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The surprising bit about hard drive shipments being down 35% in a year is that it's not by more

Hard Drive
(Image credit: Pixabay via manseok)
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It shouldn't come as much of a surprise to discover that the world is slowly moving away from hard drives. The latest report from Trendfocus has HDD shipments dropping by 31% in the last quarter to finish 35% down year-on-year. 

This drop isn't just in one particular area either, with enterprise, desktop, and laptop markets all seeing fewer HDDs ending up in machines. In case you're wondering though, it's laptops that have seen the biggest drop—down as much as 40% quarter on quarter (via Storage Newsletter (opens in new tab).)

Desktop PCs are lumped in with surveillance and retail, so it's hard to pick out how bad things really are for the future of hard drives in gaming desktops. Apparently though, just 13 million HDDs were sold in the last quarter. Desktop PCs include non-gaming machines as well, so our gaming systems with HDDs are probably a tiny fraction of the market.

Hard drives can't compete with SSDs in terms of straight performance, but they do still offer great value for money, with 1TB HDDs regularly available for around $40. SSDs are closing the gap, and this Prime Day we saw several speedy 1TB NVMe SSDs duck under the $100 barrier. SATA SSDs can often be had for as little as $80.

Hard drives aren't completely out for the count though. Recently we've had announcements of some ridiculous large capacities being squeezed into 3.5-inch hard drive enclosures. Western Digital announced its 22TB CMR hard drives alongside a 26TB UltraSMR model (opens in new tab) just this May. And while these are aimed at niche markets, it shows that the technology that helped make the PC what it is isn't quite ready to slink off just yet.

SSDs will keep getting cheaper and cheaper though, and that makes for a grim future for the hard drive market. While they'll potentially always have a place in enterprise, they could soon be phased out of all but the most budget of desktop and laptop PCs. 

Especially if Microsoft has its way with OEMs and phases out HDDs (opens in new tab).

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Alan has been writing about PC tech since before 3D graphics cards existed, and still vividly recalls having to fight with MS-DOS just to get games to load. He fondly remembers the killer combo of a Matrox Millenium and 3dfx Voodoo, and seeing Lara Croft in 3D for the first time. He's very glad hardware has advanced as much as it has though, and is particularly happy when putting the latest M.2 NVMe SSDs, AMD processors, and laptops through their paces. He has a long-lasting Magic: The Gathering obsession but limits this to MTG Arena these days.

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