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When to Buy Refurbished vs. New Storage

Today the average person creates 1.7MB of data per second. In fact, data is growing so rapidly that IT budgets for storage devices struggle to keep up. Currently, storage accounts for 10% of IT budgets, which sometimes is just not enough. Small and medium-sized businesses must secure as much capacity as possible within their limited budgets, typically in the form of hard drives and the arrays that hold them. Companies should consider purchasing refurbished storage devices, which costs considerably less than new devices. However, refurbished storage is not appropriate for every scenario.

New Storage

Use Case

Many OEMs only provide updates for storage equipment if it was purchased new and sold to the customer directly. Since outdated firmware and patches could pose serious performance and security risks, companies should always purchase new storage when access to data is mission-critical and availability cannot be hampered. Also if your business deals with proprietary information that is highly confidential, new storage systems most definitely should be used for that data’s storage.


Managing an OEM relationship takes considerable time and effort, so companies typically only have a single OEM relationship per hardware category (servers, storage, network gear, etc.). Therefore, when purchasing new gear directly from an OEM, a company is probably forgoing the ability to customize their storage arrays with hard drives from other vendors. OEMs also tend to maintain just-in-time supply chains which means they often have longer than desired lead times when new hard drives and arrays are needed. Additionally, when support or replacements are needed, they typically only offer a standard warranty that may be shorter than preferred.


When it comes to cost, the price for new storage equipment including hard drives and the arrays that accommodate them can be significantly more than refurbished versions. For the cost of a single new storage array filled with new hard drives, it’s highly likely that a small business could purchase redundant arrays with the same storage capacity. Generally, enterprises with large IT budgets are better positioned to procure new hard drives for more applications than small and medium-sized businesses.

Refurbished Storage

Use Case

While mission-critical and confidential data should be secured on new storage, information that is not sensitive and/or does not need to be accessed as frequently can be stored on refurbished storage systems. Also, a small business could always purchase multiple refurbished hard drives to accommodate data replication to mitigate any perceived risk of utilizing refurbished equipment. Professional refurbishers are able to not only wipe storage equipment clean but optimize it so its performance matches or exceeds new models from OEMs.


Not all OEMs sell refurbished storage arrays or hard drives. When that’s the case, companies must purchase reconditioned versions from a professional refurbisher. These vendors typically carry refurbished supplies from multiple OEMs, which allow businesses to purchase an array from one OEM and equip it with hard drives from other OEMs. Ideally, a small business would select the makes and models that best-fit each application.


It’s often worth waiting to purchase a unit until the next generation is released because prices will typically fall significantly for refurbished versions of the previous generation. For thrifty IT professionals, it often makes sense to procure refurbished storage arrays a few generations behind to stretch storage budgets and deliver as much capacity as possible.

Customer Service

Professional refurbishers often provide customer service that’s superior to the care delivered by OEMs. Not only does a refurbisher frequently offer more hands-on support, but their warranties are also often available for longer stretches of time than those offered by the OEM.

Going Green

If your company’s priority is to minimize e-waste, purchasing refurbished storage gives what would be an otherwise discarded device a new life. After all, the amount of worldwide e-waste is expected to exceed 50 million tons in 2020, with annual growth between 4% and 5%.


Since OEMs do not always provide firmware and security patches for refurbished devices and failing to update hard drives poses risk, it’s prudent for companies to store confidential and mission-critical information on new storage equipment. For data that is not as sensitive, companies ought to purchase reconditioned systems and hard drives from professional refurbishers. Ancillary benefits of procuring refurbished storage include the ability to mix and match hard drives from different brands within a storage array, superior customer service, and longer warranties. Knowing what types of data your business accrues and defining what is mission-critical will help you decide if a new or refurbished storage option will be best for your business.

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