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Best NAS hard drives 2022: Reliable storage for Synology

Synology DS218
(Image credit: Windows Central)

Choosing the best hard drives for your network-attached storage (NAS) is incredibly important. Western Digital and Seagate are the two giants for storage, and both companies offer an almost identical offering specifically designed with servers in mind. This makes it easy to select the right drive(s) for your NAS.

Seagate IronWolf

(Image credit: Future)

Seagate IronWolf

The best overall hard drive designed for NAS

Specifications

Capacity: 1TB - 14TB
Bays: Up to 8
Speed: Up to 240MB/s
Workload: 180TB/yr
Warranty: 3 years

The Seagate IronWolf series is the company's solution for NAS setups, rivaling the Western Digital Red, but with faster speeds available. Like AgileArray, similar technology is implemented to offer enhanced performance and reliability over desktop drives, and these units can be installed in boxes that support up to eight bays. IronWolf Pro is the next step up with slightly more expensive drives but increased supported bays, workload rates, and a limited warranty.

Most importantly, these drives can be run 24/7 without shutdown. The IronWolf family of NAS hard drives come in 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 10TB, 12TB, 14TB, and 16TB versions and with three-year warranties. Do note that only configurations of 4TB and above sport rotational vibration sensors. The 6TB and above models run at 7,200 RPM.

Hard driveMax baysSpeedWorkloadWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Seagate IronWolf 1TB8180MB/s180TB/yr3 years$55 (opens in new tab)$0.06
Seagate IronWolf 2TB8180MB/s180TB/yr3 years$80 (opens in new tab)$0.04
Seagate IronWolf 3TB8180MB/s180TB/yr3 years$95 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf 4TB8180MB/s180TB/yr3 years$83 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf 6TB8180MB/s180TB/yr3 years$139 (opens in new tab)$0.02
Seagate IronWolf 8TB8180MB/s180TB/yr3 years$185 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf 10TB8180MB/s180TB/yr3 years$220 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf 12TB8180MB/s180TB/yr3 years$230 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf 14TB8240MB/s180TB/yr3 years$443 (opens in new tab)$0.03

Western Digital Red

(Image credit: Source: Western Digital)

Western Digital Red Plus

A close runner-up NAS

Specifications

Capacity: 1TB - 14TB
Bays: Up to 8
Speed: Up to 210MB/s
Workload: 180TB/yr
Warranty: 3 years

Much like Seagate, WD has been making storage solutions for PCs for many years, and it offers reliable drives for any NAS. As with the Seagate drives, I recommend at least 4TB. WD's Red Plus hard drives are manufactured for NAS use and can be deployed in systems that support up to eight bays.

Backed by three-year limited warranties and a powerful brand in the storage market, WD drives are well known to be of top quality, and they last a long time. Red isn't the fastest hard drive series on the market, but using them in a RAID formation can make up for this. This particular series of drives comes in 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 10TB, 12TB, and 14TB versions.

Each drive comes with the company's NASware 3.0 for enhanced reliability and performance. It's also worth noting that WD doesn't ship any mounting brackets or screws with these drives. What makes WD drives appealing is that every capacity option has vibration protection, but if you need faster speeds (drives that run at 7,200 RPM), you will need to fork out more for the higher capacities or Red Pro series.

Hard driveMax baysSpeedWorkloadWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Western Digital Red Plus 1TB8150MB/s180TB/yr3 years$50 (opens in new tab)$0.06
Western Digital Red Plus 2TB8175MB/s180TB/yr3 years$60 (opens in new tab)$0.04
Western Digital Red Plus 3TB8175MB/s180TB/yr3 years$65 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Western Digital Red Plus 4TB8175MB/s180TB/yr3 years$70 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Western Digital Red Plus 6TB8175MB/s180TB/yr3 years$110 (opens in new tab)$0.02
Western Digital Red Plus 8TB8210MB/s180TB/yr3 years$209 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Western Digital Red Plus 10TB8215MB/s180TB/yr3 years$200 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Western Digital Red Plus 12TB8196MB/s180TB/yr3 years$225 (opens in new tab)$0.04
Western Digital Red Plus 14TB8210MB/s180TB/yr3 years$314 (opens in new tab)$0.03

Seagate Exos X

(Image credit: Source: Seagate)

Seagate Exos (1TB)

Best for serious storage

Specifications

Capacity: 1TB - 18TB
Bays: No limit
Speed: Up to 270MB/s
Workload: 550TB/yr
Warranty: 5 years

Seagate's Exos series is the company's enterprise range of hard drives. They're designed with helium inside for enhanced performance and reliability. The improved caching is great for big data applications, including Chia farming.

The 7E2 series takes you from 1TB up to 10TB, which is where the X16 and X18 families take over. The X18 can go all the way up to 18TB, which is more than enough for most home or small NAS enclosure setups. These drives come with a workload rate of 550TB per year and have a warranty of five years.

Hard driveMax baysSpeedWorkloadWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Seagate Exos 7E2 1TB~194MB/s550TB/yr5 years$70 (opens in new tab)$0.09
Seagate Exos 7E2 2TB~194MB/s550TB/yr5 years$145 (opens in new tab)$0.06
Seagate Exos 7E8 4TB~215MB/s550TB/yr5 years$149 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate Exos 7E8 6TB~226MB/s550TB/yr5 years$130 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate Exos 7E8 8TB~249MB/s550TB/yr5 years$175 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate Exos 7E8 10TB~249MB/s550TB/yr5 years$280 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate Exos X16 12TB~261MB/s550TB/yr5 years$250 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate Exos X16 14TB~261MB/s550TB/yr5 years$222 (opens in new tab)$0.02
Seagate Exos X16 16TB~261MB/s550TB/yr5 years$263 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate Exos X18 18TB~270MB/s550TB/yr5 years$297 (opens in new tab)$0.02

Seagate IronWolf Pro

(Image credit: Source: Seagate)

Seagate IronWolf Pro

Best for pros who need a more powerful NAS

Specifications

Capacity: 4TB - 18TB
Bays: Up to 24
Speed: 260MB/s
Workload: 300TB/yr
Warranty: 5 years

If you want the best of what Seagate has to offer in terms of NAS storage, have a look at the IronWolf Pro series. All the Pro drives spin at 7,200 RPM and can handle 250MB/s of sustained data transfer, with bursts of around 6Gb/s. There's also an extended five-year warranty and a 300TB per year workload limit. The Pro line of Seagate IronWolf drives also supports up to 24 bays.

Hard driveMax baysSpeedWorkloadWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Seagate IronWolf Pro 4TB24214MB/s300TB/yr5 years$120 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 8TB24214MB/s300TB/yr5 years$230 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 10TB24214MB/s300TB/yr5 years$270 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 12TB24250MB/s300TB/yr5 years$290 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 14TB24250MB/s300TB/yr5 years$336 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 16TB24250MB/s300TB/yr5 years$300 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 18TB24260MB/s300TB/yr5 years$350 (opens in new tab)$0.03

Western Digital Red Pro

(Image credit: Source: Western Digital)

Western Digital Red Pro

Another quality NAS option for pros

Specifications

Capacity: 2TB - 20TB
Bays: Up to 24
Speed: Up to 270MB/s
Workload: 300TB/yr
Warranty: 5 years

Western Digital's Red Pro range of drives is specifically designed for use with network storage. With support for up to a 300TB per year workload rate, these drives are reliable and capable with 7200 PRM motors. Other handy features you'd also find in Seagate's IronWolf Pro range include error recovery and anti-vibration tech.

They're backed by a five-year warranty and will be right at home inside an enclosure with up to 24 drive bays.

Hard driveMax baysSpeedWorkloadWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Western Digital Red Pro 2TB24164MB/s300TB/yr5 years$85 (opens in new tab)$0.05
Western Digital Red Pro 4TB24217MB/s300TB/yr5 years$110 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Western Digital Red Pro 6TB24238MB/s300TB/yr5 years$180 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Western Digital Red Pro 8TB24235MB/s300TB/yr5 years$225 (opens in new tab)$0.04
Western Digital Red Pro 10TB24265MB/s300TB/yr5 years$286 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Western Digital Red Pro 12TB24240MB/s300TB/yr5 years$308 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Western Digital Red Pro 14TB24255MB/s300TB/yr5 years$360 (opens in new tab)$0.04
Western Digital Red Pro 16TB24259MB/s300TB/yr5 years$375 (opens in new tab)$0.04
Western Digital Red Pro 18TB24272MB/s300TB/yr5 years$428 (opens in new tab)$0.04
Western Digital Red Pro 20TB24272MB/s300TB/yr5 years$400 (opens in new tab)$0.04

Synology SAT5200

(Image credit: Future)

Synology SAT5200

This best NAS SSD option is faster than hard drives

Specifications

Capacity: 480GB - 3.8TB
Bays: No limit
Speed: 530MB/s
Workload: 1.3 DWPD
Warranty: 5 years

Need even more performance for your NAS? You'll need an SSD. It's possible to use 2.5-inch drives that can be purchased from anywhere, but if you want something truly special for your server, I'd recommend looking at the Synology SAT5200. This range of SSD storage makes use of the 6GB/s SATA interface for read and write speeds of 530MB/s and 500MB/s, respectively.

SSDMax baysSpeedWorkloadWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Synology SAT5200 480GB~530MB/s1.3 DWPD5 years$250 (opens in new tab)$0.37
Synology SAT5200 960GB~530MB/s1.3 DWPD5 years$311 (opens in new tab)$0.18
Synology SAT5200 1.9TB~530MB/s1.3 DWPD5 years$662 (opens in new tab)$0.20
Synology SAT5200 3.8TB~530MB/s1.3 DWPD5 years$1,228 (opens in new tab)$0.32

Choosing the best NAS hard drives

Whether you go with Seagate, Western Digital, or another brand, it's always a good idea to pick up a hard drive designed for NAS use. All of the drives mentioned here fit that bill. While you can technically use a traditional desktop-class drive, I'd recommend against doing so. Desktop-class hard drives aren't designed to be operating continuously, and they're not backed by extended warranties, nor do they come with advanced protective features you find on NAS drives.

Seagate comes out slightly on top since Western Digital doesn't offer any 7,200 RPM drives unless you pay more for the Red Pro series. Everything else is pretty much identical between the two storage families. This extra speed found in higher capacity drives from Seagate means increased access speeds, which is essential for storing and loading files on your server — looking for hard drives to install into your NAS? Go with the Seagate IronWolf.

If you need even more performance, go with Seagate IronWolf Pro, which will provide 7,200 RPM motors that can allow for up to 250MB/s of sustained data transfer, with bursts of around 6Gb/s. Then you've got SSDs like Synology's SAT5200 range for ultimate performance. We've gone into detail on how to pick the right NAS to work with your Plex media server, and these drives will fit the bill perfectly. You may also want to check out our lists of the very best NAS for home and best NAS for Plex.

Rich Edmonds
Rich Edmonds

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.