Traditional mechanical drives for the desktop can be used in the best NAS for home, but they're not built for continuous operation over prolonged periods. Leading brands in the storage business have enhanced drives available that are specifically designed for NAS installations. With the advancements made in SSD technology, NAS SSDs are coming to market, and we've rounded up some of the best drives around for your NAS.
Seagate's IronWolf series is the company's solution for NAS setups, rivaling WD 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 and workload rates.
Western Digital Red
Western Digital's (WD) Red family of hard drives are manufactured for NAS use and can be deployed in systems that support up to eight bays. WD drives are well known to be of top quality, and they last a long time. The Red series isn't the fastest batch of hard drives on the market, but using them in a RAID formation can make up for this.
HGST Deskstar NAS
HGST is the child company of Western Digital, and as such, you'll enjoy a similar performance, reliability, and customer service experiences. Vibration protection and a million hours MTBF (mean time before failure) make these NAS-classified drives ideal for deployment at home or in a small office. These drives are relatively expensive, but you get better speed than WD Red and Seagate's IronWolf.
Seagate IronWolf Pro
The IronWolf Pro series from Seagate is 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. You can store and access a lot of data on these drives, and they work in NAS with up to 24 bays.
Western Digital Red Pro
Like Seagate, Western Digital has a "pro" series of drives, which are even more capable than the standard lineup of NAS storage options. Supporting up to 24 bays, these drives come rocking more advantage features, including 3D Active Balance Plus and error recovery controls.
Seagate IronWolf SSD
Seagate's IronWolf SSD range takes everything that makes the IronWolf HHDs so good and turns it all up to 11. These drives start from 240GB with a 560MB/s sustained transfer speed for enhanced performance compared to mechanical drives.
Western Digital Red SSD
Like the IronWolf SSD series from Seagate, the Red SSD family of drives offer improved transfer rates compared to normal NAS HDDs. The price hike can be justified by the performance bump alone, not to mention a lower power draw and no mechanical moving parts.
What should you look for?
Generally speaking, when looking for NAS hard drives, you will want to aim for a 7,200RPM drive with 64MB of cache. Hard drives will perform similarly between brands, but you'll want to pay attention to reviews, as well as features and specifications, to pick a drive that will handle everything you throw at it. Choosing the right hard drive is essential, especially for a NAS. An SSD takes things to a new level with read and write speeds, but you'll be paying a premium.
We've used the Seagate IronWolf for years without fault and find the drives to be well priced to boot. The same can be said about the Western Digital Red, which is almost identical to Seagate counterparts. If you want to expand on your NAS storage, you'll want to aim big with the more pricey Seagate IronWolf Pro and Western Digital Red Pro.
Rich Edmonds is a word conjurer at Windows Central, covering everything related to Windows, gaming, and hardware. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a device chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.
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