I recently decided to upgrade the drives. Netgear has a ReadyNAS Compatibility Guide which lists specifically tested and recommended drives to use with each of the ReadyNAS products. I knew that I wanted 1TB drives, which seemed from limited research to be a fairly good spot in the market. That left me with 11 drives to choose from, which seemed like alot of work to research and price compare. I researched a few on Amazon and bought my first drive for around $145.
For the other 3, I decided to try a different approach mostly as an experiment. I created an account on Mechanical Turk and asked 3 workers to find me the lowest price they could on any of these drives. I charged the task out at $3/worker and since there was no clear success criteria, I promised in the task description to give a $10 bonus to whichever worker found the cheapest price. I mentioned that coupon codes, discounts, and rebates were all fair game, but not to worry about shipping/taxes to keep it simple. I only cared about price: performance didn't matter much since it was a NAS drive. Total cost = $3 x 3 + 0.30 x 3 (Amazon's fee) + $10 = $19.90.
Here are the results, about an hour later:
- Seagate Barracuda LP ST31000520AS at buy.co.uk for £68.02. I didn't specify US, my mistake. Still approved the work.
- Seagate Barracuda ST31000528AS at unistorage.com for $68.84. This worker actually listed lowest prices for every one of the drives. The $68.84 one was the cheapest before shipping/taxes. This worker got the bonus by a slim slim margin (see worker 3).
- Seagate Barracuda LP ST31000520AS at Newegg for $69.99. This drive ended up cheapest after shipping/taxes.
I think if I did it again, I'd be a little bit more specific about what I want (US retailer), maybe add shipping/tax to the mix, possibly ask for the 2-3 cheapest drives they could find so I have some choices. I'd also probably drop the task price to say $0.25 but add that any worker that gets within 10% of the lowest price worker will also earn a $3-5 bonus. I suspect that the ability to earn $3 for a few quick pricegrabber searches might make sticking around and spending more time doing research less enticing. Still the results weren't that bad with my first try, enough to make me wonder what else I could use the turk workers for.