Hard drive prices falling... slowly


— 12:51 PM on January 26, 2012

Last year's flooding in Thailand affected 65 of the country's 77 provinces, claimed more than 800 lives, and caused tens of billions in damage. The surging waters flooded numerous industrial parks, decimating the supply chain that feeds the hard drive industry. Thai factories are responsible for the drive motors behind most mechanical hard drives, and both Seagate and Western Digital have facilities located in the country. Western Digital's factories were hit particularly hard by the flooding, which submerged one plant under six feet of water.

With production compromised, it didn't take long for hard drive prices to rise. The supply shortfall affected everyone from big-name PC vendors to individual enthusiasts, and we've heard that the industry could take up to a year to fully recover. We tracked the increase in hard drive prices back in November, and it's high time for an update. The graph below illustrates the Newegg prices of numerous hard drives since the beginning of October. To make things manageable, we've only pulled pricing data from the Monday of each week.

As you can see, the surge started around the middle of October. Some models were affected faster and more severely than others, but all have seen their prices rise substantially due to the flooding. Thankfully, things have gotten a little bit better since our last look at the issue. Prices started trending downward toward the beginning of December, although they're still far away from pre-flood levels.

Of the eight drives we're tracking, half cost 50-71% more now than they did at the beginning of October. The other half are still priced at double their pre-flood levels, with the Caviar Black 1TB ringing up for three times what it cost before the disaster. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to which drives have been affected most, although I'm sure demand from major PC builders factors into things.

Hard drive prices are falling too slowly to give me much hope that we'll soon return to the days when 2TB drives were widely available for about $80. Right now, I'd be happy to see a terabyte selling for that cheap.

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