Jun 182013

NAS Hard DriveNAS Hard Drives – Introduction

NAS Hard Drive – So you have decided that it is time to centralize your storage and give your data a safe home to be served to all of your devices. Whether you are using a DIY NAS or a pre-built solution such as a Synology DiskStation 4-Bay DS412+ you need to chose the correct NAS hard drive to get performance and reliability that a standard desktop drive cannot provide. Luckily, hard drive manufacturers such as Western Digital and Seagate have picked up on the cue’s and are providing purpose built NAS hard drive solutions. So let’s review my experiences and delve into the reasons why…




My Personal NAS Hard Drive Experience

When I built my first home server (WHS 2011) I went with the cheapest options available at the time. I bought four WD Green 1 TB Desktop Hard Drives and slapped them in the box thinking that I had just saved a few dollars. Now at the time I didn’t have a lot of devices connected to my little home server and the load I placed on it was very small as it was mainly used for backing up my other computers. When I built my first HTPC everything changed, and those drives were put to work. Within the first month of backing up my Blu-Ray collection to MKV format I had my first drive failure. Luckily I had copies of everything on my main computer or else it would have been a total loss. So began the search for a more reliable storage solution that ended up with the ditching of WHS 2011 in favor of FreeNAS and relegating the WD green drives into backup only duty. So, enough about me. Let’s talk about what you should do to stave off the experience I encountered.

Enter the Purpose Built NAS Hard Drive

The reasoning behind using a purpose built NAS hard drive becomes apparent when you consider the environment that they must work in. The drives must perform 24×7 which can place unique stresses a standard desktop drive is just not meant to handle and could be an accident waiting to happen. The stresses include:

  • Temperature – a purpose built NAS hard drive has a greater MTB (meantime between failure) and are designed to mitigate the effects of temperature produced by running the drives in close quarters 24×7.
  • Vibration – NAS hard drives are balanced to reduce vibrations that can be amplified when placing more than one drive close together and accessing data at the same time.
  • Error Recovery Controls – NAS hard drives include error recovery/prevention firmware that work with your raid array to help detect errors and lessen downtime rebuilding the array.
  • Streaming Support – large video files can place a lot of demand on a NAS hard drive and having native support for the ATA streaming feature set can improve performance when accessing/writing this type of data.
  • Power Optimization – NAS hard drive firmware optimizes power use that can result in significant power savings and lower hard drive operating temperatures. This helps improve the overall reliability and performance of the drive and could reduce the cost of ownership.
Recommended Purpose Built NAS Hard Drives


Western Digital RedWestern Digital Red

WD’s line of consumer level NAS hard drives are purpose built for systems ranging from 1-5 disks. They include custom firmware they call NASware and have all of the features I mention above.  At the time of this writing they offer three models ranging from 1TB – 3TB. I personally use this line of drives in the 1TB variety and have been very happy with them and have no failures so far. Below are the models and pricing as of this writing:NASware logo


WD Red 1 TB NAS Hard Drive (WD10EFRX)

Price $80

WD Red 2 TB NAS Hard Drive (WD20EFRX)

Price $115

WD Red 3 TB NAS Hard Drive (WD30EFRX)

Price $151


Seagate NAS Hard DriveSeagate NAS HDD

Seagates line of consumer level NAS hard drives are purpose built for systems ranging from 1-5 disks and were just released in June 2013. They include custom firmware they call NASWorks and have all of the features I mention above in the previous section.  At the time of this writing they offer three models ranging from 2TB – 4TB and are the highest capacity NAS hard drives available. Seagate drives are known for their reliability and the NAS HDD line should be no different. Below are the models and pricing as of this writing:NASWorks logo

Seagate NAS HDD 2TB (ST2000VN000)

Price $126

Seagate NAS HDD 3TB (ST3000VN000)

Price $155

Seagate NAS HDD 4TB (ST4000VN000)

Price $210


The main point of this article was to persuade you away from the pitfalls of using the wrong drive in a NAS environment. The drives I have recommended for you are the best options currently available outside of moving up to costly network enterprise drives. Don’t follow in my footsteps to learn that you just spent a lot of money on a drive configuration destined to fail. Start off on a solid platform designed to meet your storage goals.

So what are your thoughts on NAS hard drives? Would you still use a cheap desktop model over a purpose built drive?


 Posted by on June 18, 2013  Add comments

  16 Responses to “Purpose Built NAS Hard Drives and Why You Need Them”

  1. Good article and I have a little homemade server I do right now and was going to this in the near future and sure enough I was gonna go the cheap route. Now that I see how that would end up a mess, I am really glad I found this article and will make my next NAS system work like a charm and last. Thanks Gary!

  2. I’m using … 2x 1TB WD Green in nas for about 4 or 5 years… works nice… no problems…

    they are not loud, but i think there are to match vibration, so i put some cotton pads under my nas… and yeahh silence… next stem change cooler of my nas… :)

  3. Very nice simple artical. I’m going to be building a NAS soon and I was really on the fence about these drives if they are really worth it. When you think about it, the price of replacing a consumer drive is almost as much as if you just spent the money on the NAS drives in the first place. If you building a NAS go with NAS drives! No reason not to especially at these very reasonable prices. Going to get 5 of the Seagate ones, still not sure what size yet.

  4. Totally agreed, I have used the same as you (WD Red 1TB) for a while and they are OK as first day on duty. Highly recommend those.

  5. One thing to keep in mind with WD “Green” is they have the AV-GP line which I use for Media Center Storage, and then the Official Green Line, the AV-GP line however has a Green Label so many people call them “Green” HD’s. the official Green line is no suited, as you indicated, for long term storage, they are used for backups and external disks, but I have had wonderful success with the AV-GP line.

  6. RAID means : Redundant Array of INEXPENSIVE Drives.

    I’ve been running several (quite busy) servers and NASes using cheap
    off-the-shelf HDs for 10+ years and haven’t noticed any more failures
    than what I’m used to using professional server HDs in a professional

    IMHO the “NAS” HDs is a marketing move for selling more expensive drives that are not technically necessary.

    the first place, it’s not “NAS capable” drives that should be seeked,
    but companies selling “NAS unable” drives that should be avoided.

    more important is to chose, in a NAS or RAID array, drives that don’t
    have too close serial numbers, and replace a few before they age, so
    you don’t stay too long with most drives having the same age (and
    failure probability).

  7. I have just finished a nas build with 4 green drives and have had no issue using the drives in a desktop shared storage solution for years just got sick of my pc being on 24/7. On saying that tho I am building a 12 disk nas soon have the server just need the drives and I will only be using red drives.

  8. Watching what goes on around my husband’s shop, I’d go with WD drives all the way.

    As he recalls, he had 9 bad Seagates in at one point. Contrast that with ONE WD in 10 years.

    And of course, customer service is about the same.

    Waltzin Matilda