With the appearance of IBM RAMAC in 1956, the hard drives have gone through a rapid development. Over the decades, hard drives have always being the workhorses of data storage. But in recent years, the solid state drive and cloud storage have taken away some market share. So people are curious: will cloud storage replace the hard drives?
Will Cloud Storage Replace Hard Drives
Hard disk drive is the electromechanical data storage device which stores and retrieves digital information though the rotating magnetic platters; it is actually the most important data storage device. But, you may find the glory days of disk drive are fading in recent years, due to the appearance of solid state drive, new type of flash memory devices, cloud storage (for example, OneDrive is a famous file hosting service & synchronization service provided by Microsoft), and other storage solutions.
Because of that, people start to worry about the future of hard drive industry. So will cloud storage replace hard drives in the near future? I think it's not certain yet.
Hard Drive Demand Is Still Large
According to statistics, the disk drive unit shipments gain a peak almost a decade ago (in 2010); that is to say, this number is decreasing these years. Yet, the good news is that the hard disk industry still shipped more than 375,000,000 hard drives in 2018 (equal to that in 2005).
To tell the truth, the solid state drive and cloud storage are two biggest enemies of hard drives.
Advantages of SSD over traditional hard disk drive are:
- Fast access time
- High reliability (SSD has no moving parts)
- Less power requirement
- No noise
- Small size
- Less heat
Advantages of cloud storage over traditional hard disk drive are:
- Strong usability
- Save bandwidth
- Flexible accessibility
- Cost saving
- Low risk of data loss
Though many people are attracted by these two kinds of new storage methods, hard drives still occupy a large market share. The reasons why hard drives are still popular:
- Price: one of the biggest advantages of hard disk drives is the price. The disk price is as low as 2 cents per gigabyte; yet, that value for SSDs is 25 cents per gigabyte. Usually, you can’t get free cloud storage.
- Performance: this may beyond many people’s expectations. But indeed, you can gain multiple gigabytes per second of bandwidth when transferring large files like movies. Taking the 2 cents per gigabyte price into account, I think it’s really high cost-effective.
- Capacity: generally, the capacity of hard drives is larger than that of SSDs and cloud storage. Even if you can own large capacity by getting SSD or cloud storage, you need to pay more.
- Cloud: more surprisingly, the development of cloud also drives the development of hard disks. Why? More than a million disks are needed in each massive data centers. Though you can also find SSDs in some of the data centers, but definitely, hard drives are more common since they are both economical and fast enough. That is actually cloud hard drive.
To see more details on physical storage vs. cloud storage, you should read this:
I’ll talk about Seagate’s cloud storage vs. physical storage briefly in this post; you can decide which is better for you.
Hard Disk for Cloud Storage
Actually, I have found more and more hard drives are provided with main functions of cloud. Thus, manufacturers focus more on producing external hard drive with cloud capabilities. If you are careful enough, you’ll find more and more hard disk drives are designed to provide extra cloud storage and backup options, for instance, WD My Cloud and Seagate Personal Cloud. That’s also another reason to keep hard drives alive.