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gechurch

Yep - definitely sounds like a HDD issue to me. The noises sound like a hard drive issue, and the random slowness etc are common symptoms too so having them together makes it extremely likely to be the case.

The "chkdsk /r" that the first responder mentioned will check for a bad drive - in the summary section at the bottom is it has anything other than 0KB in Bad Sectors then your drive is dying. The only thing you can do about it is replace it.

Your best bet now is to not use the machine at all until the replacement comes. When it does come you can either clone from your old drive to the new (using software like Ghost or Acronis), or can install Windows on it from scratch and start copying your files over manually.