back to article U2 song whacked my hard drive

We're not sure how seriously to take this. According to Mexican hardware hackers, Acer's hugely popular 8.9in Aspire One netbook will zap its own hard drive if you play music through it too loudly. According to a post on Spanish-language site HardwareCult, if you pump up the volume, your AA1's disk will quickly rebel. In …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Sounds like complete bollox. Though I might entertain the possibility that having the volume up too loud places too much demand on the power supply, causing voltage drop out to the processor supply, or hard drive supply. That would be down to poor design.

    Anything else is nonsense.

  2. Michael Kean

    It does happen.

    I have an old Clevo M375C Laptop that does the same thing.

    This laptop is a fairly thin model for it's age, and featured 4 typical crap tiny speakers plus a 3cm x 3cm x 1cm "subwoofer." (Well that's that they called it; but to me it was the thing that made the case, keyboard and trim rattle - although it did work well on resonant surfaces.)

    There were certain video files that would hit the right notes to kill the hard drive, and of course when this happened the sound card would loop it's buffer over and over too; so the only solution was to either grab the laptop and hold it hard to reduce it's vibration; or to plug in headphones. (Volume and mute buttons didn't work without the HDD being cooperative.)

    The hard drive always recovered however once the sound stopped.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't suppose

    them dancing next to their AAO cuased any vibration then ?

  4. Anonymous Coward


    Hey there could be something to it, check this out from Sun Microsystems - basically it's showing dtrace analytics.

  5. Peter D'Hoye

    Could be...

    possible reasons:

    - accoustic vibrations (though this sounds unlikely)

    - powersupply issues (voltage drop due to high power usage by audio system)

  6. Ian Rogers
    Thumb Up


    Vibration kills disks. See this video of a Sun engineer shouting at a disk stack and measuring the performance :-)

  7. Rachel Greenham

    Tried it on my Linux/HDD AA1...

    no apparent effect. played all the way through at maximum volume (which isn't saying much) without any untoward events. Did try to force some hdd use during the playback to check it was still working too.

    (Specifically Ubuntu Jaunty UNR; with the 120GB hdd Linux model.)

  8. Tony


    A quick scan through the manual shows the cause:

    "Your Acer laptop should not be exposed to temperatures below 5 or above 55 degrees celsius, strong magnetic fields, or shit Irish pop music. Any damage resulting from such exposure is not covered by the manufacturers warranty."

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Correlation does not imply causation!

    Correlation does not imply causation!

  10. john

    u2=complete catastrophic failure

    Maybe it's a new form of artificial intelligence, a bit like skynet but in a passive aggressive way

  11. Paul

    At last!

    At last - a punishment for listening to U2 :)

  12. Anonymous Coward


    ... cometh before a fall, as they say... :-)

    "Alas, our AA1 has an SSD rather than an HDD"

    ( sorry, the U2 reference was too good to miss, especially given the huge dose of hubris that the authors so richly deserve for smug technical one-uppingness ... )

  13. Steven Jones


    I can't speak for this particular issue, but I can say for absolute certainty that loud music does cause disk problems. I have a Sony hard drive camcorder, and when exposed to loud music, expecially with heavy bass, it crashes with buffer overflow problems. With quiter music this does not happen. This fitted very neatly with a finding that a SUN engineer came up with that shoting loudly directly into a RAID array caused major disk performance problems - essentially very long I/O times (about 0.5 seconds), presumably as a head that had been moved off-track was re-alligned. It would not be surprising if this could also causes data corruptions.

    Now whether a laptop speaker is capable of generating high enough volumes to cause disks to mistrack I wouldn't know for sure, but it is not impossible.

    The sooner hard drives get replaced by cost-effective SSDs the better. The former are just top vulnerable tio mechanical problems, and as some people have found out to their cost, they don't tend to work much above 4,000 metres. If your lucky your iPod will recover at lower altitude, but there is no guarantee.

  14. Andrew

    For every record player there exists a record it can't play...

    Back in 1979 Douglas Hofstadter in "Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid" noted that for every record player there potentially could exist a record it can't play - because the vibrations from that particular record will vibrate that particular model of record player to bits.

    He was using it, incidentally, as an analogy for a virus destroying a host cell.

    Never thought it would happen in the real world though...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ++ Power supply issues

    Yep. In my experience the voltage regulation on the AA1 can be pretty weak. The backlight flickering issue that affects many AA1s is more noticeable when the hard disk is being accessed and/or music is being played. There are also many reports of AA1s that lock up on battery power when the battery drops to around 60% remaining capacity. 2 out of 6 AA1s that I have purchased have been returned as faulty due to what I would consider to be voltage regulation issues.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's an incredible breakthrough... Artificial Taste research.

    I hate 80s band The U2s.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    on the other hand

    If you cranked U2 on a laptop in the same room with a few programmers I've known, you could expect catastrophic failure of the hard drive and a few other parts as well.

  18. Dave H

    To be fair...

    ...I go on strike when forced to listen to U2.

    It's the only correct response to that dross.

  19. Alan Parsons

    Bounce bounce

    I once made, while workink in a large storage test lab, a rubber band ball about the size of a basketball. Took bloody ages, but kinda evolved over a year. Walked down an aisle of racks, bounced it on the floor, a whole tray of disks at the bottom of the rack I was next to went from happy flashing green leds to not so happy solid amber ones. Whistled casually and walked away. Thankfully this was a test lab with no production kit.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    @Steven Jones

    SUN engineer came up with that shoting loudly directly into a RAID array

    Not sure if your meant "shooting" or "shouting". In either event, probably deserved.

  21. Billy T Hill

    Acer 1 & U2

    I have an Acer 1 as a tiny 'take anywhere' machine and anyone who wants to listen to music through the speakers, at any volume, clearly hates music and deserves to have the whole thing blow up on them. I imagine U2 has it's particular effect due to Bono's well known sanctimonious gland which resonates at just the right frequency to make almost anything want to self destruct. Make Bono history...

  22. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. kain preacher

    I wounder

    What would of happened if he played Guns and Roses latest album ?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ...I'd like to whack U2 wth a hard drive, on the end of a good bit of IDE (SATA falls down here). Not a 2.5" either. Actually, I know of a 40Mb Atari drive that would do nicely!

  25. P leit
    Thumb Up

    no chance

    I own an Aspire One - Linus version with SSD.

    I replaced the standard ssd which was too sloooow with a better SSD drive and XP.

    After this mod, this is the best notebook bang for buck.

    I am really impressed by my machine and I am an IT Techie.

    If this is true..not confirmed..Playing music at max will crash a SSD if there is a power issue.

    This will happen to any flash or ssd drive if power abend. FLASH drives need good power.

    I believe the rumour and it does sound possible BUT....who would want to play at max volume

    a track through the crappy little netbook speakers anyway??????????????

    (Note. It could be a faulty unit specific to his netbook.)

    The easy work around however is to plug in your system to external speakers and

    external amp for better quality sound if there is a power issue driving the inetrnal speakers.

    The Acer Aspire One rocks!!!!

    I definitely recommend it.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    I noticed a similar problem

    I discovered this to be true when I was using my old Thinkpad as a music player and had it setting on top of a subwoofer. I noticed the drive light staying on solid and found disk errors in the event log before serious damage could occur. It was obvious what was going on.

    We also had a guy here that would forget to shut down his laptop and take it home on the back of his Harley. He went through a couple of drives before we figured out what was going on. All of the drives' would come back with "Excessive Shock detected" when running the mfr's diagnostics on them.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    There might be a possibility of resonance, I don't know what the resonant frequency of a hard drive or the head/arm would be. But if resonance were to come into play then yes, the resultant vibration of the head would pose a problem.

    As for the motorbike scenario, that's somewhat different to music causing a mechanical problem with a drive, you've a lot more energy in the bumps in the road, the accelleration, decelleration of the bike, not to mention the transmission of energy from the vibrating engine to the laptop.

    This probably does exceed G limits on the drive, whilst it's moving.

    I doubt the energy in music is enough to exceed the G limits unless a resonance effect is coming into play.

  28. Frumious Bandersnatch

    Hofstadter got there first

    Seem to recall one of the Tortoise and Hare stories describing a gramophone record which, when played, would destroy the player. Some technical mumbo-jumbo about the undecidability of certain propositions.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Sounds Familiar

    I had this on a HP laptop - it used to annoy the fuck out of me.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @AA (Friday 27th March 2009 19:36 GMT)

    "I discovered this to be true when I was using my old Thinkpad as a music player and had it setting on top of a subwoofer"

    Errrrr .... this may be more to do with magnetic influence rather than acoustic, perhaps?

    "We also had a guy here that would forget to shut down his laptop and take it home on the back of his Harley. He went through a couple of drives before we figured out what was going on. All of the drives' would come back with "Excessive Shock detected" when running the mfr's diagnostics on them."

    Time to bring back disk parking, methinks.

  31. wildmonkeyuk

    Samsung ?

    Maybe samsung should use this technology so that when their mobile phones are used to play that crappy "scouse house" with some fat bloke shouting over the top, they break into a million pieces causing the chavs on the bus to cry :)

  32. Matt Bradley

    Voice Coils?

    Any conventional speaker system uses a static magnet and an electromagnetic voicecoil. As the volume is increased, the magnetic field intensity in the voicecoil will increase. Presumably in highly dynamically compressed music (such as U2's later recordings), this magnetic field intensity will be very high indeed.

    Is it at all possible that the HDD is simply fitted to close to the speakers, and voicecoil activity is interfering with the drive read mechanics?

  33. YumDogfood


    0. The song DRM borked the drive firmware (the conspiracy theory).

    1. Electromagnet (speaker) in close proximity (datawipe).

    2. PSU fluctuations (how much does a cap cost FFS?).

    3. Resonance (specific bouncy bouncy).

    4. Vibration (generic bouncy bouncy).

    5. Aliens (I'm going with this one).

    Some simple experiments should sort this out. Anybody want to sacrifice their lappy in the cause of science?

    Mine's the one with the hole in the pocket. Bloody Occam's razor.

  34. Christian Berger

    Fairly simple to find out

    Just play a very slow sine sweep. If any part should vibrate more strongly because of resonances, you will be able to measure that quite well.

  35. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Pinch of salt?

    I have an AA1 and if you can make the thing sound any louder than a gnat's fart, your welcome! The sound on the thing is awful, very quiet and very tinny.

    I have and old Xbox which I use for an media console for the kids, it sits right next to my main 22" sub woofer at home, crank up my home system, the living room doors start vibrating a little but the Xbox drive next stops or falls over!

  36. Adrian Esdaile

    Clear case of suicide.

    If I was forced to store, and then play, any shite from U2 I'd commit suicide as well.

    Mine's the one with industrial ear protection, no poncy sunglasses, and defeintely no poncy name.

  37. Andraž Levstik

    I tried to resist... really

    Simple cause:

    New type of DRM... if you play it to loud so that others than you can hear it it'll crash the hdd ;)

  38. adam


    Why would anyone want to listen to music through awful laptop/notebook speakers?

    Sounds like some sort of power issue. I guess there's gonna be some lawsuits flying around about this.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @I noticed a similar problem

    "We also had a guy here that would forget to shut down his laptop and take it home on the back of his Harley. He went through a couple of drives before we figured out what was going on. All of the drives' would come back with "Excessive Shock detected" when running the mfr's diagnostics on them."

    The simple solution would have been to tell the man to buy himself a motorbike and forget the agricultural machinery.

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