From all corners of the industry and from the national news, we’re seeing predictions that hard drives will start to be in short supply soon, if not already. This valuable resource which, in production, we generally take for granted, will see steep price rises in the near future due a variety of factors.

Digging in a bit more, there seems to be various reasons for this issue and it’s caused by a perfect storm of limited resources, politics, financial developments, environmental and pandemic issues.

First of all, the see-saw demand for semi-conductors over the last year due to the pandemic has meant that hard drives are not being manufactured in the same numbers by all the big suppliers. In addition, a new cryptocurrency ‘Chia’ which uses masses of consumer grade storage (banks of normal hard drives) rather than large GPU storage of Bitcoin mining, is taking up vast quantities of hard drives meant for retail market. The problem of drive shortage will only be exacerbated as the currency grows in popularity.

The ongoing trade war between the US and China has not helped matters as production is interrupted and manufactures move production facilities around the globe to avoid tariffs or import bans.

Environmental impacts are also playing a part. Taiwan, the world’s biggest supplier of semi-conductors is experiencing water shortages and drought, and this has further impacted production of an item that requires huge amounts of water to manufacture. Raw materials such as tin are also in short supply. Since the rise in demand for electronic goods during the pandemic, the price of tin reached an all time high and as this metal is used to solder in circuit boards, that means an increased cost of manufacturing. Myanmar is the world’s third largest producer of tin, and because of the unrest there, this has further exacerbated the issue.

All these factors have contributed to increasing prices for hard drives and supply issues and it’s a trend that will continue for the foreseeable future.

In our industry, we all need to make a concerted effort to move away from treating hard drives as a single use item. Using once on a shoot and then storing data on them for years is bad practice and bad for the environment and now it’s bad for your production budget. It’s like buying a new kettle each time you want to make a cup of tea! The resources and carbon footprint for these electronic items are large – 80% of which is used in their manufacture and shipping, so we need to make sure we use them for their intended lifespan of around five years of continual use.

At Film Locker we can store your data safely in a low carbon way, and clean and return your hard drives to use on the next project. Please drop us a line for more information.

Victoria Harvey is a practitioner member of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment and has a master’s degree in international development. She works with the broadcast and advertising production sectors to promote low carbon methodologies and practices in media through her role at Film Locker.


NAS Conpares April 2021

Digital Trends April 2021

The Guardian May 2021

PetaPixel May 2021

Times Feb 2021

Photo credit here