One unexpected cost of the severe flooding in Thailand is already making its presence felt – the cost of hard drive storage (which had been reducing for years) has been driven up to stratospheric levels.
According to Western Digital (WD, one of the biggest hard drive manufacturers in the world) 40% of the world’s hard drives are made in Thailand – and 60% of their own drives. The flooding has forced them to shut down their Thailand factories and other hard drive manufacturers have been similarly affected, resulting in a severe shortage in the global hard drive supply chain.
To add to the severity of the problem, it is not just hard drive factories that have been closed by the floods – closures at manufacturers of the key parts used in hard drives will also have a negative effect on production. Industry sources estimate that the hard drive supply chain could be limited until Q2 2012 depending on how long it takes to resume production in flood hit areas – bad news for the computer market in the run up to the vital Christmas period…
In the short term, prices of hard drives are now incredibly high:
- In the UK, major e-tailer Ebuyer are selling 1TB desktop drives for a whopping £100 to £150 – that’s 200% up from an average of £40 to £50 just a week ago. The picture is similar with laptop drives – even the cheapest 160GB drive is £60 – more than double the previous price.
- Increased prices of hard drives are also feeding into the cost of new PCs and laptops/netbooks (up £50+ generally) and, of course, the cost of external USB hard drives (up by a similar amount).
So if you were looking to add a load of storage, increase your backup capacity or buy a new computer this Christmas, it may be wiser to wait until the New Year if you can.
Any Silver Lining?
A Samsung executive said that because of the increased storage costs being passed on to assembled computers “We expect PC sales to be lower than expected. As a result, we expect weakness in D-Ram prices” – so the cost of memory (RAM) may reduce which is good news if you need more RAM to speed up your computer or play the latest games.
There may still be good deals around on external hard drives (e.g. non-computing shops who haven’t realized the value of their stock has just shot up) but they will sell out quickly as news of the floods’ impact spreads.
The prices of SSDs (Solid State Drives) are not looking as overpriced compared to standard hard drives as they used to be! A good 64GB SSD now only costs slightly more than a 160GB hard drive – it becomes a more interesting option to replace a failed drive. If you don’t actually store much on your computer (or have a large second drive for storage in your PC) then it could be well worth considering a small capacity SSD for greatly improved performance.