September 24, 2013

Buying My Hard Drives and Flooding Two Years ago in Thailand

I mentioned recently that I'm building my a new computer.   I haven't yet entirely decided what to do about storage.   I did buy a SSD (solid state drive) for my primary operating system boot drive.    I got a Samsung 840 Series 120GB model MZ-7TD120BW for $90.   That 120GB will give me plenty of room for the OS and other normal applications and storage.   I will probably also then swap in an extra secondary HDD from our current system to give extra data storage for photos and videos.   WE also then use the external 500GB USB drive to do backups. 

In addition I also grabbed a 1TB USB drive + anti-virus software on a discount rebate deal that will end up costing me under $25 after rebates are processed.   The deal was through Tigerdirect and I found it on Fatwallet.  They seem to run occasional deals with a harddrive + Total Defense software as a bundle.   There are some hoops to jump through to get that rebate but its worth it for a 1TB drive for under $25.

When I bought my external 500GB drive a couple years ago I considered the question :
Should I buy a big hard drive or little hard drive

I decided to get the little drive and same some money, with the intention of later upgrading as necessary.   As it turns out not too long after I wrote that article in Sept. 2011 the cost of hard drives took an unexpected turn.   As the NYT reported in Nov. 2011 : Thailand Flooding Cripples Hard-Drive Suppliers

(2011 flooding in Thailand, not necessarily near HDD factories)

Turned out that a lot of harddrives are made in Thailand so when they were hit by flooding it severely cut the supply of drives available.   That caused the prices of hard drives to jump.

Here's a look at the recent price of drives : 

I got the data from's disk drive archive and then added a new data point today for Sept. 2013 for a 3TB drive at $118 currently available at Newegg.

You can see the spike in prices at the start of 2012 which is a result of those floods in Thailand.     Back in 2011 you could get drives for about 4¢ per GB.   Only now are prices starting to return to that level overall.    Prices nearly doubled in 2012 with drives hitting at least 7.8¢ / GB. 

Luckily I don't really need more space today or that choice I made in 2011 to buy the smaller 500GB drive for $50 might have backfired. 

This doesn't  mean that I change would make a different decision in the future.  For high tech items where the prices drop steadily over time it makes sense to buy the cheaper part today and upgrade more frequently.  Things like floods in Thailand are exceptions to the norm and we shouldn't expect to see similar spikes in prices like that in the future.

Thailand flood photo by EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Some rights reserved


  1. The cost of the part is only one cost of a technology decision. The time to research, install, and configure the hardware is also a cost. If I can pay a little more for something I won't have to mess for for a lot longer, that is generally worth it, to me. Though I don't take it as far as some who use that as an excuse/justification to spend top dollar on the best available hardware. (And usually those using that excuse, don't keep it as long as they claimed they would.) Personally try to hit the "sweet spot" of a couple tiers below the top.

  2. SteveD,

    You make a good point that I didn't really consider. How much money do I have to save in order to justify the time and hassle of having to crack open the computer and install an upgrade part later on? For the $20-40 difference in a HDD it may or may not be worth it. For me the HDD upgrade woudl be adding an additional drive so its not much of a hassle, literally just open the cae and screw in the drive, attach cable and I'm good. Its probably 10 minutes work for me when it comes down to it. Of course if someone isn't very knowledgeable with building computers then it may be a lot more work to figure out how to do an upgrade.


  3. It seems that HDD drives are finally approaching their pre-flood levels, hopefully that downward trend will continue. Unfortunately for PC builders the price increase of DRAM has offset that now. The 8GB of RAM I bought for $40 is now selling for around $60.

    I agree with SteveD on trying to hit the "sweet spot" though. Paying an extra $100 for minimal performance gains is not worth it to me when something will surpass it in 2 years. I can always upgrade!


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