Best hard drives for Plex Windows Central 2021

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.

How to pick the best NAS for Plex

Synology DS1019+Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

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?

We've compiled a list of the best NAS enclosures for installing and running Plex Media Server. Throw in two or more of the hard drives recommended below and you'll be singing ... quite literally to your favorite tunes being streamed.

How to pick the right Plex NAS

Western Digital Red

WD DriveSource: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

NAS HDD

Western Digital Red

Western Digital Red Plus

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.

The 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 just $60. 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 and supporting up to only eight bays.

Hard drive Max bays Speed Workload Warranty Price $ per GB
Western Digital Red Plus 1TB 8 150MB/s 180 TB/yr 3 years $55 $0.06
Western Digital Red Plus 2TB 8 175MB/s 180 TB/yr 3 years $75 $0.04
Western Digital Red Plus 3TB 8 175MB/s 180 TB/yr 3 years $88 $0.03
Western Digital Red Plus 4TB 8 175MB/s 180 TB/yr 3 years $104 $0.03
Western Digital Red Plus 6TB 8 175MB/s 180 TB/yr 3 years $150 $0.02
Western Digital Red Plus 8TB 8 210MB/s 180 TB/yr 3 years $220 $0.03
Western Digital Red Plus 10TB 8 215MB/s 180 TB/yr 3 years $353 $0.03
Western Digital Red Plus 12TB 8 196MB/s 180 TB/yr 3 years $389 $0.04
Western Digital Red Plus 14TB 8 210MB/s 180 TB/yr 3 years $460 $0.03

Premium NAS HDD

WD Red Pro

Western Digital Red Pro

Faster and more reliable storage

If you want more from HDDs then you'll want to move up to the Pro line of Western Digital Red drives. They're a little more expensive, but come rocking 7200RPM motors, allowing them to access data quicker.

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 7200RPM motors. Other handy features you'd also find in Seagate's IronWolf Pro range include error recovery and anti-vibration tech.

Hard drive Max bays Speed Workload Warranty Price $ per GB
Western Digital Red Pro 2TB 24 164MB/s 300 TB/yr 5 years $94 $0.05
Western Digital Red Pro 4TB 24 217MB/s 300 TB/yr 5 years $140 $0.03
Western Digital Red Pro 6TB 24 238MB/s 300 TB/yr 5 years $195 $0.03
Western Digital Red Pro 8TB 24 235MB/s 300 TB/yr 5 years $290 $0.04
Western Digital Red Pro 10TB 24 265MB/s 300 TB/yr 5 years $330 $0.03
Western Digital Red Pro 12TB 24 240MB/s 300 TB/yr 5 years $390 $0.03
Western Digital Red Pro 14TB 24 255MB/s 300 TB/yr 5 years $460 $0.04
Western Digital Red Pro 16TB 24 259MB/s 300 TB/yr 5 years $550 $0.04
Western Digital Red Pro 18TB 24 272MB/s 300 TB/yr 5 years $635 $0.04

Seagate IronWolf

Synology DS1618+Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

NAS HDD

Seagate IronWolf

Seagate IronWolf

Reliable storage for all your Plex media

Seagate IronWolf is similar to Red hard drives in numerous ways. They include technology with AgileArray, which helps improve performance and reliability over traditional desktop drives.

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 drive Max bays Speed Workload Warranty Price $ per GB
Seagate IronWolf 1TB 8 180MB/s 180 TB/yr 3 years $60 $0.06
Seagate IronWolf 2TB 8 180MB/s 180 TB/yr 3 years $80 $0.04
Seagate IronWolf 3TB 8 180MB/s 180 TB/yr 3 years $95 $0.03
Seagate IronWolf 4TB 8 180MB/s 180 TB/yr 3 years $105 $0.03
Seagate IronWolf 6TB 8 180MB/s 180 TB/yr 3 years $218 $0.02
Seagate IronWolf 8TB 8 180MB/s 180 TB/yr 3 years $229 $0.03
Seagate IronWolf 10TB 8 180MB/s 180 TB/yr 3 years $300 $0.03
Seagate IronWolf 12TB 8 180MB/s 180 TB/yr 3 years $360 $0.03
Seagate IronWolf 14TB 8 240MB/s 180 TB/yr 3 years $500 $0.03

Premium NAS HDD

Seagate IronWolf Pro

Seagate IronWolf Pro

Even faster NAS HDDs

Like the Western Digital Pro range of HDDs, Seagate also has a family of drives for your NAS that runs faster and will allow for slightly better data access times.

The IronWolf Pro range is for those wanting a little more from their NAS storage drives. Starting from $101, 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 drive Max bays Speed Workload Warranty Price $ per GB
Seagate IronWolf Pro 4TB 24 214MB/s 300 TB/yr 5 years $140 $0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 4TB 24 214MB/s 300 TB/yr 5 years $200 $0.05
Seagate IronWolf Pro 8TB 24 214MB/s 300 TB/yr 5 years $280 $0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 10TB 24 214MB/s 300 TB/yr 5 years $334 $0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 12TB 24 250MB/s 300 TB/yr 5 years $398 $0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 14TB 24 250MB/s 300 TB/yr 5 years $520 $0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 16TB 24 250MB/s 300 TB/yr 5 years $550 $0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 18TB 24 260MB/s 300 TB/yr 5 years $625 $0.03

NAS SSD

Seagate IronWolf SSD

Seagate IronWolf 110 SSD

When you want even quicker drives

Seagate has an SSD version of the IronWolf NAS drive series. These solid-state drives offer better transfer speeds without all the moving motors and other parts.

Seagate's IronWolf 110 series comes in 240GB, 480GB, 960GB, 1.92TB, and 3.84TB capacities, so not quite as much as what you'd find in mechanical drives, but these drives are rapid. Starting from $80, they're not cheap but offer data rates of up to 560MB/s.

Store all the things

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.

Go for speed

Ideally, you'll want to look for a drive with a 7,200RPM 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.

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