Hard drive shortages to last until March

Thai Floods

The water may be starting to recede, but devastating floods in Thailand are going to affect the cost of computers and components for at least another six months, according to analysts at IDC and IHS iSupply this week.

Prices for hard drives have rocketed in the last few weeks as a result of factory closures in Thailand as the country has been battered by storms since July. The cost of storage has more than doubled at UK online retailers, and the US is following suit. Consumer prices are rising faster than business costs due to the rapid buying up of any surpluses by IT channel companies keen to guarantee the best deals for their customers.

The Thai floods are the worst the country has faced in over 50 years and have affected over nine million people, including most of the capital Bangkok. Rural and poor areas have suffered the worst: over 400 people have been killed already and the Red Cross is warning of a potential typhoid epidemic to follow.

It might seem spurious to talk about hard drives in the face of such terrible natural disaster –but the country is a major hub within the hard drive industry and home to major fabrication plants owned by Western Digital, Seagate and Toshiba, as well as manufacturers of smaller components for export to other fabs overseas. Western Digital has been the worst hit, and it alone was producing more than 10 million drives a month from its Thai operation.

With the temporary closure of these facilities the knock on effects to other devices, like laptops and cameras, could be long term.

My advice? Put off upgrading your hard drive for a bit and consider donating some of the money you'll save to a charity involved in the clean up work there, like Save the Children .

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