What does it cost now to store 1 Terabyte of information? What would it have costs in the past? What is the optimal size hard drive available today?

10 Terabyte hard drives are beginning to be sold on Amazon.com. It seems to me that the average genealogists would not likely fill up a ten Terabyte hard drive in an entire lifetime unless they were collectors of movies and books and music to a marked degree. The push for larger and larger capacity hard drives comes from gamers and others with voracious data appetites. Of course, as is illustrated above, the server farms that support the internet also gobble up huge numbers of hard drives. For example, an online backup service might need to purchase thousands of hard drives every year.

Over the past few years, the cost of hard drive storage has fallen from around $500,000 per gigabyte in 1981 to less than $0.03 today. See “Hard Drive Cost Per Gigabyte.” At the 1981 price of memory, a 1 Terabyte hard drive would have cost $500 million dollars. Actually, the technology did not exist to manufacture a 1 Terabyte hard drive. Likewise in 1981, a 10 Terabyte hard drive would have cost (assuming its existence) $5 billion. So today, a 10 Terabyte hard drive costs about $400 or about $40 per Terabyte. If we compare that with 8 Terabyte hard drives, the cost drops to $170 or about $21.25 a Terabyte. A 4 Terabyte hard drive is currently selling for about $100 or $25 a Terabyte. From this, the least expensive hard drive looking at the cost per Terabyte is the 4 Terabyte drive but not by much.

If you look at the overall numbers, you can see the dramatic impact of the advances in technology encapsulated in the cost of hard drive storage; from millions of dollars to less than a hundred. I think there are few better examples of the need that we have to back up our data. The cost of backing up everything we do on a computer is ridiculously small compared to the time it would take to recreate lost files and information.



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