Synology DS1019+

Synology DS1019+

Choosing the best drives for your NAS is more important doing the same for your desktop or laptop. You need storage that’s capable of running continuously without issue and is reliable enough to hold all your valuable data. Luckily, there are drives out there designed specifically for use with a NAS, like the excellent Seagate IronWolf.

Best overall: Seagate Ironwolf

Seagate IronWolf

Seagate IronWolf

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 all come with 3-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, so we recommend not going below that. The 6TB and above models run at 7,200 RPM.

Pros:

  • Great performance
  • Reliable
  • Quiet
  • 3-year warranty
  • High workload

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Not all run at 7,200RPM

Best Overall



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.

Best Runner-up: Western Digital Red

Western Digital Red

Western Digital Red

Western Digital’s (WD) Red hard drives are manufactured for NAS use and can be deployed in systems that support up to eight bays. WD is a powerful brand in the storage market and its drives are well known in the industry — they last a long time, are backed by 3-year limited warranties, and are high quality. 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.

Pros:

  • Great performance
  • Reliable
  • Quiet
  • 3-year warranty
  • High workload

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Only 5,400 RPM

Best Runner-up



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.

Best reliability: Seagate Ironwolf Pro

Seagate Ironwolf Pro

Seagate Ironwolf Pro

Just like the upgraded WD Red Pro drives, Seagate offers a “Pro” version of its NAS IronWolf storage series. This NAS drive family consists of models that rock 7,200 RPM motors that allow for data transfer rates of up to 250MB/s. You also get a 5-year limited warranty from the manufacturer and work load limit of 300TB per year. All this means you’ll be investing in a capable NAS drive that’s rated to last for multiple years.

There’s also the fact that the Seagate IronWolf Pro drives can be installed on NAS servers that house up to 24 bays. That’s a lot of drives. When you require vast amounts of storage for hosting big files, you’ll do well to choose the IronWolf Pro series with a NAS that can house countless drives. And just like Western Digital, Seagate packs in advanced features like IronWolf Health Management for enhanced data loss protection.

These drives are pricey, but worth it if you need the additional performance. The Pro range comes in 2TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 10TB, 12TB and 14TB variants.

Pros:

  • 7,200 PRM
  • Reliable
  • Quiet
  • 5-year warranty
  • High workload

Best Reliability



Seagate IronWolf Pro

Amazing performance and reliability

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. For peace of mind, Seagate includes a 5-year warranty and a 300TB per year workload limit. You can store and access a lot of data on these drives and they work in NAS with up to 24 bays.

Best Performance: Western Digital Red Pro

Western Digital Red Pro

Western Digital Red Pro

The standard WD NAS drives are pretty good, so why would you need to consider the “Pro” version? Simply put, these drives are even better for your NAS deployment. The Red Pro from Western Digital comes rocking more cache and faster 7,200 RPM motors that can allow for up to around 50MB/s of additional data transfer headroom. While the standard NAS drives are rated to work in formations of up to eight drives, these Pro units can work in NAS with up to 24 bays.

Then you have the more advanced features like 3D Active Balance Plus and error recovery controls. If you’re all about peace of mind and have the budget to spare, grabbing some Pro drives will not only make your NAS work a little bit faster from a storage perspective, but also more effectively shield you against data loss. Whether these features and the slight increase in performance is worth the bump in price is down to your needs and available budget. They’re certainly not for everyone, but if you need to move large amounts of data, it might be worth a look.

You’ll be able to choose from 2TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 10TB storage options.

Pros:

  • 7,200 PRM
  • Reliable
  • Quiet
  • 5-year warranty
  • High workload

Best Performance



Western Digital Red Pro

When only the best will do

Western Digital’s Red Pro series is all about speed, spinning the platters at 7,200 RPM instead of 5,400 RPM with the standard NAS drives. This results in better read/write performance and comes with an extended warranty. It’s always better to go with at least 4TB, especially when configuring your drives in RAID.

Bottom line

When choosing reliable hard drives for a NAS, both Western Digital and Seagate offer great options at reasonable prices. There’s not a whole lot of difference between the Red and IronWolf series of drives. Both have similar speeds, warranties, reliability scores and more. It’s recommended you grab at least two drives with a capacity of 2TB so you can use RAID for redundancy without sacrificing too much on available space. If I was to recommend one it would be the Seagate option. Not only do you save a little, but you get more capacity options. I’ve had IronWolfs running in a NAS for years without failure so I can attest that they’ll last a while, too.

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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