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back to article Hard drive sales to see double-digit dive this year

Hard drive sales will take a nose drive in 2013, according to a report by the market analysts at IHS. "Facing a relentless onslaught from tablets, smartphones and solid state drives (SSD), global hard disk drive (HDD) market revenue in 2013 will decline by about 12 percent this year," IHS reported in an email on Monday …

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Great!

Ever since the last big independent manufacturer was bought 2-3 years ago, there has been an oligopoly. The prices are too high, much higher than earlier. Earlier prices went down very fast, but now the prices have not yet recovered from the flooding in Thailand, the prices are actually higher than before the flooding. Some years later.

So I think it is good that sales are diving. Then maybe the oligopoly will understand that they should lower the prices so we can start buying disks again. I planned to buy 3TB disks years ago, but prices skyrocketed and are still not low. When prices lowers back to where we were before the flooding, people will start buying disks again. I will. Not until then.

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Linux

Re: Great!

Not only do we have price stagnation but we also have capacity stagnation. 4TB drives have lingered on the edge of being commonly available for quite some time now and newer and larger drives haven't been introduced. I would like to move on to the next step up in terms of capacity but it doesn't seem to be coming. I really wonder if I will be replacing my latest batch of drives with more of the same capacity once those get too old to be trusted anymore.

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Re: Great!

What do you consider low ? I don't follow pricing of consumer disks, so just curious. I had heard some folks comment that the prices had come down to pre flood levels in a lot of cases but I don't remember what the avg prices were.

I checked an old invoice from 7/2010 (pre flood I believe) for a 2TB WD RE4-GP drive which was $275/ea. I don't think the drive is manufactured any more, newegg has a similar 2TB WD RE4 drive for $224 at the moment.

I saw one other price I have, post flood. a 750GB Seagate Momentus XT hybrid drive for $175 from Newegg on March 18th of last year - now same drive is $130.

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Re: Great!

I'm not so optimistic... as profit margins get lower, so does manufacturing quality. Mechanical hard disks are atrocious these days. I'm buying the more expensive Western Digital Caviar Black drives and having higher failure rates than Maxtor rubbish 10 years ago. I personally had 3 of those drives (of different sizes) fail all around the same time. One of them wasn't in use, it was disconnected, storing data. I went to use it to rescue some files and it had bad sectors (i/o errors). This simply means that the magnetic surfaces of the drives were all coated with the same shoddy materials, that degraded in the same time frame. It's not a bizarre coincidence like one might think. I used to think that having my data on multiple hard disks was safe, thinking 2 hard drives aren't going to fail at the same time. Guess what?

I don't care if the drives are cheap and have long warranties, people can never get back their wasted time (and money... I still have to charge labour to replace failed hard disks for customers, it's no fault of mine that the goods were shoddy and I'm not holding the bag)

Back when hard disks were expensive the quality was better.

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FAIL

Re: Great!

Maybe. Could also be the electronics flaking out. Could be the R/W head corroding. Could be the PCBs corroding. Maybe the cleaning lady was dusting with ammonia nearby. Or your printed pumped out too much ozone. I'm not sure all the RoHS problems have been fixed yet either. Who knows, maybe the casing metal was slightly radioactive...

I recently opened a WD disk which failed "just like that" (SMART indicated no failures, no reallocated sectors, just the SMART tests failing and the controller regularly reset the disk). I was somewhat amazed how small the read-write heads are nowadays. The interior has also been perfectly pared down compared to stuff of 5-10 years ago. Very cool. Very subject to random problems.

"FAIL" icon, evidently.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Great!

"So I think it is good that sales are diving. Then maybe the oligopoly will understand that they should lower the prices so we can start buying disks again."

then again, maybe not, and the oligopoly will _increase_ the prices further, to make up the loss, as they have, since the flooding.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Great!

Give over, 3TB drives are available for less than 80 quid ex.

What do you want - them given away in a cracker?

If that's too expensive for you, I put it to you that you don't need the storage anyway. If you're happy juggling stuff around on smaller drives, or you're purposefully reducing what you store to save a measly 80 quid, then crack on. I meanwhile will continue adding 3TB disks to my nas boxen and having all the storage I need :-D

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Strange, I never stopped using'em.

My response to the idea of getting rid of optical drives? No.

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Linux

Re: Strange, I never stopped using'em.

Your "play anywhere" content has to come from somewhere and the Cloud centric conventional channels aren't providing it. If you want choices beyond the iPad and Kindle, optical disks aren't going anywhere.

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Linux

Re: Strange, I never stopped using'em.

"My response to the idea of getting rid of optical drives? No."

You're not a Windows user by any chance?

Use BSD/Linux here and don't think I've used optical media for sometime now as I always installed from USB media as it's smaller and, a heck of a lot quicker to install a distro from.

The only time I may needed to have used a CD for install would be on an old pre-USB bootable machine. None of my PC's have optical now...

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@southpacificpom

"You're not a Windows user by any chance?"

Windows 7 and 8 both support installation from usb stick. Not sure about Vista (and not willing to experiment!).

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Re: Strange, I never stopped using'em.

Streaming media... Have these people looked at the load that it putting on the internet? They're looking from a rather privileged position, in terms of their access to high speed, reliable, data transfer.

Yes, you can have it if you can pay for it. We're in a world where more and more people have less and less income. There's a clash between the growing need for internet access, and the total cost.

My connection, the actual wire coming through the house wall, would take a couple of hundred hours to download the equivalent of a Blu-Ray disk, running full speed all the time. At busy times of day, I get a quarter of that across the ISP's network. The streaming vid can use more recent compression standards, and there are other improvements, but the Royal Mail is faster at delivering data. They can even deliver more than one padded envelope at a time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Strange, I never stopped using'em.

ref. padded envelope: don't forget duplication, for they lose one for each one delivered.

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Re: Strange, I never stopped using'em.

@Dave "more and more people have less and less income". Can you quote a source for that?

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Facepalm

Death of optical

I seriously doubt the death of optical storage. Just looking at the amount of DVD amd BD media I have around my house. It's crazy to think that it will go away. Also for a cheap archival medium, you can't do much better than less than $0.05/Gb

Sure, ultra books or tablets don't have the drives but laptops, desktops and servers will still need them for years to come

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Re: Death of optical

I can see them being removed from built in, being relegated to a USB. Around here it's already there, for the most part.

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Linux

Re: Death of optical

A USB drive is much easier to replace once you've worn it out. You don't have to crack the case or anything.

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Re: Death of optical

Not to mention that if you have a DVD drive that works reliably, you should cherish it.

Server-mounted optical drive fail when you need them or for some reason refuse to read the disk, I have discovered.

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Angel

Re: Death of optical

I can see USB optical drives as a benefit, definately easier to replace a USB than cracking the case.

I can also imagine Apple removing the optical drives, charging $0 less for the privelige and then making an Apple branded USB drive and charging a.shit-tonne for it because it's got an Apple logo on it

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@JEDIDIAH

You obviously don't contract for the DoD, and more government agencies will go that way: No USB drives allowed because they're a prime vector for malware.

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Re: Death of optical

Where you been? Apple removed optical drives from their laptops a while back.

Any standard USB optical drive works. No big deal. I have a Samsung drive although the laptop and drive keep on threatening to take each other to court.

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Linux

Re: @JEDIDIAH

You obviously don't contract for them either.

Otherwise you wouldn't be fixating on the tip of the iceberg there.

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SSD vs HDD per unit capacity

Whilst the price per unit argument for HDDs holds up, I'm not sure the capacity per unit one does. There is this 4TB unit which fits a standard 3.5" form factor.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/5322/oczs-4tb-35-chiron-ssd

Aslo bear in mind that "standard" SSD units tend to be 2.5" (or smaller). There is this 2TB 2.5" SSD reported, the same capacity as the largest HDDs in the same form factor (indeed the 2TB HDDs are 12.5mm thick vs the 9.5mm reported for the SSD).

http://www.engadget.com/2013/01/15/foremay-claims-to-have-the-first-2tb-2-5-inch-ssds/

If you can get 4TB in a standard 3.5" enclosure and 2TB into 2.5", then data density is not going to be the deciding factor for HDD. It's also likely that there is more scope for increasing data density on SSD than there is with HDD given the relative rate of development.

The reason that large capacity SSDs are thin on the ground is probably more a matter of cost (and consequent demand) rather than the technical ability to do it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: SSD vs HDD per unit capacity

I think at those sizes the important factor is cost rather than size.

As a 250GB SSD costs the same as a 3TB HD and a 3TB SSD costs ??

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Re: rather than the technical ability to do it.

If you think that, you haven't been keeping up on your technical reading here on El Reg. SSDs are starting to run into indexing limits. They run fast at low storage densities because the current solutions work faster at those densities. Start bumping it up much above where they are and they start to slow down to HDD speeds. Bump it to current HDD max levels, and the SDD actually performs worse. Yeah, at some point there will be a breakthrough that fixes it. But at some point there will also be a breakthrough which bumps up HDD density. If HDD vendors maintain quality instead of cutting corners to make up for lost profits, they still have better lifetimes than SDDs, which are another factor for servers and desktops.

Yes SDDs make sense on laptops, db farms, and home gaming systems where speed is the uber-critical factor, but for big active storage, magnetic is still king.

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Re: rather than the technical ability to do it.

@Tom 13

You might like to support your point by providing some references, especially as you claim this has appeared in The Register.

If it's Windows indexing that you are referring to, then there are some sites that suggest turning it off on SSDs to reduce the amount of write I/O (and hence prolong the drive performance), but there's precious little to suggest that SSD performance degrades to HDD levels (except, that some older firmware/controllers did have issues with degrading performance over time). That's also not an indexing limit per-se rather than an issue relevant to a particular platform.

As far as the fundamentals of HDD performance is concerned, then ever larger HDDs are condemned to very poorer performance per GB simply because capacity increases as to the (aereal) bit density whilst sequential throughput only increases to the square root of bit density. Worse, random access barely changes at all with increasing density. Indeed, for the very highest densities, spin speed has to be reduced in order to be able to read & write (especially) data reliably. The fastest (15K RPM) hard drives are limited to smaller capacities than slower drives. There is also very little prospect of any significant increase in spin speed due to limits being reached in available materials and excessive power consumption (albeit helium will help - a bit).

The HDD limitations are inherent. They are down to basic. In contrast, SSDs are not so confined as it is possible (at least in principle) to exploit more parallelism. Also, there is the possibility of SSDs based on non-flash devices (albeit that this is speculative - for the moment there is development possible in flash and controllers).

I should add that there are multi-TB SSDs available in the form of PCI-e cards with appropriate drivers. Those are most certainly sold on performance.

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Pint

'Just looking at the amount of DVD amd BD media I have around my house. It's crazy to think that it will go away'

Are all those CD's and DVD's of yours sat on top of of a pile of cassette tapes and vinyl?

'Sure, ultra books or tablets don't have the drives but laptops, desktops and servers will still need them for years to come'

The desktop is already dying and servers haven't needed them for some time. What actually walk down into the datacenter to put a cd in, you must be like walking!

Yeah and blue ray really took off didn't it? Optical will soon be gone and good riddance to it no more overladen shelves full of boxes gathering dust.

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"good riddance to [optical] no more overladen shelves full of boxes gathering dust."

With respect: if your personal preference for the death of optical comes about, what exactly will be the long-term stable, inexpensive, easily distributable and archival, high durability replacement?

Didn't think so. So, it looks like optical won't be going anywhere anytime soon regardless of any one person's, or group's, ideological bent.

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Anonymous Coward

Optical is here to stay... and the purists STILL use vinyl over CD's, and CD's over MP3... hell my car has a sound system designed to store CD's, but it stores them lossless, why? because its a high quality system, sure most people can't tell MP3 at 198Kbs from a cd, but on a decent system, you CAN tell...

It is the same with movies, sure a 2GB file MIGHT be HD, but not really.. I've played around with them, and I can't shrink movies much from Blu-ray and keep theHD quality... if I want full quality I still use a disk

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Linux

Coming full circle...

The only alternative to shelves of boxes gathering dust is lots of spinning rust.

Trusting "The Cloud" is just silly. I have music that predates MP3s being offered by Apple and I have video that predates that being offered by Apple and now they are being displaced by a new flavor of the month and there still isn't anything that's portable across all devices (no Vudu isn't it).

Any droning on about "my isn't that obsolete" needs to include a plausible answer to the question "What are you going to replace it with?".

My local stuff will still be usable when your current Cloud based fad is long gone.

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Facepalm

"Are all those CD's and DVD's of yours sat on top of of a pile of cassette tapes and vinyl?"

Umm, nope. I'm not that old, although as far as durable long term analog storage goes you can't beat vinyl. By now cassettes from that era would be muffled from the magnetic fields from the spooled tape bleeding together.

As has been said, the utopia of content downloads would be a win win for everyone but this is the real world and people don't have always on all-you-can-eat connections with megabits of bandwidth that is available 99.999% of the time. Until the day of ubiquous broadband for everyone worldwide there will always be a market for optical media.

As a side note, the reason Blu-Ray has largely failed to penetrate the market and render DVD obsolete is Sony's license fees and the high price of the media. 25gb of DVD-R is still WAY cheaper than a 25gb BD-R disk

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FAIL

Optical Drives Abandoned

Unlikely... How else are you going to easily install systems? will you get windows on a thumb drive?

How else can you get HD movies? streaming? that's a laugh, the quality is terrible! even the best quality DL's are poor compared to a blu-ray...

Until the price on a 32gb SD card hits something like 50p, Optical drives still have a lot to give us.. maybe not on Laptops & netbooks, but certainly on the desktop and for anything media based!

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Holmes

Re: Optical Drives Abandoned

Windows can now be installed via a USB thumb drive. Linux has had this for years :)

Blu-ray is a non-starter for most people now, been around for quite a while and has not made a very big impact. It will no doubt fade away as quietly as it was taken up by the masses.

"Until the price on a 32gb SD card hits something like 50p"

Wow, is the average cost for a CD just 1p - that's quite cheap. I know that I would buy a 32GB SD card or USB thumb drive anyday as, carrying 46 CD's (32GB's worth) around would be tiring.

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Re: Optical Drives Abandoned

46 CDs? No blu-ray discs. Even a very quick search on Amazon finds BD-R discs at less than a quid for a 25GB disc. I'd expect the costs of a mass-produced read-only disk (ignoring content cost) to be even lower. Optical disc does not always mean a CD.

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Re: Optical Drives Abandoned

USB is a non-starter in places worried about security. Optical will never die.

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FAIL

Re: Optical Drives Abandoned

"Optical will never die."

640k is enough for anyone.

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Facepalm

All part of the Windows 8 food chain?

So just now another thought on the double digit drop. Windows 8 has affected PC manufactures' sales negatively. All parts suppliers are part of that food chain. I wonder what amount of Hard Drive makers sales are just providing for PC Manufactures?

I wonder how PC Manufactures' suppliers all have been impacted by the "Windows 8 Effect".

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Holmes

Re: All part of the Windows 8 food chain?

Probably not as much as by the "Tablet Effect/Phone OS".

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Re: All part of the Windows 8 food chain?

A lot of sales, yes, but how many people are using them as a sole computer?

In terms of price, tablets and smart phones might have had a big effect on the netbook. Laptop computing might have become a usable alternative to a desktop machine for many people, And there could be good reasons not to have an optical drive on every machine in the office.

And how long has the desktop PC been around? Are we getting any visible benefit from the previous habits of regular upgrades. Does the extra power do anything we notice? Tablets are still in the bottom part of the usual sigmoid curve. Desktops are near the top. And the recession is making people with good existing hardware wonder whether they need to spend on a replacement.

I have a tablet, it does useful stuff.

I have a huge amount of unused hard drive space, internal and external. How would I expect to fill it? (Wild guess: a drop in HDD sales is a symptom of successful anti-piracy campaigns.)

This isn't simple, and by the time the figures get through one of these forecasting outfits and into the hands of the media they will have been simplified beyond all significance. The Register does a better job than most media outlets, but too many reporting channels can turn a couple of hundred thousand into four million without apparent embarrassment.

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Re: couple of hundred thousand into four million without apparent embarrassment.

Maybe, but what's catching the eye here is the "double digit drop" part of the story. I might buy an 8-9% drop, but not the double digit. SSD certainly is replacing some HDD. But mass storage needs are going up, not down, and that ultimately means HDD for reasonable access speed. Yes, I see hybrid systems where the OS and the computations run on SSD, but the big near line storage will still be HDD.

And the bit for optical drives dying is just completely over the top. Initially I was thinking about the really old opticals that competed directly with HDD in some segments (yes those pretty much are dead) but upon seeing the posts for CDs, DVDs, and BD... No that's not happening soon, probably not even within my lifetime. Sure, the plain CD drive will die, but the DVR/CDR and BDR/DVR/CDRs will fill that niche.

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I'll be dancing on the grave of optical drives, but I suspect the console market (Sony) will keep them going for a while longer :(

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Big Brother

Re: consoles

Don't bet on it. Sony wants to move to download only. That way they only sell licenses, kill the 2nd hand market (which they currently make NO money on) and have total control of the distribution.

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I like my optical media, and my vinyl. I've had enough large capacity hotswap drives k.i.a. to understand the value of a stored bluray data archive. 100 in a tub=2.5tb for 75 quid. Not so terrible. I gave up on individual cases for optical disks about 7 years ago, when I started making backup copies of everything worth saving. 1500 disks in tubs fit neatly in the space occupied by 120 standard dvd cases. Uncompressed audio and video is much easier on the brain's signal processing functions, and I see no reason to strain my poor noggin too much outside working hours. If you have reference speakers, you'll hear all the cruddy square waves and compression artefacts that intrude on the modern normalised to death mp3 mastering process. The compressed video equivalent is blocky pixellation and blurry motion. Fine if you like that kind of thing, but grim if you don't, and a waste of high end kit if you only use it for churning low bitrate garbage.

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Holmes

GREAT..............

With falling sales figures the only answer is to undercut your neighbour. As that hasn't happened yet i can only think of either a shortage of kids in workshops, or a price fixing regime amongst the players.

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Fools!

While some of you people are relying on cloud or other online services to purchase/view content and get ripped off on, I shall continue to import my cheap(as in half price cheap) and "ORIGINAL" Boxed pc/ps3 games from overseas!

I'll stick to my optical media for a while yet thank you very much. I buy quite a lot of stuff off Steam when they have sales, But other than that their prices just don't compete with a boxed game from online retailer somewhere on the other side of the globe!

Also I doubt the next gen consoles will be cloud only, Would be the biggest mistake in tech history at this point in time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fools!

Oh yeah? Well I'll keep using my custom conversion program to output the binary files to PUNCH CARDS and store them at the local storage facilities so it's stable for FAR longer than your pitiful plastic will be!

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Stop

"I'll be dancing on the grave of optical drives"

I'm glad you have such simple pleasures in life.

As someone who has seen the birth of this entire industry, I simply prefer the notion of choice. The computer/communications industry is, in my opinion, the most versatile industry on this planet. Today, you can buy almost any kind of form factor (PC, laptop, tablet, smartphone) to do what you want, you can install several different OSes on almost all of them, and you can use tools to access them and manipulate them that no one had dreamed of twenty years ago.

We are chock full of options when it comes to managing our data. We can store it on several different types of supports (magnetic, flash, optical, tape), we can bring it with us in at least three different form factors (optical, USB, external drive), and we can store it remotely to access it anywhere - as long as we have an Internet connection.

I am not for the death of any of these elements. I am pro choice. You like the cloud ? I wish you a stable and reliable connection, and no DRM hassles. I like having my data stored where I can access it and control it. Today, that means either tape or optical (no, I do not use magnetic as long-time storage, sorry, but you can).

The industry is big enough for all these and more. Do not diminish it by removing our ability to choose.

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Re: "I'll be dancing on the grave of optical drives"

Tape is magnetic...

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Re: "I'll be dancing on the grave of optical drives"

You misunderstand, I grew up with consoles that used far more reliable ROM than shitty plastic discs that like to delaminate and suffer from many other issues if not treated with kid gloves. I am not pro cloud.

We have large capacity flash memory cards and I personally have had a decent RAID6 card for the last 5 years at home.

So for me, the optical disc thing, particularly with game consoles was a huge step backwards.

One example, my son's Force Unleashed delaminated within 2 months and Microsoft wanted £20 to replace it.

So...give me back solid state ROM, please! I still have ROM cartridges from 'consoles' as far back as my ZX Spectrum that are in perfect working order! Where's my choice to have that?

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