Disk: Oh, How Cheap Thou Art…

external disk drivesTwo things struck me today about disk:

  1. Went to buy some USB thumb drives for my users. I wanted to get 4 Gb drives so that they would only have the files we wanted them to have without giving them a platform for transporting more company files than they needed. Turns out that Office Depot where I went to buy the drives, doesn’t sell 4 Gb drives any more. The lowest USB drive I could get was 8 Gb…and that sold for $7.99. So I guess Office Depot doesn’t want to mess around with procuring and selling “puny” 4 Gb drives for $4.
  2. Found and retweeted this tweet on the SciencePorn twitter feed about the cost of disk.

SciencePorn - Cost of 1 Gb of storage over time
At this rate, they’ll be giving it away soon. This is incredible and makes me think that whatever OfficeDepot was charging for an 8Gb thumb drive, it was probably too much if their cost was $0.10 per Gb (about 80-cents on an 8Gb drive).

The other implication as an old adminstrator, is backup. With disk rates this cheap, you can solve more and more problems by throwing more disk at an issue. But that quickly strips away your ability to back up data to external removable media such as tape, platters, etc. The only feasible backup solutions are disk-to-disk (where you back up all or some subset of your orginal disk to insure you can recover) and replication-distribution, where you store multiple copies of all or a subset of your data in multiple locations and never back up your disk.

This also changes the admin’s role from one of conserving disk to always making sure there’s enough disk to handle needs and backup/disaster recovery.

So this is the future: more demand for disk by high storage applications (video, pictures, sound, etc) combined with lower disk costs = more disk needed to insure the data we have is always permanent.

And while disk is certainly cheap, I can’t wait for the inevitable tumble in Solid State Drive device (SSD) pricing that will offer high-speed disk for a reasonable price. Because at that point, disk makes a bigger contribution to application efficiency.

Of course, there’s the other side of the equation that says disk is cheap but it’s not free.


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About Joe Hertvik

Joe is the owner of Hertvik Business Services, a service company providing written white papers, case studies, and other marketing content to computer industry companies. He is also a contributing editor for IT Jungle and has written the Admin Alert column for the past ten years. Follow Joe Hertvik on Twitter @JoeHertvik. Email Joe for a free quote on white papers, case studies, brochures, or other marketing materials.
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1 Response to Disk: Oh, How Cheap Thou Art…

  1. Douglas Streifling says:

    4 GB thumb drive, 4 GB access path . . . I am starting to detect a pattern here. 😉

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