dell. I can't see the model number, it's sandwiched between my desk and the wall so I can only see the front of it. I have this enormous executive desk that I can't move on the carpet. But it's an old tower. Probably 7 or 8 years old.


@caffeine_dude: I always treat my co-workers with respect and friendliness. She's the right channel, she's in the department and is our first stop for IT problems. She'll make up a work order for things that need fixing and the IT for the City will come. But she has to recognize and understand the problem, and she got tasked with this job because, she knew more about computer hardware than anyone else in the department. She's had no formal training, so she is often at sea in making the required identification of the problem. It's a stupid system, but when you are a bureaucrat you get used to it. I doubt anything would get done about it at this point as they are knocking down City Hall in March and we are being told we can only bring our chairs. I have cynically backed up my whole section's work weekly as I have serious doubts about the servers coming back online promptly after the move. I mostly posted for future reference on personal computers rather than a plan for repair.


@moondrake: "but it's an old tower, probably 7 or 8 years old" - dang! get a new computer. for how much they prolly pay someone with a huge executive desk, the loss in productivity while a computer is down is prolly worth much more than a new computer would cost.

no1 no1

If IT is useless at helping you with an IT problem, "accidentally" spill some water on it,
problem solved.


@dmmutti: not if they don't get her a new one until after the move.

no1 no1

@no1: I'd be filling out accident report forms until then anyway. I am hoping I will get a new one when we move, but I am not holding my breath. The City pretty much works equipment till it just can't work anymore. Ideas like loss of productivity are entirely foreign to them. It is a pretty solid machine, it hasn't ever gone down. It is a bit slow, but we are still on WinXP (yay) and Office 2003 (boo) so it's able to handle the workload.


Maybe there is a new underling you can pass your computer down to and get a quiet replacement? A noise like you are describing would drive me crazy although it is my dh who would be hearing it.


Any thing important should be saved on the server. I only keep things on my PC that I am working on (for speed and consistency, I can always throw away my PC version or upload it if a successes.)

Is it this one?

IF so:
remove blue shield.
Unplug one fan at a time (when powered off to see if the sound goes away).
On the left and right of the blue shield. Their is one more under the hard drive in most cases, the hard drive comes out tool less but the dummies put a single screw in the fan assembly of the HD fan.

Look bad capacitors.


@caffeine_dude: Cool, I haven't ever seen a capacitor. No, mine is fatter and solid black except for a grey sort of shield shape on the lower third with the Dell logo on a silver coin shaped inset. Even if I knew exactly what I was doing I couldn't disassemble it, we aren't allowed to plug in speakers from home or update programs. The IT Dept is supposed to do that. I do keep all work documents on the server, only some personal crap on the HD. But I have low confidence in the servers for the move. They ran an update on our financial program and we couldn't pay bills for 3 months. I can just imagine what's going to happen when they unplug those things and load them up on trucks. So I am backing up my sections work from the servers.

@pattiq: Can't give it away as a hand-me-down or sneak in here in the middle of the night and switch 'em. They are bar coded and assigned by IT. Amusing idea, though.


@moondrake: Extremely likely a bad capacitor then. Is there a ring around the power button with a model number? Models like the GX260, GX270, and GX280 had very notorious, very bad problems with leaking capacitors. One day you will come in and the whole thing will refuse to turn on and the power light will be amber instead of green. The good news is that I haven't seen it take out a hard drive so hopefully your data will be retrievable. YMMV and this should in no way deter you from making backups.


@caffeine_dude: But which one is the FLUX capacitor?


@sjw02001: Ah, you are correct! It is an Optiplex GX280. Good call!


OP did you get it resolved?

@belyndag: The one that is fluxing.