Hard drive prices one year after the flood

More than a year has passed since massive floods ravaged Thailand. The deluge put entire industrial parks underwater, including those responsible for manufacturing most of the mechanical hard drives sold worldwide. Production stalled as drive makers and their suppliers began the daunting task of mopping up the damage. Hard drive prices rose sharply in response, ending years of steady decline.

We’ve been watching their slow migration toward pre-flood prices ever since.

Now, one year later, the industry seems to have recovered. Market analysts project more hard drives will ship this year than in 2011, suggesting production is back in full swing. To determine whether prices have experienced a similar recovery, we once again called on the helpful folks at Camelegg. They provided us with a treasure trove of data detailing the day-to-day price changes of over 30 mechanical hard drives. Camelegg tracks prices at Newegg and doesn’t include mail-in rebates or special coupon codes, so the data should be a good indicator of what’s going on in the broader market.

First, let’s look at how current prices measure up to their pre-flood levels. The graph below illustrates the changes in price from the first week of October 2011, just before the flood, to the past seven days. We used the mean price over each seven-day period to prevent outliers from tainting the results.

Only a quarter of the drives we’re tracking cost less now than they did before the flooding. A couple have come full circle, but the vast majority have higher prices.

Look at the results more closely, and you’ll see that all the drives that have returned to or dropped below pre-flood levels are 2.5″ notebook models. Each and every one of the 3.5″ desktop drives we’re tracking is more expensive now than it was in early October of last year. We’re not talking about differences of a few percentage points, either. On average, the desktop drives cost 35% more than they did a little more than a year ago. Compare that to an average price drop of 5% for the notebook drives.

While there are clear differences between the notebook and desktop drives, no single manufacturer seems to be better or worse than the next. There isn’t a definitive trend on the capacity front, either, although it’s worth noting that the 500GB desktop drives have suffered some of the highest price increases.

Let’s break down the drives by manufacturer to get a more detailed look at the data. You can click the buttons below the graphs to switch between drive families. We’ll start with 3.5″ desktop drives.


Switching between the various drive families nicely illustrates the rise in prices in late October of last year. Although prices have declined since their peak, it hasn’t been an uninterrupted fall in all cases. A handful of Western Digital’s drives increased in price for sustained periods well after the flooding. For the most part, prices haven’t budged in the past few months.


A number of Seagate’s Barracuda desktop drives didn’t hit the market until after the flooding, so they had to sit out our pre-flood comparison. Even those newer models weren’t able to escape high post-flood prices, though. While the 7,200-RPM Barracuda lineup has maintained largely consistent pricing over the last little while, the low-power Barracuda Green family has benefited from recent discounts.


Newegg’s selection of desktop drives from Hitachi and Samsung has dwindled since those firms sold their HDD businesses to Western Digital and Seagate, respectively. That leaves us with only a handful of drives for analysis, and the picture is a little mixed. Samsung’s low-power EcoGreen F4 has gotten more expensive recently, but the 7,200-RPM Spinpoint F3 has largely held the line since its last sustained price reduction. Meanwhile, both of the Hitachi Deskstars we’re monitoring continue their slow decline.

Now, let’s switch gears and look at the 2.5″ notebook drives. The scale of the Y-axis is different for these graphs, since notebook drives tend to cost less overall.


Western Digital’s Scorpios received hefty cuts in the spring, and prices have trickled down since. Only the 500GB models have failed to drop below pre-flood levels.


The Momentus XT 750GB hybrid wasn’t introduced until after the flooding, and its price has dropped steadily. That drive’s predecessor, the 500GB XT, dipped below its pre-flood price this summer and has largely stayed under that threshold. The purely mechanical Momentus line has seen fewer price changes overall.


The price of Toshiba’s MK5061GSYN rose recently, but the MK5076GSX has returned to its pre-flood level. Don’t you just love cryptic model numbers? The Spinpoint and Travelstars have all returned to last year’s prices or dropped below them.

Last graph, I promise. Storage devices are often quantified in terms of their cost per gigabyte, so we’ve run the numbers for all the drives we’re tracking.

The notebook drives cost more per gig than their desktop counterparts, which is to be expected. Only a couple of them slip below 10 cents per gigabyte.

Low-power drives like the Barracuda Green and Caviar Green dominate the top of the chart, with per-gigabyte costs around five cents. Seagate’s 7,200-RPM Barracudas aren’t far behind, though, and the Deskstar 7K4000 4TB is only 7 cents/GB. With SSDs still running more than about 70 cents/GB, it’s easy to see why mechanical storage still has a place in today’s PCs.

Comments closed
    • Derfer
    • 7 years ago

    Been a great year to grab a 3 TB seagate. Cheaper than a lot of WD 2 TB drives and at a higher rpm than most, and based on WD green reviews I’d wager more reliable as well.

    I gave up on WD when they went sata 6. Every one of their blue/black drives I got were as loud as a raptor. Maybe I could take that noise when I was younger but now it’s just annoying.

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    Am I the only guy around here who thinks these companies are in cahoots?

      • pedro
      • 7 years ago

      No, not at all.

      • Bauxite
      • 7 years ago

      [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duopoly[/url<]

    • vargis14
    • 7 years ago

    I love my pair of 2tb cav greens”pre Flood” and i have a 60 gb original corsair force OS drive….but i keep a 320 gb samsung 7200rpm drive for downloading to. Files unpack more quickly on the 7200rpm drive then the green drives.

    I always try to keep a image file on one HD and convert it onto another…so the same drive is not reading and writing onto itself. That makes a 30 minute project take 45 min or better if i let the same drive read and write to itself.

    If i had the money for a big fat ssd i would read and write to that ๐Ÿ™‚

    DVD fab has a fantastic software suite that use 90- 100% of 8 4700 mhz threads on my 2600k with core parking disabled, plus cuda acceleration from my 560 tis

    I hate streaming anything but a live event…even then i would rather watch it on TV a much better picture then the compressed stream they like to call HD….but live some thing is much better then nothing.
    I for one would much rather have a blu ray image or iso i can mount to virtual drive…even better if its not 3d a nice 1080p MKV:)

    • sschaem
    • 7 years ago

    Aren’t 2TB green drive often $90 at shops like newegg and amazon without rebates?
    if they are really 30% higher then pre flood, that mean those drive where $60 back then ?
    I never saw, even with rebates, 2TB green for $60….

    Also the history graph show a dip in september, but in july those drive where ~$100

    So we are back to pre-flood level. not septmber level, but july levels.

    [url<]http://camelegg.com/product/N82E16822136891?active=newegg[/url<]

      • flarc
      • 7 years ago

      – In july 2012, i purchased a 2TB Green WD for 63 euros ($77 back then according to change rate on xe.com) on amazon.fr/
      -Now, it costs 99 euros ($126), same website.

      I thus agree with the 30% higher.

      • Bauxite
      • 7 years ago

      Samsung and Hitachi drives were regularly 60-80 shipped for 2TB summer 2011.

      I bought over a dozen.

      The icing on the cake is they are generally considered better models than seagate/WD “green” drives for bulk NAS/SAN purposes. (WD especially) One notable example was Backblaze who standardized on Hitachi drives after dealing with a mix.

      So we have a double whammy of slack production and market [s<]consolidation[/s<] de-facto duopoly of the two worst competitors. Not exactly a rosy outlook.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 7 years ago

        *high five* for lucky timing on storage purchases in 2011. I had a WHS box with just 2 1TB drives for a while but wanted to start storing video as well. Even though my rule for storage was always ‘never buy more than you need because it always gets cheaper’ I broke that rule for whatever reason. Got 10 2TB Samsung F4’s which are still not nearly full, but worth more than the ~$60 each I paid for them. Hell, they still have more warranty (3 years originally) than if I bought a similar drive new now. Since production seems to be in full swing again, I’m not sure we’ll see similar pricing until there are 2TB single platter drives, and even then it’s possible we won’t.

    • Freon
    • 7 years ago

    I’m sorta itching to finally buy a pair of 2-3TB drives for a new RAID1 to cut down on all the smaller single drives I have for general storage, but the lack of respectable warranty lengths has kept me from pulling the trigger. I’d be there if the regular Seagate F3, F4, or WD Green drives had longer warranties.

    I can’t see myself trusting a drive if the company producing it can’t put more than a 1-year-from-manufacture-date warranty on it.

    There are a few with 3 or 5 year warranties, but they are all costly. I’m just kinda saying screw it for now and getting by with an increasingly aged mishmash of drives.

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      You’re going to want Red (or the equivalent) drives for a RAID if you want consistent performance and longevity. You should spend on drives what you think your data is worth.

        • Bauxite
        • 7 years ago

        Reds have yet to be proven, for now its just marketing.

          • Airmantharp
          • 7 years ago

          A longer warranty is just marketing? They’re different drives (different firmware at least), and they’re actually designed to be used as long-term storage/in arrays, unlike the Green drives.

        • BoilerGamer
        • 7 years ago

        Newegg have promotion for the WD 2TB Red drive this weekend: [url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822236343<]$109.99 with promo code EMCJJNA46 [/url<] [url=http://promotions.newegg.com/NEemail/Nov-0-2012/72hourssalebf09/index-landing.html?nm_mc=EMC-IGNEFL110912&cm_mmc=EMC-IGNEFL110912-_-EMC-110912-Index-_-E0-_-Up100#Up100<]the whole promotion[/url<] I just got one for my system for $110, only $10 more than the cheapest desktop 2TB on newegg now($99.99) and based on the reputation and warranty I assume it is worth the cost.

          • Airmantharp
          • 7 years ago

          Good find! I thought they’d be more- I do need to save up for a four-drive RAID10 or RAID5 array to attach to my router for media server uses. Currently have a 2TB Green in one of those ‘plug-in’ docks.

    • JustAnEngineer
    • 7 years ago

    At under $50 per TB (5ยข/GB), the Seagate Barracuda [url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148844<]ST3000DM001[/url<] offers a low enough price to have enticed me to buy one instead of another WD Caviar Black.

    • phez
    • 7 years ago

    SSDs sales exploded this year no doubt due to their falling prices and the ridiculous asking prices of mechanical options. And didn’t TR publish a report a while back in regards to the fact mechanical mfgr’s capacity soon returned after the flood but prices were still high? In the respect of gouging their customers, it came back and bit them in the ass.

      • Krogoth
      • 7 years ago

      SSD sales went up because boot drive-size units (128GiB-256GiB) became very affordable. They completely blow away HDDs at this area.

      SSDs have done little to replace HDDs for bulk data storage (500GiB or greater). The demand for HDDs is still strong as ever despite the post-flood prices. There are still more than enough people willing to pay for current prices.

      The only whiners are people that are kicking who are themselves for not taking advantage of pre-flood prices.

        • DarkMikaru
        • 7 years ago

        “Willing” would not be the word I’d use Krog… more like… No Choice. My customers aren’t buying any more storage, as they purchased all they needed at the time of the build. Now they just want a speed boost which SSD’s happily provide.

          • Krogoth
          • 7 years ago

          Care to explain the current enthusiast craze with DIY NAS boxes and HTPC?

          You also completely discount the enterprise and datacenter markets. SSDs are still far too expensive for bulk data and archival storage.

            • Darkmage
            • 7 years ago

            Big Data is becoming the next Big Thing out here in corporate data-munching land. As smaller and smaller businesses are storing and analyzing bigger and bigger chunks of data, storage requirements are increasing markedly. Hadoop clusters are all the rage.

            A rack with 16 servers and two large capacity drives each is surprisingly affordable. I don’t see the need for large capacity physical drives dropping off anytime soon.

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      Price ‘gouging’ is never what you think it is; things are worth what people are willing to pay for them, and the financial bottom line is what matters to these companies.

      Also, keep in mind that the flood forever changed the demand landscape, which influences the supply and price landscapes in turn. Don’t expect everything to return to ‘normal’; this is the new normal.

        • sircharles32
        • 7 years ago

        And that is why I have helped both Seagate and Western Digital say that they didn’t make as much as they would have liked this past quarter.

        “Western Digital company has lowered the forecast for revenue: instead of $ 4.2-4.3 billion it expects to receive only $ 3.9-4.0 billion of the total hard drives market in the third quarter will not exceed 140 million units.

        Seagate has also lowered on Friday earnings forecast for the current quarter. If it was expected that Seagate gain for the period will be approximately $ 4 billion, but now the amount is reduced by 5-7%. The market capacity will reach 140 million units. Seagate’s market share should remain at the level of 40-43%.”

        [url<]http://xtreview.com/addcomment-id-24572-view-Seagate-lowers-quarterly-revenue-forecast.html[/url<]

        • DarkMikaru
        • 7 years ago

        As much as I hate to say it, I think you are right. Pricing we are seeing today is the new norm but I’m not convinced that pricing won’t ever drop. I think it will have to move a little, as everyone I know is only buying storage as a necessity, not a luxury. Like I said before, all my clients are looking to SSD’s, CPU’s or more memory for that speed boost for the daily grind machines. Hell, the law firm I used to work for was running out of storage and the higher ups were telling us in Operations to “figure it out”. They weren’t giving us the approval to purchase more storage because “we didn’t need it yet”. Code for we aren’t willing to pay that yet. But when all 5 in house servers are full with less than 1GB of storage available? I assumed they have taken care of this since then as I left to work for another company. But even at my new gig, we needed more space and had a budget and it took going back and forth with the Dev team to figure what was more beneficial.. SSD in server, or more storage space for client data? In the end we went for SSDs, but our budget didn’t allow both. My point is… Storage is a commodity, true, but at these prices not taken lightly anymore.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 7 years ago

    Next question: Is quality control as good as it was pre-flood?

    I wanted to buy a couple more Samsung EcoGreen HD204UI 2TB drives, only to find Seagate (having purchased Samsung) is relabeling drives of their own manufacture as HD204UI’s, and response from enthusiasts has been less than stellar compared to the Samsung.

    I myself bought the Samsungs to replace the horrible Seagate 7200.11 1.5TB drives; two of my three failed in under a year; the Samsungs have proven to be far better drives. A used genuine Samsung HD204UI is still around $100 due to demand for a product no longer available, and my other alternative, (WD Red drives) are astronomically expensive.

      • rrr
      • 7 years ago

      No, it’s not. They’ve also cut warranty periods, which isn’t doing much for the peace of mind.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    I’m guessing the 2.5″ drives cost less because everyone is opting for a SSD in their laptops. Thats really the only place where mechanicals have to compete hard. 128 or 256 is usually enough space for people on their laptops. Desktops on the other hand people still want a couple terrabytes.

    Curious if either of these drive manufacturers is actually going to produce new drives or if they’re going to keep milking this. Neither of them has really released anything major in years… Besides Seagates hybrid drive.

      • just brew it!
      • 7 years ago

      Bingo. Most of the ones that are cheaper than they were pre-flood are the ones that compete directly against SSDs in the mobile market.

    • Krogoth
    • 7 years ago

    ITT: spoiled geeks that don’t understand the realities of the economics.

    There are two reasons why HDDs haven’t gone back to pre-flood prices.

    #1- HDD companies are still trying recoup losses from the flood. Restoring factories and inventory isn’t cheap nor quick. The cost has to come from somewhere. Demand is still strong as ever.

    #2- Weakening US Dollar. HDDs are not the only victim of this.

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      #3- The flood forever changed the demand landscape. Consumers realized that as hard drive prices moved capacity outside of commodity pricing and at the same time realized that they could stream most of what they wanted; SSDs began to drop precipitously in price while gaining the capacity most would need.

      Essentially, we won’t need the extra space, and by the time we do, SSDs will be cheaper than mechanical drives in $/GB.

        • Krogoth
        • 7 years ago

        You realize that those “streaming” services operate on HDDs on the server-end? There’s also the HTPC crowd as well.

        It is very unlikely that SSDs will overtake HDDs on a $$$/GB basis. SSDs are starting to run into their own wall of issues (write/read cycle shrinking as you move onto smaller processes, cost/yields of smaller fab processes). The prices on 512GB/1TIB SSD models haven’t move that much since their introduction.

          • Airmantharp
          • 7 years ago

          Supply, demand, and Moore’s law, which doesn’t readily apply to hard drives. Also, you have slow moving behemoths Seagate and WD competing with an aggressive Intel. And Intel is intent on making sure that SSDs keep moving forward, as evidenced by their third-generation controller in their S3700 line. Remember that necessity is the mother of innovation!

          To that end, I give the spinners three years; good 128GB SSDs (Crucial, Samsung) are floating around the important $100 mark and 256GB drives are within range for many. When the majority people are content with streaming for most things, the demand for spinners is going to continue to dry up (causing prices to rise!), while competition and innovation are forced on the SSD vendors. Silicon is cheap in and itself, after all.

            • Krogoth
            • 7 years ago

            I didn’t say that HDDs didn’t have their own set of engineer problems (paramagnetic effect, it is becoming more and more difficult to read data on higher density platters). However, you are dreaming to think that flash-based SSDs are going to catch-up in terms of $$$$/GB and density.

            FYI, Moore’s “observation” has already been invalidated.

            The only thing that flash-based SSD have done is making high-rpm HDD obsolete.

      • rrr
      • 7 years ago

      They’re not trying to recoup any losses. They’re recording more profits than before. You’re either in denial or a corporate apologist/shill.

        • Krogoth
        • 7 years ago

        Link please?

          • rrr
          • 7 years ago

          Oh, for example:

          [url<]http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/storage/display/20120418224631_Seagate_Ships_Record_Amount_of_Hard_Drives_as_Revenues_and_Profits_Set_Records.html[/url<]

    • Shambles
    • 7 years ago

    2TB WD Green drives only being 25% more than pre-flood? Not even close, more like 65%. I was easily getting those drives for $60 on sale before the flood. Now they still hover around $100 on sale.

      • albundy
      • 7 years ago

      agreed! I’ve been holding out and just gave up and have stopped looking for an HDD. Now i am waiting for a decent 512gb ssd for $200 and should be all set for a few more years.

      • pedro
      • 7 years ago

      Totally agree. I loaded up a NAS with those (bad idea in hindsight considering their TLER status) just before the flood and they’re still a long way off what I paid for them.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 7 years ago

    If it is anything like the Ram pricing… you get low prices from excess of products on the shelf, not for meeting demand in production.

    Therefore it should take even longer for prices to return normal unless they have been overshooting demand despite the restricted production capacities.

    • jjj
    • 7 years ago

    “suggesting production is back in full swing.”
    Actually production is well bellow capacity, due to crappy demand, Q3 was 139 mil drives and Q4 should be similar, well bellow normal volume (last year q3 was 176 mil units and q4 would have been some 180 mil if it wasn’t for the floods).The industry should be able to make up to 200 mil units in a quarters.
    Pricing wise, there should be a small decline for the holidays but overall with just 3 vendors (or 2 and 1/3 since Seagate has some 42-43% share, WD some 44-45% and Toshiba is a lot smaller) prices will decline slowly despite the low demand.They will drop prices as they go to larger platters to keep SSDs at a distance but nobody is in a rush to earn less money.

      • Bauxite
      • 7 years ago

      Prepare for the firepower of our [i<]fully operational[/i<] [s<]death star[/s<] duopoly! 2TB for $60 and 3TB for $100 not coming back in the mainstream until those are no longer standard sizes. 1TB are hovering too close to $100 still, bleh. Ahhhh summer 2011, great time to build your storage server. BTW, memory is due for an "earthquake" soon, just you wait. (DDR4 will take too long to be widespread enough as an excuse to hike)

        • DarkMikaru
        • 7 years ago

        Bauxite said it all. I still have fond memories of purchasing two WD Green 750GB drives from newegg for 39.99 free shipping! I almost hate that I “donated” one to my overly busty ex who had her puny 60GB drive in her Dell Dimension bite the dust. Last I heard, she hasn’t even gotten close to half way on that thing and I want to say that was 2010 or early 2011 when I picked them up for that cheap. Honestly, I’m glad I did do all my HDD purchasing back then, as my WD Greens have been epic in my home file server.

        1x 640GB WD Green
        2x 500GB WD Green
        2x 750GB WD Green
        1x 250GB Maxtor IDE
        1x 320GB WD Caviar IDE
        Running on an Athlon 2650e CPU with 2GB DDR2 Ram.

        Ha, needless to say it was a poor mans little server. Cause looking at the price of the WD Reds today, to rich for my blood. ๐Ÿ™

    • Sam125
    • 7 years ago

    Are the hard drives that have increased in price older generation models that aren’t being replenished anymore? That would explain why every manufacturer has a HDD model with lower prices on some models and higher prices on others.

    At any rate, thanks for the interesting graphs Geoff!

      • Dissonance
      • 7 years ago

      Not as far as I can tell. We haven’t seen that many new drive models released in the past year.

        • Sam125
        • 7 years ago

        It seems that the most cost effective models in terms of $/GB are actually models that have increased in price since one year ago. That would imply that there’s a higher demand for the models that have increased in price but have a lower cost/GB or that prices can drop a bit more before they stabilize.

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