NAS hard disks

NAS hard disks test 2021: The best NAS disks in comparison

Our test deals with the suitable hard disks which you need for your NAS system.

You already own a NAS server or you want to buy one, but you don’t have the right hard disks yet? In our article you will find all the points that you should consider before buying a hard drive. You can also search for the exact hard drive you need with our hard drive configurator.

An overview of the best NAS hard drives:

NAS Hard Disk Guide: Everything you need to know!


Normally, when you buy a NAS, you are offered to choose whether you want it bundled with hard drives or not. Most of the time you can even choose between different packages, which have different large storage capacities.

You will get cheaper and stay more flexible if you buy a NAS server without hard disks.

You can either install only one or several drives. In the end, you decide for yourself which hard drive you want to use.

Besides the advantage that you remain flexible, the price is also lower. In most cases it is cheaper to buy a hard disk separately, to use the already installed hard disk or to increase the storage capacity step by step.

Hard disk format – 3.5 or 2.5 inch

As it is known from the desktop PC, also the NAS hard disks are sold in most cases in the 3.5 inch format. There are also hard disks in 2.5 inch format, which are normally installed in notebooks. However, these are only found in very small NAS systems that are suitable for home use. They have the advantage that they require less power and are very quiet. But compared to the storage capacity, they are more expensive than the 3.5 inch hard drives.

Operating times – stress test for the hard disks

A NAS storage has the same function as a cloud storage. It ensures that data is always ready for retrieval. This memory is therefore always in operation and only goes into sleep mode when no one is currently retrieving its data. Hard disks for PC applications are not made for such continuous performance, just like the 2.5 inch hard disks found in notebooks.

So if you are looking for hard drives for your NAS system, they should be made for 24 hour use. But not only this criterion plays an important role. This is because some hard drives, such as the Archive HDD v2 from Seagate, are designed for continuous operation, but not in a NAS system. So stated by the manufacturer.

Recommended hard disks for NAS servers

The Seagate Archive HDD works by Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR). This recording method ensures a higher data density. However, this requires a special procedure for writing. If longer write accesses occur, for example during a rebuild of a RAID system in the NAS, this can lead to complications.

Special hard disk series for the NAS

Seagate, Toshiba and Western Digital (WD, or also known as HGST) make hard drives specifically for NAS systems. HGST is the name of the former hard disk manufacturers IBM and Hitachi. hard disks from the manufacturers Seagate and HGST that are specially designed for NAS systems can be recognized by the addition of “NAS” in the product name. At WD, you’ll know which hard drive is right for your system by its color code, which indicates where it will be used. WD Red (color code red) are for example the NAS hard drives from WD.

Data throughput for NAS hard disks

Although it is often said, the read as well as write speed of the hard drives is not a crucial factor in the NAS system. More important is the network you are running your NAS on, unless your NAS is running on a 10 GBit network and you are retrieving the appropriate data throughput. This is exactly the reason why most NAS do not have SSDs installed, but hard disks with rotating magnetic disks.

SSDs are basically not capable of the high access speeds in the NAS. Although they are quiet and require much less power, they cannot compete with classic hard drives in terms of reliability and endurance. If you want your data to be absolutely safe, then you should use magnetic NAS hard drives. Before their warranty expires, replace them and use the old disks to make long-term backups.

Which speed for hard disks in the NAS

When it comes to rotational speed, NAS and SSD hard drives are pretty much the same. If you have a disk with 7200 or more revolutions per minute, you will benefit from higher data throughput. However, a slow hard disk drive with around 5400 revolutions per minute can achieve a data rate of 150 MB/s or even more. Thus, they are also underutilized in almost all NAS systems.slow hard drives are quiet and very smooth. They also require less power and therefore emit less heat. Since this can look completely different in individual cases, the rotational speed is therefore only a reference point when selecting a hard disk.

Hard disk size and number of hard disks

When choosing the size of your NAS hard drives, you should consider your space requirements as well as your plans for the near future. Planning for 10 years or more would not be wise, as it will only increase operating costs and tie up capital, and the length of time your hard drives are under warranty is an important guide to planning for capacity on your NAS. Even if you use really expensive NAS hard disks, the long operating times will also cause them to fail. We therefore recommend that you replace the plates before their warranty expires. You can then buy new ones and increase the capacity of your NAS if necessary.

NAS systems generally have two to eight hard disk slots. The Enterprise systems have up to 16 such slots, so that one can compensate for a bottleneck with additional disks. If you are setting up a new system, we recommend that you install a few large hard drives instead of many small ones. Most of the time, you’re paying the same price for the same capacity with the big disks. They are also more power efficient and quieter than many small hard drives.

Data blocks and block sizes

In order to avoid a large administrative overhead within the file systems, the data on the hard disks is stored in blocks of, for example, 512 KB and not just bit by bit. This technique does not use all of the memory, but you can access the data and address memory areas much faster.

Due to the ever increasing size of hard disks and files, new requirements for the size of the blocks arise. Newer file system implementations already use blocks with 4KB. In the meantime, there are also hard disks that have the necessary hardware to process this block size.

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