Anyone that has bought themselves external WD drives from the Elements/My Book/Easystore series are probably familiar with the acoustic characteristics of the drives. The drives have a loud hum caused by WD running the drives at 7200rpm while claiming the drives to be “5400rpm-class” and the clacking of the read-write heads is audible as well. In a small space, such as an apartment, the hum is maddening, especially when you have more than one drive running at the same time.

After running such a setup for months, enough was enough. I bought some sound dampening foam and used that to try to limit the noise that my setup was making. However, that didn’t do much and the before/after noise comparisons didn’t have much of a difference. As a result of this testing, I did have various pieces of acoustic foam left, and after I noticed that my Lenovo M73 Tiny PC had a similar shape to the WD My Book 12 TB hard drives that I got recently, I had an idea.

Minimum viable server, now with 90% less noise!
Minimum viable server, now with 90% less noise!

I used four pieces of foam and placed them so that I could stack the hard drives on top. This resulted in the humming noise being completely eliminated. The sound of hard drive read-write heads is still there, but it is so much less audible now. After this change, I have started hearing the cooling fan more than the hard drives themselves.

This setup could probably be improved by switching around the setup so that the hard drives were at the bottom with the bottom drive having additional foam or rubber feet below it to support it better. For the time being, I’m perfectly happy with this arrangement, as long as it doesn’t fall over.

2021-04-23 update

I have now added a fan to the setup!

Pretty cool, eh?
Pretty cool, eh?

The fan itself is powered by one of the USB ports with the help of a spare sacrificial USB cable and a Noctua omni-join kit that I had left over.

The drive temperatures are now reading around 42C and 46C.


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