Originally Posted by root
Smoking won't affect your drive because the drives are sealed...
all smoking does is leave a horrible nicotine /tar residue on the inside of the case where the air is drawn in.
really I once went to a friends house who smoked to fix his PC, and it was absolutly foul, made him feel physically sick to know that everything that as caked up on the inside of hi PC case was also caked up on this inside of his lungs.
It does sound like the hard drive is failing, I had the same problem with My PC, sometimes freezing etc...
I've changed the hard drive and now it runs great.
Inside the drive is a porous clay filter and a flapper valve. The only time air gets in or out is when there is a dramatic change in ambient air pressure. This keeps the pressure from getting to high or low inside the drive. The reason for that is to keep a stable amout of air inside to allow the head to "fly" over the platter. Cig smoke will never make it to the inside of the drive.
As for the odd sound it could be a bearing going bad or the drive head has crashed in to the platter. if it's either of these the drive is a total loss.
I guess this is a good a time as any to beat you guys over the head again about BACKING UP YOUR DRIVES. It only takes a few minutes and if you run in to a situation like this, you just pat that pile of disc's or just reload from the back up hard drive.
I have 5 hard drives on my system. 2 of them are for nothing more than backing up the other drives. It only takes a little time to back up your system compared to all the time you have to invest reloading from cd's and downloads.