The hard drive drought is over

The hard drive drought is over

Summary: The flooding in Thailand last year knocked out a quarter of the world's disk drive production capacity, causing shortages and price spikes. But that's all behind us now.

TOPICS: Storage

Just before the floods, benchmark consumer hard disk drive (HDD) prices for raw drives online were commonly in the 4¢/GB range. We're seeing that number again - and expect to see 3¢/GB in some scattered instances before Christmas.

As I said back in May, when some predicted permanently higher prices for HDDs

Drive prices will largely be back to normal by year-end. Seagate and WD won't like it, but they'll just have to deal.

With PC sales declining and the threat of SSDs, drive vendors can't afford to get greedy on pricing. They need the volume and they can't make SSDs any more attractive than they already are.

At the same time, all 3 drive vendors - Seagate, WD and Toshiba - have very profitable and fast growing external storage product lines. Most people would rather buy a subsystem than stick a raw drive into an enclosure, even though that takes all of 5 minutes.

So vendors have less need to sweat the raw drive price and more need to drive production up to keep unit costs low. In fact, during the drought, it was cheaper to buy external storage, pull the drives and throw away the enclosures than it was to buy naked drives.

Don't believe me? Check out the amusing story of Farming hard drives: how Backblaze weathered the Thailand drive crisis. One of my favorite online backup providers, Backblaze bought thousands of external drives for use in their capacity-thirsty storage pods. And saved a bundle in the process.

The Storage Bits take Vendors can take heart in the fact that hybrid drives - combining SSD and HDD technology - will give them some breathing room in the fight against SSDs. But raw $/TB prices have to keep dropping to keep volumes up.

And that's good for us capacity hungry consumers.

Comments welcome, of course.

Topic: Storage

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  • Good to know!

    I was thinking a little about expaning a little lately but I didn't check the prices yet.
  • About time

    Its been great watching the price of SSD's dropping, I've even seen sales of 512/480GB SSD near $300. With new updated ones with increasing IOPS coming out I can finally update my old SSD,
  • Re: Throwing away the enclosures.

    Good thing I read the link. I thought Backblaze was throwing away the enclosures. They didn't. They recycled them. When the HDD dies or I want to upgrade the HDD inside I reuse the enclosure. Most external drives I have are LaCie HDDs. They're good for any OS. I also buy other enclosures to reuse drives from junked computers. Some enclosures are quite expensive.
    Arm A. Geddon
  • I noticed that, too!

    "In fact, during the drought, it was cheaper to buy external storage, pull the drives and throw away the enclosures than it was to buy naked drives."

    Yeah, I noticed that too! You'd got to the hard drive section of a computer store and a 500 GB drive would be, like, $99.00. Then you'd check out the portable USB drives and you could get a 1TB drive for $89.00. It made no sense.
  • I did that

    I needed to replace a drive last winter and found the exact same thing, cheaper to buy the external drive than an internal one, so I bought the external and ripped it out of the case... I didn't care what speed to drive was as it was only for data storage and speed was not an issue.
  • Not Really

    The premise of this is just plain wrong. The cost of disk drives have never been linear. Before the flood, you could buy 160GB drives for $38 at newegg (23 cents per GB). Now, the best deal available is $59 for 250GB, which is also, magically 23 cents per GB.

    However the drives cost the manufacturer exactly the same to manufacture, and this represents a very large increase in cost to people who sell products that don't have any use for even 160GB. For the past 10 years there has always been a retail drive available at the $40 price point. We've moved from 40 to 80 to 160 over the years. But that price point disappeared after the flood. So there is gouging going on.

    All of a sudden, Western Digital is making boatloads of money. They've moved up the low end.