Cloud storage specialist Backblaze expects the downward price trend for HDDs to continue. While that may sound like a self-fulfilling prophecy, Backblaze goes further than simply noting a well-known HDD pricing trend: the company expects consumers to be able to purchase storage space at a previously unseen $0.01 per GB ratio as soon as 2025. As least, that’s the story according to Backblaze’s Andy Klein, the company’s Principle Storage Cloud Storyteller. With 253,500 HDDs bought throughout its lifetime, Backblaze certainly has the numbers from which to weave a story.
Andy Klein analyzed Backblaze’s HDD purchases throughout the time the company has been operating, starting in 2009. At that time, Backblaze’s HDD acquisitions were averaging out at a storage cost of around $0.114/GB (for capacities between 1TB and 2TB per HDD). By 2017, with the advent of 8TB HDDs, that cost had fallen by 73% down to $0.03/GB; in the intervening years and with no small thanks to ever denser HDDs culminating in the 16TB HDDs the company currently acquires, Backblaze has almost doubled its density/dollar equation by reaching $0.014/GB.
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Klein also noted how improvements in HDD densities usually move the price downward: from 12TB to 14TB, and 14TB to 16TB, the newer, higher-capacity HDDs are usually introduced at higher price points than the previous generation products. But ultimately, higher-density manufacturing technology allows for the newer product to reach lower floor prices.
All in all, the HDD $/GB equation has fallen by 87.4% since 2009, even taking into account the two/year “blip” from the 2011 Taiwan floods, but most of that fall has happened since 2017. From 2017 through today, HDD storage density cost decreased by as much as 56.36%, despite the impact of certain HDD-farmed cryptocurrencies and the entire COVID-19 components crisis.
According to Klein, we should expect HDD storage pricing to achieve the fabled $0.01/GB by 2025, thanks to the increased storage density of 22TB and 24TB HDDs. This would mean that consumers in 2025 will be able to purchase one such HDD, which currently has more storage space than the average user would occupy in two lifetimes (disclaimer: at present rates!), for $220 or $240. That’s… not a lot, comparatively.
HDDs may have been dethroned as the primary storage medium due to their relatively slow performance and added materials cost compared to NAND-based SSDs, but they still serve and will continue to serve their purposes for cold or non-critical storage requirements due to their higher storage density compared to SSDs. And it’s easy to see why: the only available 22TB HDD on Amazon, the 22TB Western Digital Purple Pro currently costs $540 (opens in new tab) (down from its MSRP of $599).
Granted, these are the worst possible conditions for that 22TB HDD pricing. It’s the latest, highest available capacity (remember the price premium we mentioned above), and there’s only one model available. Still, 22TB at $540 gives us a $~0.0245/GB pricing. That’s still much better than the $0.0745/GB achieved by our Best Pick Budget NVMe SSD, the Crucial P5 Plus. Even with all the advantages thrown that particular SSD’s way (such as its currently discounted price at $149,99), its $/GB equation ends up on a roughly 200% premium over the Western Digital 22TB HDD. And it certainly can be expected for Solidigm’s 61TB SSD to command a much higher $/GB than that.