the second part of my solution which i strongly urge you to try is this. backup that data on another hard disk, zip disk, floppys, CD's, ect. disconect your backup device (to prevent accidental deletion of your backup files). delete all partitions and recreate your old partition structure.
reinstall your OS & copy your data back from your backup device. there may be an easier way, but data to me is very important, too important to have them sit on a hard disk with corrupted partitions.
that cranking is either caused by corrupted partitions or your hard disk is experiencing emminent hard disk failure. thats another reason for you to backup now, you risk losing all your data if it should fail soon.