Storage Trends 2023

It’s been 2 years since my last blog post about storage trends [1].

Minimum Storage <=2TB

In 2021 I stated that as MSY had 2TB disks for $72 and 2TB SSD for $245 it was barely worth considering a 2TB disk and anything less than 2TB wasn’t worth considering. Now for 2TB storage from MSY NVMe starts at $129, SATA SSD starts at $143, and hard disks start at $75. I guess that NVMe is slightly cheaper due to some combination of economies of scale for manufacture/sales and having less postage costs. It really doesn’t make sense to consider hard disks for storing 2TB or less.

For storage for a small system (PC or laptop) the cheapest storage device is $19 for a 128G SATA SSD. But it wouldn’t make sense to buy that when you can get a 256G SATA SSD for $22 or a 240G NVMe device for $23, saving $3 on storage wouldn’t make any sense. For 512G of storage the prices are $32 for NVMe and $33 for SATA SSD. For 1TB of storage the prices start at $68 for SATA SSD and $74 for NVMe. Probably for the vast majority of home users 1TB of SATA SSD or NVMe is the minimum storage capacity to consider, the $50 price difference isn’t much when considering the entire price of a PC or laptop and anything less than 1TB will run out quickly with modern use.

Larger Storage 4TB+

The price for 4TB of storage from MSY is NVMe starting at $349, SATA SSD starting at $369, and hard disks starting at $115. If you need 4TB of RAID-1 storage then it might be worth saving $470 and getting hard drives for a home user. For business use it wouldn’t make sense. Some laptops have two NVMe sockets so 8TB of storage (or 4TB of RAID-1) in a laptop would be interesting.

For 8TB of storage the MSY prices are SATA SSD for $739 and hard drives starting at $179. Probably hard drives are the best choice for most situations where there is a need to store 8TB or more of data. But the prices are low enough to make 8TB SSD something that can be considered for home use, it doesn’t seem that long ago that the 4TB hard drives I bought for my home server were almost that expensive.

Big Storage

MSY doesn’t have 8TB NVMe, such devices are on eBay for $1700 for regular M.2 NVMe and just under $1000 for U.2 (server hot-swap devices). So if you need more than 8TB of NVMe storage then probably buying a server with U.2 built in is the correct solution.

For home users who need more than 8TB of storage hard drives are a good solution. One issue is that the more affordable and larger drives use Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) which has some different performance characteristics for certain workloads. Apparently SMR performs badly for anything other than large file storage.

Why MSY?

I primarily used MSY prices for this post because they are a reliable local store that has a list of prices that is easy to read. For everything in this post I can get better prices by using eBay, the price comparison site [2], and the computing section of the OzBargain site that gamifies finding good prices [3]. But a good shopping strategy nowadays is to compare prices in a store to determine what items are in your price range and then shop around for price on the item you want. Checking all the different bargain sites for all these items would take much more time than I want to spend writing a blog post!


Hard drives don’t make sense for the vast majority of systems. Not for laptops, not for typical desktop PCs, and not for small business servers (say 8TB or less of RAID storage). Hard drives only make sense for dozens or hundreds of TB of storage and even then finding out how to deal with SMR issues is going to increase the pain of deployment. Maybe using a combination of SSD and hard drives to deal with the SMR issues is going to be a competitive advantage for NAS vendors in future.

NVMe looks like it’s on the way to being cheaper than SATA SSD. There is likely to be a good market for systems with NVMe as the only internal storage option.

The long term trend of systems without DVD drives and with maybe 2.5″ SATA devices but no 3.5″ SATA devices seems to lead to the GPU being the major part that needs to fit into a PC case that determines the overall size. Maybe there will be a new trend of GPUs connected to riser cards so they can be parallel to the motherboard for compact PCs.

For business desktop systems (IE low powered graphics hardware as it’s not for gaming) I expect that the trend will be towards NUC type devices which are already based around the M.2 as a storage device size.

3 comments to Storage Trends 2023

  • I don’t know for all HDD vendors, but at least for WD, the rules for CMR-vs-SMR are pretty clear. One really has to buy without any research in order to happen upon a SMR HDD by mistake, I think.

    Also, I’d love to move fully to SSDs (of whatever type), but HDDs are still, I think, best first level of backups. If you have TBs on SSD, you need 0.5-1 order of magnitude more backup space, so high digits or low tens of HDD for backups.

    It depends of course a lot on specific usage – just my 2c.

  • 2 months ago I posted on Mastodon about comparing prices of SSD and HDD and someone pointed out to me that the Seagate disk I was comparing was probably SMR and it took me about half an hour to discover that it was. Seagate seemed to be deliberately making it difficult to discover that fact. I had thought that one could just look at the spec page for a disk and if “SMR” wasn’t present then it wasn’t an SMR disk, but apparently not.

    Yes HDDs are generally good for backups. However it should be noted that not all data is equal for backups. For me the code I’m working on now doesn’t need much more backup than a BTRFS snapshot to cover the case where I do an accidental rm command. An entire failure of all storage in a system could lose me maybe a day’s work if both NVMe devices in my workstation fail or maybe a few hours work if the NVMe in my laptop fails and there’s no offline backup that can protect against that.

    My backups in the past have had full root fs images, but I’m going to move to just backing up /etc and /var/lib etc for offline storage and just keeping the full filesystem image on the online backups.

  • Ouch, I didn’t realise Seagate is doing this… WD used to do it, but I think more than five years ago, and since then the product lines are clearly split.

    As to backups, you are full right. Anything that is not media is easy to backup; I was indirectly thinking about media (pictures, videos), that is inneficient to backup using any/most types of delta encoding.

    Maybe I should just give up and store my picture library in the cloud, but I’m not yet at that level of trust :)