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Ask Max: Clicking iBook, very hot!

Asked on 09/20/2006:

After a couple of hours of use I hear a clicking sound and the iBook freezes for a minute every five minutes. The iBook gets hot during this problem.Thanks for any ideas you have, I love my iBook that we got from you.


There are very few components of a computer that can make a clicking noise. The usual suspect for random clicking is the hard drive. The clicking noise is caused by the drive's internal read head smacking against the side of the drive's case. This is a precursor to total drive failure, so back up your important data right now even if you think it could be something else. One way to check the health of your hard drive is to go into Disk Utility and look at the "S.M.A.R.T. Status" of your drive. Big problems will be identified by the S.M.A.R.T. on-drive diagnostics, but you may need to use the Apple Hardware Test (AHT) included with the iBook Restore discs.If your hard drive passes the tests then you will need to use your ears to narrow your search. Wait until your iBook starts clicking and then put your ear to the iBook. If the clicking is under the left palm rest, it's coming from the hard drive. Clicking coming from under the right hand side of the keyboard is caused by the optical drive. An optical drive will fail much like a hard drive and make the same type of clicking noise.Another possibility that your iBook's fan is causing the clicking; the fan is located by the display hinge. There is also the outside chance that the clicking is caused by the system freezing and not the other way around. In that case it could be a problem with the RAM, or software conflicts. Try removing the extra RAM from your iBook and see if the problem goes away. To test software, reboot with the "Shift" key held down to boot into a Safe Boot mode.Good luck and I hope this narrows the troubleshooting.

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