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You're Never More than 20 Feet Away from a Rat

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - February 4, 2008

If you substitute "hard drive" for "rat" in the headline above to get - You're Never More than 20 Feet Away from a Hard Drive - you'll understand why the hard disk industry is having such a good time at the moment and why Western Digital's recently announced 46% hard drive revenue growth didn't prevent Seagate too having a double digit growth quarter.

When I started back in 1998 - the computer industry accounted for nearly every hard disk in use but it was clear that would change and in an article 6 years ago I said why (according to my simple analysis) I thought the entertainment market would eventually lead to the coming of the terabyte storage box in the home. That's becoming a commonplace reality today. (Some analysts such as Tom Coughlin, President of Coughlin Associates and events such as Storage Visions have been tracking that paradigm shift with more detailed predictions and reports if you need them.)

With hard disks now appearing in DVRs, cameras, music players, cars and even mobile phones - the mass storage market is no longer the zero sum game it once was. If manufacturer X sells more disks into the notebook PC market, it doesn't stop manufacturer Y selling more (very similar) disks into a new emerging market for entertainment gadgets.

Although we haven't yet reached the stage where you are no more than 20 feet away from a hard disk drive - we are getting very close. Not there yet in my home - because some of the entertainment delivery boxes run off wireless networks.

As to rats? - my own experience is that the 20 feet rule is often true.

I've got 2 "active" 4 year old cats who love eating rats - but prefer dining at home. As they have demolished all the stupid rats close to the house I often see them coming from as far as 2 fields away - with a little wriggling rodent. Then I hear the snap of the cat flap - followed by a familiar scurrying sound.

Rats are smart and often pretend to be dead - at which stage the cats lose interest - and I have to get involved. Or if the rat escapes me - I'll just shut the cats in the room for a few hours until they get hungry and rediscover it.

What's more disturbing is when (as in the movie Aliens) the scurrying sound comes from the ceiling above you.

In the coldest nights of winter the boldest of the local rats (which haven't yet had their heads chewed off) crawl up the outside walls and discover the joys of a living in the roof space. When you hear the scratching sounds above the ceiling at 4am - you may wish optimistically that it's a squirrel or bird which has got lost - but you know deep down that it's rats. That's when the bad dreams begin. From the practical point of view - they sometimes go away - and you don't hear from them again. But if I hear them 2 nights running then I set a few packs of rat poison - and the problem is solved for another year.

Last week I spent a couple of days in the roof space as I was improving the insulation. The typical rat runs of past residents were evident in many places.
hard disk drives As to the Byte family rodents... Megabyte says he's not a rat but a mouse. I don't want to upset him (and he doesn't read my columns so he may not find out) but that tail design was modeled on a big fat rat which used to hang around the chickens back in the summer he was born.
see also:- comparing the SSD market today to earlier tech disruptions

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