Hard drive shipments drop by a third year over year

Tudor Cibean

Posts: 171   +11
The big picture: HDD shipments have been declining for the past decade, with consumers opting for flash-based storage more and more due to its significant speed and endurance improvements. Mobile devices benefit tremendously from the space and power savings SSDs offer, while the price per gigabyte has dropped substantially.

According to a new report by Trendfocus, worldwide HDD shipments dropped to approximately 45 million units in the second quarter, a 33 percent decline YoY. To put this into perspective, HDD vendors shipped over 650 million units in 2010, or about 162 million per quarter on average.

Demand for performance enterprise HDDs dipped slightly to around 2.5 million units as OEMs reportedly carried over inventory from the previous quarter. Continuing shortages for other components also hampered sales of HDD-equipped systems. Meanwhile, nearline hard drive shipments held essentially flat at about 19 million units for the quarter.

Vendor HDDs shipped (million units) QoQ change YoY change Market share
Seagate 19.80 – 20.60 -13.8 – -10.4% -29.7% – -26.9% 44%
Toshiba 8.00 – 8.60 -20.2% – -14.3% -42.8% – -38.5% 18%
WDC 16.50 – 17.30 -16.5% – -12.4% -34.6% – -31.4% 37%
Total 44.30 – 46.50 -16.0% – -11.9% -34.2% – -31.0%  

On the consumer side, the situation looks far bleaker. Total 3.5-inch desktop and consumer electronics HDD shipments fell by over 30 percent QoQ to roughly 13 million units. Trendfocus noted significantly weakened demand for the surveillance, PC, and retail segments.

The 2.5-inch HDD market saw the highest decline, with shipments plummeting 40 percent QoQ to about 11 million units. This should come as no surprise, considering that laptops nowadays almost exclusively ship with flash-based storage. Weakening demand in the retail sector also contributed massively to this reduction, with 2.5-inch consumer electronic shipments reportedly representing an insignificant fraction of the total as it only serves niche categories.

Chia (a cryptocurrency that people can farm by allocating unused disk space) sent HDD sales soaring about a year ago, no doubt contributing to the YoY drop we're seeing today.

In related news, Microsoft is reportedly pushing OEMs to use only SSDs for boot drives starting next year.

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Posts: 322   +265
As long manufacturers don't get how to increase speed substantially on hdds, the decline is expected and the market will be reserved for NAS / corporate services. All my computers have an SSD and hdds (2.5") are on the NAS / external. I even have external SSDs...

On my slowest SATA external SSD I get around 350 - 400 MBps versus around 150 MBps on my HDDs. My fastest external SSD (10 Gbps USB-C) achieved around 1 GBps. Not to mention they are "always" on, and my hdds sometimes they turn off and have to spin on which takes a couple of seconds to be ready again.


Posts: 4,546   +6,845
Considering how Windows continually access HDs for no reason, having a mechanical one is no longer a smart option unless you just needs tons of space on the cheap. (Yes, I've spent many hours trying to find workarounds to the excessive drive usage with no luck.) Furthermore, we've hit the point where the SSD chipsets are fast enough that its the OS, RAM or motherboard that's often becoming the bottleneck.

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,363   +8,581
I keep hoping the SSD's will come down to a more reasonable price but until they do, the old hard drives are still a good option.


Posts: 23   +11
It would be interesting to see capacity sold rather than units.

16 TB HDD have dropped in price precipitously it seems, even if most people/organizations don't need much more than 1 TB or 2 per machine (so SSDs make more sense).

Still the ratio of price between HDD and SSD seems to stay relatively constant.


Posts: 54   +73
As Momo56 mentioned, capacity rather than units would be a better measure. How many millions of terabytes were sold?

Also storage for personal use is so abundant that I see little need to constantly buy bigger or faster disks. I'm running 6 x 8TB in RAID6 on my NAS with 2 x 2TB RAID1 system. I have no need for anything but a small(ish) SSD on my PC(s). So I'm not buying nearly as many HDDs as I used to.

However, unless the price is on parity with HDDs, I see no reason to store data on SSDs on the NAS. I saturate the gigabit network for file copies (I'm not running new cable and replacing all my switches to go to 10GBe - money doesn't grow on trees, and going to 2.5GBe doesn't seem worth the effort either if Wi-Fi 6e/7 deliver on their promises), and streaming media doesn't take that much bandwidth either. For business with many simultaneous users, that's another story, but my NAS is idle 90% of time. Cloud backups are slow since Spectrum's uploads speeds are ****, so again HDDs are not a bottleneck there.

For consoles like a PS or XBox, cloud storage means I don't need ever increasing storage either. Who plays more than a handful of games at any given time anyway?

In general, I think the way we use storage is getting more efficient, making large capacities on all devices unnecessary. But they definitely serve a purpose - until SSDs at the same capacity are cheaper and more reliable.


Posts: 1,825   +980
I like how big hdds became.
I dont like how less reliable they became.
I feel like with size the reliability stayed the same or even worse.
I hoped for a long time that someone made this tech better, and much more reliable.

8600M GT

Posts: 48   +34
No surprise that laptop HDD sales are falling so rapidly. SSDs are cheaper at the low end and faster at the high end. The only two markets left are laptops that just focus on storage space and not speed - which Microsoft would like to see go away since it makes Windows seem slow - and laptops where there's a secondary 2.5" HDD shipped with an M2 SSD. That market is fairly small as it inherently doesn't include smaller laptops.

What surprises me is that you can't buy a hard drive larger than 2 TB that fits in a laptop. I was thinking earlier today that my ideal setup would be 2 TB M2 + 4 TB 2.5". Turns out the latter only exists with 15mm height. So if I want to maximize mobile storage space, I *have* to buy a 2.5" SSD.

/r/DataHoarder indicates this is due to physics and not being able to cram more data into that space with current technology. Which if so, is even more of a problem for 2.5" HDD viability. It can't win the high-capacity secondary drive market either, only the sorta-high-capacity-for-a-lower-cost market.


Posts: 105   +52
As others have pointed out, Capacity is the key selling point for HDD's and in my system, I have a 2TB NVME and a 1TB NVME both of which are not completely filled. The only reason I don't have anything large in an SSD is the cost.

The one thing that annoys me and Ropes my Goat is the cost of SSD's larger then 2TB. They're 2.5x+ more expensive for anything larger with some of the 4TB units being as high as 3x a 2TB model yet the performance simply isn't any better.