HDD Market Outlook: Features, Benefits & Manufacturers

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Hard disk drives (HDDs), one of the most popular enterprise storage devices, logged 260.3 million unit sales in 2020. 

Though those numbers have dropped over the past 10 years, HDD capacity numbers have been growing. Hard drives have few competitors as storage mediums in terms of cost efficiency.

See below to learn all about the hard disk drive market and how companies are using HDDs:

The Hard Disk Drive Market

Hard Disk Drive Market

IDC expects international HDD petabyte shipments to grow at an 18.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2020-2025. 

Although the client HDD market will decrease in light of SSD attach rates, the pandemic has sparked rising demand for specific types of hard drives, like capacity-optimized ones, according to Edward Burns, hard disk drive and storage research director, IDC. Burns also cites the general worldwide demand for storage capacity to match rapidly increasing volumes of created data.

Horizon Technology paints a similar picture. Despite decreasing numbers of hard drive shipments, the storage capacity of shipments is actually increasing, as demand for additional storage skyrockets and manufacturers sell drives with larger storage volumes. HDD shipped capacity increased about 25% between 2018 and 2020, Horizon says.

Despite the rise in popularity of solid-state drives (SSDs), hard drives aren’t going anywhere. They meet demands for less expensive, high-capacity storage within data center environments. 

HDD Features

These are some of the key features of hard disk drives:

  • Magnetic plates, which are read and written by floating heads.
  • Three major HDD form factors: 3.5″, 2.5″, and 1.8″. The 2.5″ form factor is the most used and well-known in enterprise data centers. 
  • Offline backup capabilities. HDDs are non-volatile, or secondary, memory, and data stored on a hard drive will still be there when the device is attached to a computer. But when it is offline, it’s protected from ransomware and other threats.

Benefits of HDDs


Hard drives win the current capacity battle among storage mediums. 

“Capacity-enterprise HDDs (also called nearline HDDs) will continue to be the backbone of data centers and cloud infrastructure for generations to come as they offer the high capacity, reliability, and lower TCO in a proven solution for storing important information that enterprises depend on,” said Shannon Hames, a spokesperson at Western Digital. “The nearline HDD segment is the highest-growing market segment among HDDs.” 

Enterprises rely on hard drives in the midst of rapidly increasing storage demands, Hames said. 

“There’s simply no substitute that can deliver the TCO value at scale for data centers,” Hames  said. 

Not all enterprises or data center operations prioritize speed either. 

“Storage capacity is more important to some users than performance,” said Sarah Jameson, marketing director of Green Building Elements. “Although flash technology is rapidly evolving, consumers already have access to significantly larger SSDs. However, a single hard drive can still provide several terabytes of storage space, which solid-state devices cannot.”

Also Read: Backblaze report shows hard drive capacity and reliability increasing

Cost and Speed

Despite drops in SSD costs, hard drives are still cheaper overall where capacity is concerned.  

HDDs are attractive for enterprises that can’t yet invest enormous amounts of money in their storage mediums. 

“Solid-state drives still have a long way to go before becoming more affordable and capable of storing more data,” Jameson said.

“HDDs are significantly cheaper than other storage media, which increases their value and applicability for monetizing storage space,” said Morshed Alam, founder and editor of Savvy Programmer

“Lastly, they’re much faster than tape drives and optical disks at reading data off of different surfaces.”

HDD Use Cases

One of the most common uses for hard drives in enterprise environments is to be employed in conjunction with other storage and computing solutions. 

For instance, Racktop Systems’ BrickStor platform uses HDDs and SSDs in its ransomware detection and prevention solution.  Dell Technologies uses hard drives along with SSDs, network I/O controllers, CPUs, and memory in its EMC VSan Ready Nodes, which power cloud computing provider Rackspace’s private cloud. The nodes are built on Dell PowerEdge servers.

VSan Ready Nodes allowed Rackspace to deploy its global private cloud solution more quickly. 

“It’s like making a cake where a number of the ingredients are prepackaged and prebundled for you,” says Peter FitzGibbon,  GM and VP of VMware practice, Rackspace. “You’re not starting from scratch every time, so you get that cake onto the table faster.” 

Typically, Rackspace configures solutions for customers on bare-metal servers. But this time, they needed a speedier rollout. They also needed high reliability for providing cloud services to their clients, considering that they guarantee 99.99% API uptime and 100% network uptime. 

“Reliability is key for us in our ability to support our customers, and Dell PowerEdge servers are an extremely reliable platform that we can depend upon,” FitzGibbon says. 

Also Read: 5 HDD Industry Trends


  • Western Digital
  • Seagate
  • Toshiba
  • Dell
  • Hitachi

Also Read: Buying Guide for Enterprise Hard Drives

Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps is a staff writer for Enterprise Storage Forum and eSecurity Planet, where she covers data storage, cybersecurity and the top software and hardware solutions in the storage industry. She’s also written about containerization and data management. Previously, she wrote for Webopedia. Jenna has a bachelor's degree in writing and lives in middle Tennessee.

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