Controversial hard drive vendor breaks new record with cheapest HDD yet

A close-up of of a hard drive.
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Amazon sells a 12TB MaxDigitalData hard disk drive for under $90. Not only does it come with a full three-year warranty but you can also grab a 3-year data recovery plan from Amazon for a mere $14.99 and get it serviced by Seagate’s Rescue Data data recovery service should something bad happen to it. Remember that this is a renewed (i.e. used and refurbished) hard disk drive, not a new one.

At less than $7.50 per TB (unformatted capacity), this is the cheapest hard disk drive per TB we’ve managed to source and that’s cheaper than any optical media. In comparison, Blu-ray, for example, is about $16 per TB, more than twice the price of MaxDigitalData’s offering, when purchased in 25GB bulk BD-R spindles.

Now there’s a few things to highlight; MaxDigitalData (MDD) is not what you’d call a household name. It is not one of the three recognized hard disk drive vendors which would include Seagate, Western Digital and Toshiba. 

Instead, MDD - which is a white label brand owned by Goharddrive - sources stocks of what looks like new but EOL (end of line) hard disk drives as well as refurbished stock.

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MDD, like the popular EOL HDD vendor Water Panther, sells both refurbished and non-refurbished models so make sure you select the right one. Confusingly, there is another 12TB model from MaxDigitalData, the MD12TGSA25672DVR, that costs marginally more.

The MDD12TSATA25672DVR is likely to be a rebadged SATA-based Western Digital DC HC530 with a 7200RPM rotational speed, 256MB cache and a whopping 550TB/year 24x7 workload rating, making it ideal for DVR, CCTV, surveillance etc. 

This particular model have been a favorite for cloud storage providers as well as hyperscalers (think Facebook, Google, Microsoft or Amazon) and its enterprise label means that it is geared towards very long term reliability.

Should you want a more recognized brand, then the Seagate Barracuda ST80000DM04 is the next cheapest model at just under $110 for 8TB (under $14 per TB). This is a slower hard disk drive (5400RPM) with 256MB cache and a big name to back it.

Don’t forget the backup

No storage device is 100% secure, which is why backing up your data makes so much more sense, especially when we’re talking of terabytes of data. A Network Attached Storage (NAS) device with RAID capabilities can help mitigate existing risks of data loss, especially when paired with a cloud backup solution like iDrive, Internxt or BackBlaze

Why is MDD controversial?

Search for MaxDigitalData online and Reddit is your first result. Not what you’d expected from a hard disk drive manufacturer whose products will store your data. That said, the fact that it doesn’t have a website may raise some alarm but there’s enough safeguards (refund policy, warranty) to reassure us that if something goes bad, there will be an escape route. 

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.