Western Digital and Seagate are the two giants for network-attached (NAS) storage, and both companies offer an almost identical offering. This makes it easy to select the right drive(s) for your NAS.

Reliability

Seagate Ironwolf

Hard drives specifically designed for NAS.

Seagate is a well-known brand in the storage industry, having been around for decades. The company has a strong collection of drives that are specifically designed for use inside NAS. I recommend a configuration with at least 4TB.

The Seagate IronWolf series is the company's solution for NAS setups, rivaling the Western Digital Red. 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, and 14TB versions and with three-year warranties. Prices start at $50 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.

Performance

Western Digital Red

Hard drives meant for NAS.

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 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 and 10TB versions. Depending on just how much space you require, it's possible to pick one up for as little as $65 (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.

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.

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.

Cale Hunt is a full-time writer for Windows Central, focusing mainly on PC hardware and VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and when he has some free time you can usually find him practicing guitar or reorganizing his ever-growing library. If you hear him say "Sorry!" it's only because he's Canadian.

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