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Choose Your Drives Carefully

Choose Your Drives Carefully

Balancing Quality-Based HDDs and NAS Servers to Gain Optimum Reliability and Performance

A reliable data storage solution is an important part of the modern business toolbox. Today, many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have realized the benefits of having a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. Pairing the right NAS and the right applications can take their businesses to the next level.

While choosing a NAS device is important, even more critical is ensuring that you have the right hard drive or SSD media for storing files. Technically, you can use just about any modern Hard Disk Drive (HDD) in your NAS. Unfortunately, doing this will not always yield the optimum reliability and performance you desire from the device.

On one hand, this could be a great option if you want, but it may yield disastrous results for those that are undecided or those looking for the best HDD on the market right now. For those of you deciding to take a plunge for NAS, with shopping around for  high-capacity HDDs, then here is what you need to know.

Different Types of HDDs

With numerous HDD classes and models on the market, selecting the best drive for your Synology or QNAP NAS may seem like a daunting task. Before shopping for HDDs, you should have a bit of information on the major differences between major hard drive classes, and considerations required to select the right HDD for your NAS.

Before diving into the different types of hard drives on the market, here are a few key terms you need to know:

  • Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF): This statistic states the reliability of a hard drive. A high MTBF means a lower chance of failure
  • Power-On-Hours (POH): This denotes the hours electrical power can be applied to the drive. 8/5 means eight hours a day for five days a week while 24/7 means 24 hours a day for every day of the year
  • Workload: This is the user’s data transfer rate in terabytes per year

Currently, the market offers you four major HDD classes, each designed for specific workloads, MTBF, POH, and applications. At the basic level, you can use all hard drive classes in Synology or QNAP NAS devices, but it is recommended you choose the right drive class for your requirements. The main drive classes on the market are:

  1. Desktop Drives: These are designed to work on notebook and desktop computers where a single drive is usually installed. While they are more affordable, they do not have vibration protection, which makes them vulnerable in applications with multiple drives. If installed in NAS devices, desktop HDDs are a perfect recipe for disaster as these were not designed to work within an array of RAID based drives. Steer away from these and do not use them under any circumstances..
  2. Enterprise Drives: These drives are designed with superior components for better vibration protection, error correction, MTBF, POH, and performance. If used in NAS devices, enterprise HDDs are ideal for business environments where high availability and consistent data throughput is required for moving large data amounts. The drives can be used in business applications with numerous employees that require simultaneous access to files, virtual storage systems, or database servers. Highly recommended over any other drive type, if competitive and price is affordable, plum for category, as with any NAS its only as good as the reliability and performance of the drives selected.
  3. Surveillance Drives: These drives are optimized for sequential write operations to accommodate the 24/7 demands of long video recordings. However, surveillance drives have low random access performance and some lack vibration sensors.
  4. NAS Drives: If you find that desktop drives are not durable enough and enterprise drives are too expensive for your budget, NAS HDDs provide an alternative that is optimized specially for NAS usage.

What are NAS-Optimized HDDs?

Like drills, hammers, and wrenches in a toolbox, each class of hard drives is designed to handle specific tasks. You have the option of using low-cost desktop HDDs, but user access and performance will eventually degrade over time. You also have the option of installing expensive mission-critical drives, but they may not be a cost-effective solution for SMBs.

While they may great in a few applications, desktop, enterprise, or surveillance HDDs are not good for the long-term use in a NAS devices. This is where NAS-optimized drives come in. A NAS-optimized HDD is designed for today’s and tomorrow’s business by offering you:

  • The right performance: SMB NAS applications are usually revolved around backups, data archiving, and streaming. NAS-optimized HDDs help by making it easy to stream data to several sources, and delivering random data fast.
  • Reliability: Reliability is a critical component in lowering Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and achieving a positive Return On Investment (ROI). Using NAS-optimized drives offers you a full range of reliability benefits that help reduce outages while increasing storage uptime.
  • Capacity: A NAS-optimized HDD is capable of providing your business with up to 14TB and lowers your TCO by freeing up expensive storage space. The extra capacity can then be used for data protection via RAID.