Dealing with a Rattling HD in my MacBook

Ever since I upgraded the hard drive in my MacBook from the 80GB that came with it to a more reasonably sized 320GB drive, I have this occasional rattling sound that resembles an airplane taking off.  It happens more often during intensive disk activities, e.g. backups, compilations, etc.  It’s  annoying and sounds scary even if it really isn’t a problem.  Initially, I thought the new (Hitachi) hard drive is about to fail and so I bought a different brand (Seagate) and replaced it.  The problem persists.

Finally, in this last day of 2009, I decided to address the problem once and for all.  I opened it up and found that the rubber hard drive “shock absorber” is dislocated. More on the analysis later. It appears that the only solution is to disassemble the keyboard/trackpad cover to gain full access to the hard drive bay and glue the shock absorber back into its proper place.  I followed the disassemble instructions at and proceeded with caution. This is a picture of the location of the rubber shock absorber.

hard drive shock absorbers

After some visual inspection before putting the hard drive back, my conclusion is that the rubber shock absorber was dislocated because I did not completely tighten up the four screws that hold the new hard drive to the metal carriage.  The extra millimeter from the protruding screws was enough to push the shock absorber inward causing the dislocation. I hope that the crazy airplane take-off noise won’t return to greet me in 2010 or else I will spring for a SSD drive that does not have moving parts.

However, the lesson learned and makes a good resolution for 2010 is to do everything right the first time. Cutting corner now just means that you have to fix it later. Happy New Year!

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