western digital 6tb red

Western Digital's $299 6TB WD Red is a big hard drive for small(ish) budgets

Western Digital is shipping two new 6TB hard drives as it tries to make its highest-capacity storage products more affordable.

The WD Red hard drive is $299 and the WD Green will go for $279. The WD Red is designed for enterprises with more NAS (network attached storage) and error-correction features. WD Green has more sensors and controls for lower power consumption, making it applicable to consumer desktops.

The 6TB drives are designed for use in 3.5-inch enclosures in desktops and external storage systems.

The pricing “is really affordable” for that class of product, said Fang Zhang, storage analyst at IHS.

The first hard drives that shipped with 4TB capacity were relatively higher in price, in terms of dollars per terabyte, Zhang said.

WD’s HGST unit already ships a 6TB hard drive, the Ultrastar HE6, which is selling for $477 on Amazon. Seagate’s 6TB desktop hard drive is selling for $299.99 on Newegg and B&H Photo and Video.

The 6TB drives could increase the available capacity on WD’s external storage products. WD is qualifying the Red product for the My Cloud, the two-bay My Cloud EX2 and the four-bay My Cloud EX4 external storage systems. The 6TB drive could also be plugged into network-attached storage systems and external storage bays that can be bought for under $10.

The 6TB drive could appeal to workstation users, gamers and enterprises, but there is generally more of a preference for cheaper, lower-capacity drives, Zhang said.

In the first quarter of this year, a majority of desktop hard drives shipped with up to 2TB of capacity, with only around 2 percent shipping with 3TB or 4TB of storage, Zhang said.

Seagate could release a 8TB hard drive sometime next year, after which the price of 6TB drives could come down further, Zhang said.

“Everything with lower density will come down,” Zhang said.

Hard drives with 6TB capacity won’t be going into laptops anytime soon, Zhang said. Laptops are getting thinner, and turning to SSDs. Users are also increasingly attaching external hard drives, and storing data in the cloud as demonstrated by Chromebooks, Zhang said.

WD is also shipping a 5TB Red drive for $249.

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