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
  • James

    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!

    • http://www.technutz.com/ Gary the TechNut

      Thanks James! What most people don’t understand is the error recovery is much better and you could get away using a cheaper drive but the extra few dollars is money well spent for peace of mind. Plus the warranties are much better so if you do have a failure further in the future a replacement drive makes it easier to rebuild your data.

      • James

        Yeah this was great to see, as I am converting all my DVD’s and CD’s to .mp3 and divx files for use on all my devices in the house from Ps3 to my Samsung phone. So for now I have PLEX doing most of the work with my small external but will need to expand and was looking around and pricing wise, now that I read this it will help a lot and I know I won’t do it for cheap and end of hating it when or if it does crash or fail. Any recommendations for the device to put these good drives in? I heard Synology is good brand but pricy.

        • http://www.technutz.com/ Gary the TechNut

          What kind of budget do you have in mind? You could build your own fairly cheap and I have an article for a great DIY NAS build. But it depends on how much storage you plan on using and that build could be tweaked to get the performance you need without killing your budget.

          • James

            Total budget for now with the drives and device would be like close to $850 dollars right now, the size I am looking at for storage of all my data and act as a server would be like 4TB max for now. Since most of my stuff is sitting on external drives but I want to clear them up and have everything in one location for ease of use. Then I would use the externals for light back up of important things. Because I have been tinkering with this idea for a while and when I read on here what the difference in the drives were then it all made sense what I am looking at on Amazon.com. Because I have built many computers and things but to do a NAS or server like conditions is new and I am really excited to start it and see what all I can do with it.

          • http://www.technutz.com/ Gary the TechNut

            Check this article (http://technutz.com/freenas-build-2013-technutz-recommended/) out and use the Fractal Node 304 as it is around $86 right now. Use this motherboard ECS Elitegroup Mini ITX DDR3 1333 BGA 1023 Motherboard NM70-I and replace with this memory Crucial 8GB Single DDR3 1333 MT/s (PC3-10600) CL9 SODIMM 204-Pin 1.35V/1.5V Notebook Memory Module CT102464BF1339 and four of the Seagate NAS HDD 2TB (ST2000VN000) and you will be able to use FreeNAS (http://www.freenas.org/) to set up raid-Z1 with around 6TB of useable space for around $800.

          • http://www.technutz.com/ Gary the TechNut

            Check out this article (http://technutz.com/freenas-build-2013-technutz-recommended/) and replace the case with the Fractal Node 304 (http://amzn.to/11MAN9B) . Replace the motherboard/cpu with this one from ECS (http://amzn.to/120md2B). Substitute the ram with this crucial module (http://amzn.to/120kVEB) and get four Seagate NAS HDD 2TB (ST2000VN000). This should all come to around a little over $800 and give you 5-6 TB of useable storage under a raid-Z1 using freenas (http://freenas.org).

          • James

            Thank you again and this seems really good, now I can’t wait to get it up and running now! Thank you for all your info it did help

  • Karen B.

    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… :)

  • Kevin Price

    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.

  • Jules

    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.

    • http://www.technutz.com/ Gary the TechNut

      WD even has a dedicated 24/7 support number to call for its RED products. How cool is that!?

  • The Ancient

    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.

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  • Swâmi Petaramesh

    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).

  • ness

    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.

  • Waltzin Matilda

    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