by Jerry Townson 16. January 2014 18:25

The hard-drive industry has been eyeing helium since the 1970s, but no company was ever able to make it work because helium has a tendency to leak out of whatever container it’s placed inside (the same phenomenon that causes birthday balloons to droop a few days after a celebration). The result for a helium-filled hard drive is more serious: it will stop working. But with Western Digital HGST announcing in November that it had perfected a 6TB hard drive filled with helium, those days appear to be behind us.

The new HGST 6TB hard drive is comparable in physical form factor to the 4TB drives currently on the market. In fact, it’s 38% lighter and uses 23% less power. But in that space are seven platters instead of the typical five seen in a typical HGST Ultrastar 4TB drive, increasing storage capacity by 50% without commanding a corresponding increase in size. This makes the new 6TB drives a fantastic choice for anyone responsible for the administration of an enterprise server, NAS, or any other system that will be running or storing large amounts of data.

What does all this mean for the end user and what should you do about it?

The 6TB models are not being sold OEM to home computer users. They are intended for users of business, enterprise, and industrial computers, who will buy in bulk as part of a larger storage solution.

One possible scenario where helium-filled hard drives can benefit you: Your business is expanding faster than the room your company’s data is stored in and the terms of your lease won’t let you knock down a wall, so you simply don’t have the power to take on any more new business. If you’re in this situation, helium-filled hard drives are a godsend. Replacing every hard drive in your data center with 6TB helium drives will give you a bare minimum of 50% more breathing room for future expansion, probably more, and they’ll fit into your existing 4U rackmount chassis. As always, you can contact us with questions about your specific situation.