We’re all data hungry. We need our hard drives and over the years, we’ve noticed that they've gotten cheaper and more easily available. It wasn't uncommon to find some who would buy several, large 2TB hard drives storing their games, movies and music on them. However, in the past year, things have changed a lot. The PC market as such hasn’t disappeared, but it sure has slowed down. Prices of traditional hard drives spiked right through the roof. They close to doubled and PC users all over the world started to feel the pinch. 

Seagate and WD were both affected during the floods and prices of drives shot up further. Demand continued to rise steadily and supply has reduced and the extra stock has depleted over the end of last year. Prices almost doubled towards the end of last year and the beginning of this year. The rise in prices was because of a number of reasons – some of them very clear and some others, which are now said to be false. Some even claim that hard drive manufacturers hiked up priced and even reported great results. 

Current pricing of hard drives

Let’s look at how the trends in hard drive pricing have changed over the past year or so. We’ve put together this list of the hard drives as they are today. We'll be talking of average price of drives, primarily the mainstream drives leaving aside performance or special-purpose drives. These prices are based on prices present on online stores selling hard drives. They are almost identical to the market prices. Keep in mind that they are based on the Mumbai market in India. These might be slightly different in different parts of the the country. 

Drive Price
3.5-inch hard drives
Seagate 1TB Rs. 5,200
Seagate 2TB Rs. 6,600
Seagate 500GB Rs. 4,000
Western Digital 1TB Rs. 5,200
Western Digital 2TB Rs. 6,650
Western Digital 500GB Rs. 4,000
2.5-inch notebook hard drives
Seagate 500GB Rs. 4,500
Western Digital 500GB Rs. 4,500
External portable drive
Seagate 500GB (USB 3.0) Rs. 4,300
Seagate 1TB (USB 3.0) Rs. 6,400
Western Digital 500GB (USB 3.0) Rs. 4,100
Western Digital 1TB (USB 3.0) Rs. 6,200

Desktop hard drive price trends


3.5-inch drives – always in demand

Let’s take for example, the price of the 3.5-inch internal drives. People use them in their PCs and there’s always a need to buy one more, when one runs out. These are usually the cheapest and offer the best value for money. The cost of say a 1TB hard drive today is Rs. 5,200. 1TB drives were considered to be the sweet spot as far as value for money was concerned, they would sell for Rs. 2,800 back in the end of 2010. There’s still a good 90 percent odd difference in prices. It’s not so bad once you look at higher capacity ones, such as 2TB, 3.5-inch drives. A 2TB drive would sell for Rs. 4600 or so back in 2010, now the same sells for Rs. 6,600, which is still a lot – a little more than 40 percent more expensive. The answer is simple – if you’re looking to buy a hard drive for your PC, you should ideally look for a 2TB model. 

Notebook and external portable hard drive price trends


Used in notebooks and external drives

Hard drives aren’t just for PCs. Notebook users and those looking for portable hard drives would’ve also felt the pinch due to the increased price. Those too have been affected but we’re noticing a drop in prices since the end of last year. Manufacturers always charged a premium for large capacity on small format drives. 500GB drives have been most popular when it comes to notebooks and netbooks. Let’s take a 500GB 2.5-inch drive for example. A drive of this capacity sells for roughly Rs. 4,500. That’s not too expensive, considering the price of a 500GB 3.5-inch drive is roughly the same. Of course, you’re going to get more performance on a desktop drive, but that’s a different argument altogether.  Still, the same drive back in late 2010, sold for a mere Rs. 2,300. Like the 1TB drives for desktops, this too is close to twice as expensive as it used to be.  The prices of 2.5-inch portable drives haven’t dropped, so it’s still a bad idea to go out and get one.


Portable drives prices are influenced by 2.5-inch drive prices

External portable drives rates are also dependent on the prices of internal 2.5-inch hard drives. Unless those drop, you’re not going to get affordable portable hard drives. It was easy to buy a 500GB external portable hard drive for a mere Rs. 3,200. The current price of a drive like this is Rs. 4,300 for a USB 3.0 model. That’s some 34 percent more than you’d have paid back in 2010.  

Market hasn't normalized, yet

While we’re seeing prices drop, it’s not to say that things will go back completely to normal. There’s still some residual effect of the hiked prices, there’s also the increased demand due to lacking supply and let’s not forget, increasing prices across the board. Components are more expensive and inflation doesn’t really help either. Experts say that the current prices could be assumed to be the new norm, but going by the trends over the past few months, we think it’s safe to assume that there’s still some room for improvement. 

Prices haven’t come down to previous levels just yet. But if you compare how much they cost soon after the Thailand floods with how much they cost now, there is some improvement. Prices were more than double back then. All we can say is that one needs to be smart when it comes to buying drives. Lower capacity doesn’t mean cheaper, all the time.

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