It's no secret that the cost of storage is dropping — compare the price of the last hard drive you bought with your first for a quick primer on just how much they're dropping by. There was a time when a gigabyte seemed like more than enough for a laptop, whereas now anything less than a terabyte would run the risk of becoming outdated rather quickly.
The cost of a typical hard drive has been dropping for years, but it's sometimes difficult to keep track of the decline. While the price of components and manufacturing might be dropping overall, the continued need for bigger and faster storage solutions makes matters more complicated. Advances are being made all the time, but to see their full scope, you have to compare apples to apples. A 500GB drive from 2015 would cost much less than the same brand's 500GB hard drive from 2010, but even then there's considerations like speed and compatibility that might prevent a clear conclusion.
That said, the reason physical drives are getting less expensive is because they're cheaper to produce. Growing file sizes for commonly used media like high quality photographs, high definition video and the latest video games are prompting consumers to invest in higher capacity storage solutions; manufacturers are happy to satisfy that demand to the best of their abilities. What's less immediately obvious is the reason behind the falling costs of more intangible storage.
It's sometimes easy to forget that even files that are in the cloud require some form of physical storage. They may not be on your computer, but they do reside on a server somewhere in the world — wherever that may be. The costs associated with purchasing those servers, their upkeep and their connection to the Internet are subject to the same market tendencies as a hard drive you could buy from any number of websites. However, competition factors into the pricing of cloud storage as much as anything else.
The cloud may have been around for years as a tech buzzword, but it remains in its infancy as a commercial product. Businesses taking advantage of cloud storage can still consider themselves early adopters compared to the masses — but that won't remain the case for long. Cloud storage providers are looking to expand their reach beyond tech-savvy clients, and to do that they're offering enticing price points to convince the majority. As more of the masses move to cloud-based solutions, this is the perfect time for providers to establish themselves as market leaders.
As with any emerging industry, things are very competitive — but there are huge rewards on the table for successful businesses. The question is, how low can storage prices fall? While the only way to answer that is by observing the market, it can't drop to nothing because someone is always going to have to pay for that storage at some point. Now is a great time to test out different providers to see what sort of service they provide, but expect that prices can't continue to fall forever. Free cloud storage is only ever going to be a sample — at the end of the day, you still get what you pay for.
Why Does the Price of Storage Keep Decreasing?
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