I have a Dell Inspiron 1720 and the original 250 GB SATA drive crashed last month. It went out suddenly and to me I could hear hear two different kinds of clicking noises when powered was turned on. I replaced the drive with a Seagate SATA 7200 RPM 200 GB (ST9200), rebuilt the system with the Dell media discs. Then last Tuesday system froze and would not reboot. Using the internal diagnostics, I discovered numerous read failures on the drive. I am not sure how many after a dozen blocks in a row failing I felt that drive was lost. I am not real found of rebuilding again, so I wanted to ask the forum if something else could be causing this sudden occurence of disk failure.
Excessive jolts and bumps while the drive is spinning, perhaps? I've only ever had it happen to me once with a notebook, and that's because I thumped it a bit on accident. The drive was probably idle at the time and it still caused it to stop working.
The only advice I'll give is to be careful of putting a notebook into a case in sleep mode - if the drive doesn't immediately spin down and park the heads, you'd be surprised how easy it is to damage the drive by doing something as innocuous as plopping the case down on the passenger seat of your car. This is exactly the thing that happened to me - I didn't realize that closing the lid wasn't idling the drive. I was confusing all the different modes (sleep, standby, hibernate).