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Best hard drives for Plex 2022

Synology DS1618+
Synology DS1618+ (Image credit: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

As well as purchasing the best NAS for Plex or setting up a small PC yourself, you will need some hard drives to store everything on. Just like we do with general NAS usage, it's strongly recommended you upgrade from desktop-class hard drives to specific NAS versions. We've rounded up a few options for best hard drive for Plex that you should consider trying.

What's the best hard drive for Plex?

Dedicated NAS drives are a middle ground between desktop and enterprise drives. They're durable enough for shared storage deployment and usually come optimized for NAS use. Increased performance and better power efficiency can also be found in NAS drives compared to their desktop counterparts.

You can use the same drives as you would on a desktop PC, but it's not recommended. These discs aren't designed for continuous use for months, if not years. Ideally, you'll want to look for a drive with a 7200 RPM motor and 64MB of cache. 

The drives we rounded up 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. Capacity only really matters if you plan on storing plenty of files.

Plex will run just fine with a slower hard drive, but you may encounter some stuttering and buffering while loading larger 4K movies with multiple people streaming content.

WD Red Plus

Western Digital Red Plus. (Image credit: Western Digital)

Western Digital Red Plus

Best from WD

Specifications

Bays: 8
Capacities: 1-14TB
Speed: 150-210MB/s
Workload: 180 TB/yr
Warranty: 3 years

Reasons to buy

+
Good value
+
Up to 14TB
+
3-year warranty

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited speeds
-
Limited bay support

The Western Digital Red Plus series offers hard drives with capacities of 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 10TB, 12TB, and 14TB. If you're not going to be storing much at all, it's possible to pick up the 1TB drive for about $50. That's more money than you'd pay for a desktop-class drive, but you're paying for enhanced reliability and additional features.

Each drive comes with the company's NASware 3.0. A drawback is an omission of mounting brackets or screws, speed, and support for up to only eight bays. Still, for most storage needs, the Red Plus series is more than enough. 

Hard driveMax baysSpeedWorkloadWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Western Digital Red Plus 1TB8150MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$50 (opens in new tab)$0.06
Western Digital Red Plus 2TB8175MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$60 (opens in new tab)$0.04
Western Digital Red Plus 3TB8175MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$75 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Western Digital Red Plus 4TB8175MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$85 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Western Digital Red Plus 6TB8175MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$135 (opens in new tab)$0.02
Western Digital Red Plus 8TB8210MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$210 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Western Digital Red Plus 10TB8215MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$275 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Western Digital Red Plus 12TB8196MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$300 (opens in new tab)$0.04
Western Digital Red Plus 14TB8210MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$387 (opens in new tab)$0.03

WD Red Pro

Western Digital Red Pro. (Image credit: WD)

Western Digital Red Pro

Best WD pro

Specifications

Bays: 24
Capacities: 2-18TB
Speed: 164-272MB/s
Workload: 300 TB/yr
Warranty: 5 years

Reasons to buy

+
Up to 18TB
+
Faster speeds
+
24 bay support
+
5-year warranty
+
Better endurance

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey

If you want a little more from Western Digital's Red series, the Pro family of drives supports NAS servers with up to 24 bays. With support for up to a 300TB per year workload rate, these drives are reliable and capable with 7200 RPM motors. Other handy features you'd also find in Seagate's IronWolf Pro range include error recovery and anti-vibration tech.

Hard driveMax baysSpeedWorkloadWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Western Digital Red Pro 2TB24164MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$85 (opens in new tab)$0.05
Western Digital Red Pro 4TB24217MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$138 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Western Digital Red Pro 6TB24238MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$251 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Western Digital Red Pro 8TB24235MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$270 (opens in new tab)$0.04
Western Digital Red Pro 10TB24265MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$323 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Western Digital Red Pro 12TB24240MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$390 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Western Digital Red Pro 14TB24255MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$425 (opens in new tab)$0.04
Western Digital Red Pro 16TB24259MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$500 (opens in new tab)$0.04
Western Digital Red Pro 18TB24272MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$550 (opens in new tab)$0.04

Seagate IronWolf

Seagate IronWolf. (Image credit: Seagate)

Seagate IronWolf

Best from Seagate

Specifications

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

Reasons to buy

+
Good value
+
Up to 14TB
+
3-year warranty

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited speeds
-
Limited bay support

Similarly to the Red series, IronWolf drives come in 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, 6TB, 7TB, 8TB, 10TB, 12TB, and 14TB versions and sport three-year warranties. The most affordable choice is the 1TB drive, which will cost you $60. Your Plex will last for a long time with a million hours mean time between failure (MTBF). Just don't expect to install more than eight of them in a NAS as this isn't supported.

Hard driveMax baysSpeedWorkloadWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Seagate IronWolf 1TB8180MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$60 (opens in new tab)$0.06
Seagate IronWolf 2TB8180MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$80 (opens in new tab)$0.04
Seagate IronWolf 3TB8180MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$95 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf 4TB8180MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$90 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf 6TB8180MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$167 (opens in new tab)$0.02
Seagate IronWolf 8TB8180MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$220 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf 10TB8180MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$286 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf 12TB8180MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$300 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf 14TB8240MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$401 (opens in new tab)$0.03

Seagate IronWolf Pro

Seagate IronWolf Pro. (Image credit: Seagate)

Seagate IronWolf Pro

Best Seagate pro

Specifications

Bays: 24
Capacities: 4-18TB
Speed: 214-260MB/s
Workload: 300 TB/yr
Warranty: 5 years

Reasons to buy

+
Good value
+
Up to 18TB
+
5-year warranty
+
24 bay support
+
Better endurance

Reasons to avoid

-
Slower than WD Pro
-
Pricey

The IronWolf Pro range is for those wanting a little more from their NAS storage drives. Starting from $140, these advanced drives can be installed in NAS servers with up to 24 bays. SSDs remain relatively expensive compared to mechanical drives, but more affordable options are coming to NAS owners.

Hard driveMax baysSpeedWorkloadWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Seagate IronWolf Pro 4TB24214MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$140 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 4TB24214MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$200 (opens in new tab)$0.05
Seagate IronWolf Pro 8TB24214MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$280 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 10TB24214MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$430 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 12TB24250MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$410 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 14TB24250MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$410 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 16TB24250MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$461 (opens in new tab)$0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 18TB24260MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$625 (opens in new tab)$0.03

Western Digital Red SA500

(Image credit: Western Digital)

Western Digital Red SA500

Best NAS SSD

Specifications

Bays: ~
Capacities: 500GB-4TB
Speed: 560MB/s
Workload: 2,500 TBW
Warranty: 5 years

Reasons to buy

+
No moving parts
+
5-year warranty
+
Unlimited bay support
+
Rapid speeds

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited capacities
-
Limited write endurance
-
Expensive

The Western Digital Red SA500 series comes in 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB capacities, so not quite as much as what you'd find in mechanical drives, but these drives are rapid. They're not cheap but offer data rates of up to 560MB/s. They also do not have any moving parts and should last longer than NAS hard drives.

SSDMax baysSpeedWorkloadWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Western Digital Red SA500 500GB~560MB/s350 TBW5 years$65 (opens in new tab)$0.15
Western Digital Red SA500 1TB~560MB/s600 TBW5 years$10 (opens in new tab)1$0.13
Western Digital Red SA500 2TB~560MB/s1,300 TBW5 years$245 (opens in new tab)$0.12
Western Digital Red SA500 4TB~560MB/s2,500 TBW5 years$420 (opens in new tab)$0.13

How to pick the best NAS for Plex

Plex requires a solid server to get the most out of the service, though a capable network-attached storage (NAS) solution will suffice. It's possible to build your own, which is the desired method for those with the know-how. What if you simply wish to purchase a product, plug everything in, and get going?

This list will aid you in choosing the best NAS for Plex Media Server. Throw in two or more of the hard drives recommended, and you'll be singing ... quite literally to your favorite tunes being streamed.