Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Back to the future - from massive hard drives to flash memory

Those of you who browse for MP3 player and camcorders would have figured that in-built hard drive memory is becoming scarcer and scarcer. You can find only a handful of devices with 100 GB+ memory and newer launches (for example Sony's Handycam range) pass up a hard drive in favor of external SD Card storage.  Bad news, if like me, you are a hoarder and want to carry everything on board at one go. But the good news is that flash memory is getting cheaper.

We first saw the trend in high end phones which carry at least 16GB on board flash memory. Now, even 32 GB memory cards are priced at an easy Rs. 1000 on Flipkart and if you check on eBay I am sure you will find it even cheaper. And with ultrabooks setting a benchmark of affordable notebooks with flash memory, it's only a matter of time before the price of flash memory (and the amount of available storage) drops even further.

There are many advantages of flash memory over hard drive - faster read/write speeds, longer life, less battery consumption and less chances of data corruption. However, I still prefer HDD memory simply because we have been spoilt in the interim by massive storage capacity at cheap price. Also, devices are not becoming cheaper just because they use flash memory, and you have to account for extra expenditure to buy SD cards.

The other day, a colleague and I were chatting about the era when our IBM Think Pads had only 20 GB of hard drive  (this was in 2004) and how we were excited when our office issued new laptops with 40 GB memory! Nowadays, we take 160 GB for granted even on low priced netbooks.

Interesting to see how industry trends are driving us back to compact storage. But there is a difference - we are clearly being pushed towards cloud storage as a future option though it is yet to take off in a big way.

So if you are a hoarder, my advice is to buy up those devices with HD space. I'm betting you will see less and less of them in the future.