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Repairing computers are a better bet than buying computers – Hard drive shortage impact from Thailand flood

The March 2011 flooding in Thailand has more of an impact on the US than expected.  At first, it was deemed that 50% of the world’s hard drive factories, including Western Digital and Seagate, were water-bogged and out of commission.  That meant an immediate shortage for future hard drive orders on laptops, desktops, and servers.  Most major IT service companies, such as Dell and Apple have bought hard drives well in advance to meet computer orders.  But now, both companies among other major manufacturers are getting worried with their slimming inventories.

Here are a couple of examples.  If you want to buy an iMac, your order will take 3-5 days.  But, if you upgrade to a 2TB hard drive, you’ll be waiting 5-7 weeks!  With Dell computers, their Fast Ship orders are more like a Russian roulette game.  You don’t know if the hard drive specified is actually available, delaying the order.

The good news is that Western Digital has restarted production of its drives in another Thailand factory.  Just to give you the magnitude of Western Digital, or WD, it is the world’s largest hard drive manufacturer in terms of volume.  So, WD getting back on their feet is a positive step.  Unfortunately, WD and IT experts believe the lack of production overall will continue past Q1 of 2012.

What does this mean for the consumer?  If you can repair your computer versus buying one, do it!  Why?  Although sticker prices say one thing online for computers, the hard drive costs will bump up the rate at least $150 and up putting it out of a reasonable price range for most computers.  If you need to buy a computer, I recommend doing so in the store so you know you will be paying for the actual price without any hard drive and cost surprises.

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