Synology DS218+Source: Windows Central

Best Hard Drives for your NAS Windows Central 2019

Choosing the right 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. However, out of the two, we'd go with Seagate because of speeds for the price.

And if you need a hard drive for a newly purchase NAS, you'll be able to score a deal with Black Friday, which is just a few weeks away. Some of the drives included in this collection will likely be on sale for Black Friday, further reducing the overall cost of setting up your own home server. We're updating our buyer's guides to ensure we're offering the best buying advice, and our deals team is on red alert to pick up the best deals on NAS drives.

Best for NAS: Seagate IronWolf

Seagate IronWolfSource: Windows Central

The Seagate IronWolf series is the company's solution for NAS setups, rivaling the Western Digital Red, but with faster speeds and larger storage capacities available. Similar technology, named AgileArray, 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. Prices start at $60 for the 1TB capacity configuration but can cap out at more than $500. Do note that only configurations of 4TB and above sport rotational vibration sensors. The 6TB and above models run at 7,200 RPM.

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 5-year warranty and a 300TB per year workload limit. The Pro line of Seagate IronWolf drives also support up to 24 bays.

Pros:

  • Great value
  • Reliable
  • 6TB and up run at 7,200 RPM

Cons:

  • 5,400 RPM at lower sizes
  • Up to 8 bays

Best for NAS

Seagate IronWolf

Hard drives designed for NAS

Seagate has a substantial collection of drives that are specifically designed for use inside NAS. The higher capacity drives even have faster motors.

For NAS pros

Seagate IronWolf Pro

When you require a more powerful NAS

These drives are super-fast, packing in 7,200RPM motors that can allow for up to 250MB/s of sustained data transfer, with bursts of around 6Gb/s.

Runner-up: Western Digital Red

Western Digital RedSource: Western Digital

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 hard drives are manufactured for NAS use and can be deployed in systems that support up to eight bays. Backed by 3-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 and 10TB versions. Depending on just how much space you require, it's possible to pick one up for as little as $64 (1TB). 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 the fact 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 Red Pro series.

Pros:

  • Great value
  • Reliable
  • All have vibration sensors

Cons:

  • Up to 8 bays
  • All run at 5,400 RPM

Runner-up

Western Digital Red

Perfect hard drives for your NAS

Western Digital has been making storage solutions for PCs for many years, offering reliable but somewhat slower drives for your NAS.

For the pros

Western Digital Red Pro

When ordinary NAS drives just won't do

Western Digital's pro series of drives are even more capable and can support up to 24 bays, come with a 5-year warranty, and more advantage features.

Bottom line

Whether you go with Seagate or Western Digital, 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.

How to find the best Black Friday deals on NAS hard drives

After buying a NAS, you'll likely need some hard drives. Usually, manufacturers sell their NAS servers diskless, requiring you to buy your own. You'll need to consider capacity more than anything, and these drives should be specifically designed for NAS use — don't simply throw in your old desktop drives. If you're just starting out in the NAS world, a 2TB drive should be good enough for storing all your files and media. You'll want to purchase at least two drives so you have at least some form of redundancy (two 2TB drives would result in 2TB of usable storage in RAID).

When looking at NAS drives, you only have two choices: Western Digital or Seagate. Both companies offer similar products at reasonable prices, with more pricey "pro" drives with some advanced features. Black Friday should see some deals published for NAS drives, allowing you to save some money after investing in your shiny new home server. Our deals team will be hunting down the best Black Friday discounts on NAS drives, so check back at Windows Central throughout this month.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.

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