Thailand reached crisis point earlier in October after three months of heavy monsoon rain has left vast swathes of the country flooded. Northern and central areas were worst hit initially but the run-off has now started draining south, threatening Bangkok and surrounding areas.
Seven major industrial estates on a scale unimaginable in the UK have been inundated by as much as 3m (10 feet) of water and it is estimated the water will not subside for at least a month.
One of the major HDD motor factories
Included in these industrial estates are the factories of major hard drive companies such as Western Digital, Seagate and their component suppliers. While hard drives are produced all around the world, Thailand is ranked as the 2nd largest producer of hard drives globally; responsible for over 25% of total drives made, so any disruption to their output has severe knock on effects on supply and demand in all regions including the UK.
The largest vendor in the country, Western Digital, has had to stop production while number two Seagate has said it is worried about a shortage of parts. Toshiba has also stopped production but said it would switch production to its Philippines plant.
PC maker Lenovo said that it was worried about hard drive supply once inventory is exhausted, which could cause shortages in the first quarter of 2012. Even IT behemoth Apple has issued a warning to its investors due to the severity of the situation.
"Lenovo is still assessing the full impact, but does anticipate some constraints on the availability of hard disk drives (HDDs) as a result of the flooding in Thailand," said a Lenovo statement emailed to journalists.
The knock on effect for the UK is a reduced amount of drives being available throughout the Christmas period. This has resulted in a lack of supply during the busiest period of the year; unfortunately pushing up prices.
Taking a 500GB hard drive as an example, 10 days ago CCL were able to buy and sell this capacity for around £29.98 inc VAT. As of the 28th October the pricing on these drives has exceeded £69.99 inc VAT which is a phenomenal and unprecedented increase in pricing.
2TB hard drives have close to tripled in price, while the ever popular 1TB range of drives are all now almost exclusively over £100 inc VAT each.
One of Western Digital's Thailand Factories
As supply is set to get worse during November and December, we at CCL can only see the pricing on hard drives increasing further and further. As the buyer for hard drives at CCL this is certainly a stressful time and easily the worst state I have seen the consumer market for storage in.
With pricing not set to decrease until well into 2012 there is no ideal time to buy a hard drive, with pricing this high you will struggle to see anyone at CCL pushing for a sale on them even if this is the pricing we are set to see for quite some time.
Our honest advice to customers is to buy hard drives only when you need to. Make sure your backups are still available to complete fully, you have enough space for all your data and programs. However it is certainly not the time to put another 1TB drive into your PC for future expansion.
Solid state drive pricing is remaining fairly flat, although it now offers far better value for money than in previous months making now the time to take the plunge on a lower capacity SSD for your operating system and most commonly used programs.
If anyone would like some honest advice on what drives are best to buy at the moment, or would like an introduction into Solid State Hard Drives, then please drop our sales team a call on 01274 471 201 and they will be happy to help.