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Knock of Death

Knock of Death

The term “knock of death” in relation to hard drives is a relatively recent phenomenon, likely arising in the late 20th or early 21st century. Unlike the folklore surrounding unexplained knocks, the knock of death with hard drives has a more technical basis.

Here’s a breakdown of the history:

Early Hard Drives (Pre-1990s):

  • Hard drives of this era were simpler and more prone to physical failure.
  • Failure might manifest as complete silence or a constant grinding noise, offering little warning.

The Rise of the Knock of Death (1990s onwards):

  • With advancements in hard drive technology, a new type of failure emerged.
  • The drive head (responsible for reading/writing data) could become misaligned, causing it to repeatedly tap on the platters (data storage discs) inside the drive.
  • This repetitive tapping sound resembled a knocking and became known as the “knock of death.”

The Knock as a Warning Sign:

  • Unlike previous failures, the knock of death could serve as an early warning.
  • Users who heard the knocking might be able to back up their data before complete failure.
  • This led to the spread of information about the knock of death within tech communities and eventually to the wider public.

Modern Hard Drives and the Evolving Knock:

  • Modern hard drives have better error correction and diagnostics, making the classic knock of death less frequent.
  • However, some drives might exhibit clicking or ticking sounds during failure, which could be seen as an evolution of the knock.

Importance of Backups:

  • While the knock of death might provide a warning, it’s not guaranteed.
  • Regularly backing up data remains the most crucial step to prevent data loss due to hard drive failure.

The Knock’s Legacy:

  • The term “knock of death” serves as a reminder of the fragility of data storage and the importance of backups.
  • While the sound itself might evolve with technology, the core message remains relevant.


  • Clicking or tapping sounds coming from the hard drive.
  • Inability to access files or partitions on the hard drive.
  • Sudden and complete failure of the hard drive to function.
  • Error messages indicating disk read or write errors.


  • Listen for any unusual sounds coming from the hard drive.
  • Use diagnostic software to check the health status of the hard drive.
  • Back up important data immediately if you suspect a knock-of-death issue.

For professional assistance with hard drive failures, contact “The Original PC Doctor” at 1300 723 628 or visit www.thepcdoctor.com.au.

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