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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hard Disk Costs Are Very Low, But Computer Prices Are Too High

Early last month, I wrote about how computer prices have behaved somewhat unintuitively over the past couple of years, making it uneconomical for me to consider replacing my computer right now. I paid less than $500 for the laptop computer I bought in February of 2008. It is a good computer with an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU running at 1.40 GHz, 2 GB of RAM, 250 GB hard drive, DVD-RW drive, 1280x800 15.6" wide-screen, etc. It also came with a high-capacity 9-cell Li-Ion battery that still lasts more than 5 hours on a full charge.

My only problem with the computer has been that over the last two and a half years, I have filled up the hard disk of the computer. Photos, videos, music, ebooks and various programs acquired over the life of the computer have filled up the hard disk to the point where I have only about 15 GB left over.

My initial thought was to replace the computer with a new one this summer. I initially thought I could get a decent computer with a much bigger hard disk for about the same price as I paid for this computer two and a half years back: about $500. Boy, was I disappointed when I started shopping around.

Most computers under $500 that I looked at during my recent computer-shopping, were based on Intel Celeron or worse processors, and had only 160 GB or 250 GB hard disks. If I wanted a decent dual core processor, 4 GB of RAM and at least 500 to 640 GB of hard disk capacity, I was looking at an outlay of about $700. Computer prices are supposed to drop with time while their capabilities go up over time. But, apparently, not in this case. Moore's law seems to have had a bad hiccup over the past 2 years!

Since the only thing wrong with my current computer is the hard disk capacity, I changed my focus from looking for a replacement computer to looking for a replacement hard drive. That was when I found that portable hard drives based on 2.5" hard drives were less expensive than just the hard drives bought as replacement laptop hard drives. Once again, unintuitive economics that forced me to change my plans once again.

I started looking for regular external hard drives based on 3.5" disks to serve as overflow storage for files that were clogging up my laptop's hard drive. I am happy to report that, finally, I have been successful in this quest. I was checking hard disk prices for some time and following trends for the past couple of weeks. I was tempted to buy some stuff earlier, but I held on, and my patience finally paid off.

Iomega Prestige 2 TB USB 2.0 Desktop External Hard Drive 34926 (Charcoal)I found a good 2 TB hard drive on sale today for under $110. Now, that is a price point that is difficult to pass up. It is on sale at for about 25% off right now, and I was afraid the price was going to go up pretty soon. Pretty much all the 2 TB drives I looked at apart from this one were in the $150 price range. In fact, most 1 TB drives are only about $10 cheaper than this drive. And the drive is made by Iomega, a pretty reputable company. So, I decided to take the plunge and ordered the drive today. I should get it in about a week or so.

The actual hard drive disk inside is supposed to be a Seagate product, but I will know more only when I get the disk and take a peek at the specifications after hooking it up to my computer.

Given that I am quite happy with my computer except for the hard drive capacity, and I am willing to live with some of the files on it being stored on an external overflow hard drive, the economics of this drive are difficult to pass up. It costs only about a fifth of what I would spend on a new computer. I already have a 160 GB and a 500 GB external hard drive at home. I use them for nightly backups of my laptop's hard drive. I will now be able to use these hard drives as overflow hard drives and use the new 2 TB hard drive as my nightly backup hard drive.

Now, given the low cost of this hard drive, and the low cost I found earlier on portable hard drives, I am wondering if computer manufacturers are making a killing selling computers for a much higher price than what it is costing them to make them from the individual components. Maybe I should buy some Dell stock instead of buying a Dell computer!


Anonymous said...

Why worry about the space on the HD? Get an online backup software, you'll not cry for a space. I personally use safecopybackup. Have never run out of space yet I have huge files on it. They have 3GB free trial that never expires.

Anonymous said...

Wow this is a great article but the problem is that as the person above said,Hard drives are normally like time bombs which blow off anytime.I registered for the unlimited trial version of Safecopy backup account and it is what am currently using for storing my files.

Blogannath said...

I appreciate the suggestions for an online storage system. My main problem is that the capacities of online storage being offered for free are too small for me. I used up 250 GB of hard disk space in about 2 years. How long would it take for me to use up another 3 GB? A month? Maybe not even that long. When they start offering terabytes of online storage for free, it will be useful for me, until then, it is just a curiosity. And the amount of bandwidth required to take advantage of even 3 GB is too much. I actually want to use my bandwidth for surfing the web rather than uploading and downloading files.

As for hard disks being ticking time-bombs, I always say there are only two types of hard disks: those that have failed, and those that will! That is why it is utterly important to have backups of everything you consider important. Backup, backup, backup. Regularly and continuously. As I mention in my post, my 500 GB disk will become my overflow storage disk for now, and the new 2 TB disk will be my nightly backup disk going forward. 2 hard disks failing at precisely the same time is a little too improbable for me to spend too much time worrying about. I prepare for the worst, but I am not paranoid!

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