Hard Drives Become Scarce!

We have all gotten used to buying inexpensive hard drives for data storage, but those days are over, at least for the next 6 months! In fact, we are likely to see major shortages causing them to be unavailable altogether.

A recent flood in Thailand is to blame for the shortage. Currently, over 70% of all Hard Drive motors in the world were manufactured there. Western Digital’s main facility was located there, and many other manufacturers were totally dependent on Thailand to keep their supply of hard drives flowing.

The flood totally devastated these factories, flooding them for over a week, and destroying clean rooms essential to the manufacture of hard drives.

The facilities affected by these floods anticipate being back in production by late March, but you can imagine that by then there will be a huge backlog of orders from companies like Technology Unlimited who not only sell new computers but also perform service, and upgrades on computers and sell drives for backup and data expansion needs of our clients. Multiply this need time thousands of vendors like us in the United States and you can easily see the problem.

Technology Unlimited was given notification by our suppliers the day after the problem became evident, and we were able to purchase a quantity of drives that should tide us over for the coming months. However, the prices were higher than previous orders we have placed. We are doing what we can to prevent major increases in the price of hard drives, while maintaining a supply for our existing clients, to assure they will be covered during the shortage. Therefore our supply is not available for sale to other dealers or suppliers.

We felt the need to make this investment to protect our clients from downtime or inconvenience from the shortage, this was our sole motive in our purchase. So as long as demand from our clients remains stable, we should have a decent supply over the next 6 months. We have researched suppliers since the shortage was made evident and almost everyone is out of stock and if they do have a drive available, the price may be double what we usually pay, or even more! We feel fortunate to have only paid a small percentage more in order to maintain our stock of drives.

What you can do to help yourself avoid paying high prices or even being short hard drives at a time when they are not available. is listed below:

  1. Consider Solid State Drives as an alternative where feasible. Though more costly, they are more reliable, far faster in delivering data, and are unaffected by the shortage from the floods.
  2. If you have computers with hard drives installed in them that are not in use, disconnect them and keep them aside for emergency use. This will prevent unnecessary wear and tear on them.
  3. If you have retired computers with decent sized and working hard drives, remove them before scrapping the old computer.
  4. If you have spare drives, not in use, keep them secure so that they are available in case of emergency need.
  5. Plan to pay a higher price for new purchases on hard drives during the next few months, when budgeting for new equipment.
  6. Be aware that new purchases may have longer than normal back-orders due to the drive shortages. It is not yet known if this will affect our manufacturers like Dell, HP, Apple, etc.

If you take these precautions and plan accordingly, the shortage will not likely be of major concern to you. At this time, however, we do not know if drive prices will return to their previous lows in the near future, once supply returns. This may be the event needed to bring the cost down on Solid State Drives and make them more mainstream than they are today. To date, the disadvantages of SSD drives are their cost and the size limitations. Typical 512GB drives sell for between $900 and $1000, but deliver lightning fast response times to data reads and writes. If the cost drops on SSD’s due to hard drive shortages, we will all benefit!

In the meantime, Technology Unlimited has a supply of hard drives to support our existing client base. Just give us a call at (405) 773-6037.


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Mike Ledbetter

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