Best Hard Drives for NAS Devices

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  • Post last modified:September 28, 2023
  • Post category:NAS
  • Reading time:13 mins read

Today we are going to look at the best hard drives for NAS devices. Whether you’ve built a DIY NAS with TrueNAS, Unraid, or OpenMediaVault, or are comparing hard drives for pre-built NAS devices, selecting the correct hard drive is extremely important. This could be the difference between having an extremely reliable NAS, and constantly running into storage issues.

Before looking at the best hard drives for NAS devices, we’ll look at two important factors to explain why purchasing a NAS hard drive is extremely important.

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NAS Drives vs. Desktop Drives

There are two main reasons why you want to use NAS hard drives as opposed to desktop hard drives. NAS drives are designed for 24/7 continuous operation, while desktop drives aren’t.

NAS hard drives also have thermal controls and anti-vibration technology that helps to minimize vibrations, which can become a major problem for NAS devices since multiple hard drives are spinning at the same time (and normally, next to each other).

For this reason, there are almost no circumstances where utilizing a desktop-grade hard drive in a NAS is a good option for long-term usage.

Hard Drive Failures: Best Hard Drives for NAS Devices

Before we can look at the different types of hard drives that you can use, you should be aware that all hard drives fail (at some point). That’s an unfortunate reality, and while hard drive failure statistics exist (meaning that some brands generally fail less than others), it’s important to remember that they all will fail at some point.

The only way of really protecting yourself in these situations is by ensuring a strong warranty exists to protect against early hard drive failure. Without getting too deep into specifics, hard drives generally fail early or late. Meaning that you have a higher chance of them failing when they’re new (very early in their life), or when they’re old and you already know they need to be replaced.

hard drive failure rate showing the hard drives rarely fail in the middle, but mostly early or late in their lifespan.

The benefit is that in between, they generally function as expected. Depending on the NAS operating system you’re using, ensuring that S.M.A.R.T tests run can help protect you in these scenarios so that you’re at least aware when a hard drive has started to fail.

Best Hard Drives for NAS Devices: Recommendations

I’ve always used Seagate IronWolf NAS drives and I’ve had great reliability with them. The IronWolf Pro drives below are slightly superior (better workload rates and warranty, plus Seagate Rescue Data Recovery), so you’ll have to determine if you can justify the price difference.

Seagate IronWolf Hard Drive: Best Budget Option

IronWolf Hard Drive

Warranty: 3-year

Seagate IronWolf Pro Hard Drive: Best Hard Drives for NAS Devices

best hard drives for nas devices - IronWolf Pro Hard Drive

Warranty: 5-year

Western Digital Red Hard Drive (WD Red Plus/WD Red Pro)

Western Digital drives are very similar to Seagate’s IronWolf drives and are a great alternative. With that said, my personal preference has always been Seagate, but Western Digital Red drives are generally good NAS drives as well.

It’s important to know that Western Digital was caught selling SMR drives that weren’t advertised as SMR drives and quickly changed their marketing to reflect that, so make sure that you purchase a CMR drive.

At this point, Western Digital Red drives are SMR drives, whereas Red Plus drives are CMR drives. Western Digital Red Pro drives are unchanged.

It’s difficult to explain if SMR drives will impact your workflow (since there are tons of factors), but for the most part, you should never use SMR drives in NAS devices utilizing RAID.

Western Digital Red Plus

Western Digital Red Plus

Warranty: 3-year

Western Digital Red Pro

Warranty: 5-year

Western Digital Red Pro

Conclusion: Best Hard Drives for NAS Devices

This article looked at the best hard drives for NAS devices. In general, selecting a NAS hard drive is the most important thing after determining what device you’d like to use it in. You don’t want to use desktop-grade hard drives in situations where you really need NAS drives, so the options above are the best hard drives for NAS devices.

Thanks for checking out the article on the best hard drives for NAS devices. If you have any questions on the best hard drives for NAS devices, please leave them in the comments!

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Frank is an IT professional with over 13 years experience and is the creator of WunderTech. He started his home lab in 2018 and is passionate about educating people on NAS, Docker, virtualization, firewalls, and self-hosted apps through his experiences as an avid home lab enthusiast. Frank holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in Computer Information Systems and a Master of Business Administration (MBA).