By now you have heard that hard disk drive (HDD) prices are increasing rapidly because of widespread flooding in Thailand. The monsoons of 2011 brought factory production to a standstill. The human toll has been devastating as hundreds have perished and millions have been displaced. The World Bank estimates the financial loss at 45 billion dollars making this the fourth most costly disaster in history. Thailand is the second largest exporter of HDD producing about 40% of the world’s HDD. It is surpassed only by Singapore.
Supply and demand economics govern computer electronics and the inelasticity is apparent in much higher prices at least for the short term. Not surprisingly, prices have doubled and tripled for HDD in the recent weeks. There are several price watch sites to compare prices online. For now, the estimates of when full production will return in Thailand are pessimistic. The supply will return as Thailand plants resume production and competing manufacturers ramp up, but prices may be inflated for an extended period depending upon how the global market responds.
So what should you do without jeopardizing your system or data integrity?
Don’t want to pay more – If you are price inelastic, meaning you don’t want to pay even a small increase for a server, PC or HDD, wait to make a purchase and monitor prices. Only choose this option if you can safely delay making an IT purchase without losing productivity or data integrity. Remember that a few hours of being “down” can cost considerably more than the price of new hardware.
Have to purchase now – If you have to make a purchase, spend time comparing prices to get the best deal. You can explore the refurbished market for cost savings, but even those markets have sharply increased.
Buying refurbished electronics – If you buy a refurbished HDD, be sure that it has a warranty and that you have a spare. Think about your backup and redundancy needs and be sure that you are covered in case of unexpected failure.
Compromise and choose less capacity – You may be able to choose a smaller hard drive for a price you are comfortable with and look to upgrade later. Only choose this option if less capacity works for you without lots of extra work. You can easily spend the cost of the HDD in administration costs to move and verify data.
As always, make sure that you have a good backup, just in case.