back to article Falling PC tide strands Seagate's disk drive boats. Will WDC follow?

Seagate has announced its latest quarterly results will be unexpectedly good but there will be employee bloodshed. Another 6,500 layoffs on top of the 1,600 announced in June will take place. WDC did say it was cutting 507 US staff in June but these are the tip of an expected iceberg, which will see thousands of positions …

  1. Craig 2

    As an irreverent side effect, I wonder if the spare "unused" storage capacity the planet is diminishing over time. Not too long ago, PCs & laptops were sold with terabyte (or more) hard drives, of which probably the average person used 10%. Now with tablets, phones etc with flash memory, I would imagine it's much more utilized. That's definitely true in my house anyway, I'm always removing photos / apps etc to free space.

    A great trick the HD industry pulled off was selling massive capacity that was probably never going to be used, a bit like 64GB Chinese USB memory sticks that have something like 1GB actual flash in them.

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Dunno about that, ever since my first 40MB Conner I never had a HDD that wasn't continuously lacking free space. Photos are one thing - depending on you megapixel count, quality settings, potential RAW usage and cataloguing software habits (which might store all 184234 edited versions along the original) - but if you're recording any videos these days (in HD, natch, unless you're a 4K nutenthusiast...) you're definitely going to appreciate space. Then even without resorting to shadier (albeit ubiquitous) media procurement methods, if you just try to legitimately backup your 200-ish strong DVD collection you gonna need all you can get - SSDs are an unknown notion in that game...

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: "spare "unused" storage capacity"

      Not to disagree with you on a general basis, but personally I have never felt that I had any unused disk capacity before I slotted in my first 3TB disk.

      The only reason I now have more than 20% unused space is because time has curtailed my disk needs - and I now have a NAS on which I can store over 5TB of data I was previously sticking in 3 different PCs over 14 (comparatively) tiny HDDs.

      Before that, I was continually having to free space up by destroying existing data (sometimes said data was given the luxury of a backup before deletion if it was important enough to me). It was a major nuisance, and the space-shuffling always annoyed me until I found a new, temporarily stable situation.

      Now I revel in seeing over 50% empty space in my partitions. I install new things without even thinking about disk space for a nanosecond. I am finally constraint-free. I am content.

      1. Craig 2

        Re: "spare "unused" storage capacity"

        Not to disagree generally back :) but... Reg readers are probably not in the "average" storage demographic. I'm thinking more of the thousands of laptops and business systems with huge drives and almost nothing on them. eg. companies with hundreds of PCs and a server. Each PC probably has 500gb or more in it with just an install of Windows/Office and nothing else because all the data is on the central storage.

        Personally, my drives are all usually 90% full but that's because I never delete anything, and just buy another bigger drive. :)

      2. pixl97

        Re: "spare "unused" storage capacity"

        If you're posting on The Reg you're probably part of the 1% that does fill hard drives. As for the other 99%, they, in general don't.

        It gets even worse for the drive spinners as business moves to SANs that both compress and deduplicate. VDI uses less disk space than ever. While I agree there are more files than ever before saved by businesses, dedupe is slashing the amount of space they take up.

      3. 404 Silver badge

        Re: "spare "unused" storage capacity"

        @ Pascal Monett

        Thanks!

        Had not looked in a bit, been busy not dying*, 52% Full! Moved about 5GB worth of pics/etc from recent phone xfer. I do feel better now.

        *TMI but don't care: don't know wtf, but this kid was down a week puking up anything anyone within two miles imagined, lost a shitload of weight (I don't recommend it as a dietary regimen)... Dr says 'Stress'... fuck that... This is why I have 500 fucking gallons of water for tropical fish. They calm me down after a day of wrestling midget porn infections on networks. ...stupid doctor...

  2. Tom 7 Silver badge

    OT but you started it

    why are those boats stranded in Aberystwyth harbour? I knew a girl from there but google doesnt seem to be helpful

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: OT but you started it

      The water goes in and out. Something about time and tide, apparently.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: OT but you started it

        Tide just leaves them beached - stranding is another matter

        1. Alan Mackenzie
          Boffin

          Re: OT but you started it

          "Strand" is the German word for beach (noun). The English verb "strand" might well originate from the notion of your boat being stuck on a beach at Aberystwyth harbour for lack of water (but I'm too lazy to investigate this).

          1. Dave Bell

            Re: OT but you started it

            "Strand" is more poetic English for beach, one of those antique words that hangs on in the fringes of an English vocabulary, but "stranded" and "beached" are distinct enough to be useful, and so remain. If you say a boat is "beached" it suggests something routine. The tide will rise and refloat it. A "beaching trolley" might be used for a seaplane or flying boat. "A "stranded" boat or ship is in trouble.

            I doubt all those smallish vessels in Aberystwyth are stranded.

  3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Welcome to a mature market

    5 years ago we changed drives because they were full.

    Today we change drives because they break.

    So any purchases are replacement only and (to make matter worse), replacement after the actual need has been well established so not bought with a lot of capacity to spare. On top of that a lot of the biggest capacity eaters - personal photos, videos, etc go straight to F***Book and do not linger around in 4-5 copies on the user's drives.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Welcome to a mature market

      We also appear to replace drives because they break quite a lot more.

      I have an old 750GB drive from some years ago which was starting to make the increasing clicking sound that used to indicate that it was a good time to consider a replacement. So I replaced it.

      Then the replacement had pretty serious problems with running increasingly slowly to the point of not being operable, so I replaced that only to have this replacement roll over and die more or less immediately. Fortunately I have seperate drives for the OS and data, otherwise the windows reloads would be pissing me off pretty severely.

      As it is, i've just given up and put the 750GB drive back in, on the basis that it seems likely to last longer in service than a new replacement will do. Roll on either smaller and more reliable HDD's again, or larger and cheaper SSD's. :/

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Welcome to a mature market

        Interestingly, I had the same experience with 1.44 floppies when they were on their way out (arguably still an unfinished process - look at your "save" icon in 99% of software even today): I solemnly swear back in the day they could survive everything up to and including an air crash (as long as you didn't fold them or keep them on speakers - but that wasn't much of an issue since nobody even had an Adlib let alone a SoundBlaster or *gasp* a Gravis Ultrasound, so speakers near PCs were Not Really A Thing). FFS, many even supported patiently torment by various fancy-formatting tools up to 2.88 or so, and kept on trucking! Towards the end though I would quite often write something out and immediately fail to read it back, without even removing the floppy... so yeah, maybe the HDD business is just following suit...

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Welcome to a mature market

          I bet you space cadets have a load of nested folders called "data from xxGb drive" , spanning the history of junk youve collected over the lifetimes of several drives :)

        2. dajames Silver badge

          Re: Welcome to a mature market

          ... 1.44 floppies ... could survive everything up to and including an air crash (as long as you didn't fold them or keep them on speakers ...

          1.2MB floppies (real floppies, rather than "stiffies") could survive a fold or two. I recall that on one occasion a colleague had prepared a software patch on a floppy and asked for it to be sent out to a customer. The departmental secretary had had no envelope large enough to hold it unfolded (and disk mailers were not "a thing" back then) so had folded it in half and used a normal envelope.

          The annoyed customer returned it with a sarky comment and asked for a replacement, but our backup copy was locked in a safe somewhere and wasn't easily accessible ... so we disk-copied the folded floppy onto a new one -- which worked just fine -- and sent that (unfolded, somehow).

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            floppy reliability?

            . 1.44 floppies ... could survive everything up to and including an air crash (as long as you didn't fold them or keep them on speakers ...

            whaaaaaat?

            There was only a 50% chance youd get any data back off one. I had to often mop up the tears when this happened . And it happed long into the years where floppy wasnt the only option . the usb stick years in fact

          2. aqk
            Holmes

            Re: Welcome to a foldable disk market!

            That story about the dumb secretary folding the floppy is an old one. I heard it ~30 years ago.

            So it was YOUR SECRETARY! I finally meet the legendary apocryphal IT man! But did your secretary ever try faxing the floppy disk to a customer? She must have! Unless that was another dumb blonde that I once knew back then... I believe she is in an old folks' home now, with most of these stories.

            Anyhow the 3½" disks are indeed floppies, once you take them out of their stiff cartridges, as I have done many a time, if only to physically destroy them.

  4. jason 7 Silver badge

    How about...

    ...dropping your prices say 15-20%

    Oh and putting the QA tolerances back up to pre-flood levels from a few years back?

    It's pretty rare for me to use more than 30% of a HDD/SSD. I've never wanted to become a digital packrat.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    STX stock price up 20% today

    After such bad outlook... go figure.

  6. RaidOne

    Ou sont les disks d'antan

    Up until about 5 years ago I had a good opinion about Seagate, and pretty good about WD. But after what these companies did to us after the flood I sworn to only buy SSDs, and that's what I did, and the rusting spindles manufacturers can go wherever they want and not come back.

    Actually I used to know Seagate quite well in the '90s, they were innovating and agile, but somehow in the last 10 years they grew too big and it seemed like only the latest quarter results matter, so again, good to know you HDD manufacturers. Pity about the job losses though, which never affect the real culprits.

  7. G R Goslin

    Is SSD really the reason?

    I must admit I don't understand the situation. The quality of HDD's does seem to have dropped, and would prompt a change to a more reliable medium. But, as far as I can see SSD's are still wincingly expensive and run somewhat lower in capacity. I currently run a Drobo FS, with five 4TB drives (16TB net) , nudging 80% capacity. I shudder to think how much that would cost me in SSD's

    1. pixl97

      Re: Is SSD really the reason?

      HDDs are the most reliable capacity medium at the moment. And honestly there is no reason to run a multi-terabyte NAS on SSD for the average user.

      That said, if you are using your NAS/SAN for both storing large files and doing a lot of random IO on small files, you should look at ZFS with an L2ARC. I use the FreeNAS distro for this, and the ssd acceleration really helps.

      > with five 4TB drives (16TB net)

      Sounds dangerous. Raid5 style systems shouldn't be implemented on larger disks due to the much larger chance of multi-disk read errors on full rebuilds. (and BeyondRaid is a type of raid5 unless you have the Pro unit)

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Is SSD really the reason?

      > SSDs are still wincingly expensive

      NewEgg is selling a PNY 960GB drive for US$200. I wouldn't wince at that.

  8. Dave Bell

    I have some old server hardware that supports hardware RAID.

    A decade ago, the individual drives were pretty small. Now it looks as though a mirrored drive pair is the way to go. And, while the individual drive components will be of higher quality, it's now one motor spinning one platter on one set of bearings, replacing a dozen or more drives that each need to be assembled and tested.

    I am not so sure that spinning rust will go away, but I can see how the balance between the different parts of the manufacturing process can have changed. And I also wonder if, on the time-scale of those graphs, there has been a significant change of drive capacity. It's possible (though a bit unlikely) that the average capacity per drive has risen by more than the number of drives shipped has fallen.

  9. ben_myers

    It's not just SSD speed!

    It's not just speed that sells SSDs. Especially in laptops and convertible tablet/laptops, SSDs are way more reliable. Just drop a laptop on its head while it is running, and the odds are good that there will be a hard drive crash. Not so good, you say? Well, any odds greater than 1 in a million are too high for my precious data, even if I do back it up every data. And to have laptop die because somebody nudged it during a sales presentation? Unacceptable.

    At least WD had the smarts to buy SanDisk, to transition itself into the SSD business.

    1. ManOnTheHill

      Re: It's not just SSD speed!

      It used to be true that a laptop drive couldn't take that kind of treatment, but most of them today will withstand 100G while operating. But your point that the SSD is more reliable in a more dynamic environment is a good one.

      Problem with SSDs taking over the storage world is that there isn't enough FAB capacity to replace all the rotating rust being built out there, at least not for the next 5-10 years (given current growth projections for storage and flash fabs coming on line). Look at the details of the numbers on rotating drives sold; total hard drive sales were around 500 Exabytes in 2015 (http://www.anandtech.com/show/10098/market-views-2015-hard-drive-shipments), with the average disk size increasing from 1TB in 2014 to 1.4 TB in 2015 - with the per-unit cost staying approximately the same. Probably not a huge monetary growth industry, but the growth in storage demand will keep HDDs in the market for quite a while.

      Total shipped SSD capacity in 2015 was somewhere around 40 Exabytes (hard to find trustable numbers on this), with the SSD penetration being primarily desktop/laptop (for all the reasons you suggest).

      SSDs are getting much greater adoption in enterprise (server) environments these days (density is one of the big reasons; there's talk about 30TB 2.5 inch SSDs before the end of 2017) but there still just isn't the fab capacity to replace rotating drives for all storage yet. Seagate is behind in this particular race to flash, and may be ageing out of the race as a consequence; WDC made a smart move in picking up SanDisk, now to see if they can leverage that to stay ahead of the game. (BTW, Samsung has something over 50% of the SSD market, and virtually none of the rotating disk market; arguably they made the best move to flash of all the HDD manufacturers).

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    more cap sold

    I think it is true that both drive mfrs sold MORE capacity but less drives.. especially because larger drives are now the norm. AFAIK data centres seem to use 2.5 drives and these receently jumped to 2tb and 4tb capacity.. Im happy with the cost/speed of HDD for bulk storage but the innovation in the market seems to have shut down.. its purely about capacity now , performance is all flash-based. 2tb samsung 850evo just released. is that the clock striking once?

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