Each month we test one to two NAS products here at TweakTown, but the number of emails I receive asking which drives to use far surpasses that number. The main issue that crops up when choosing a set of disk drives is always the same, price. When shopping for a HDD for a NAS it is easy to shop based on price and every dollar saved is multiplied since you have to buy a set of them to fill your NAS. In order to reach RAID 5 you need a minimum of three drives, but most home and small business NAS servers hold four to five drives. Using the new Thecus N5500 as an example, it uses five drives, so for each dollar you save on a single drive means five dollars saved when scaled across your array. The money adds up quickly!
The problem though is that many low-cost HDDs are not validated on NAS systems and in a handful of cases will not work properly at all. The Western Digital Green Series of products usually turn up in Google price searches as one of the lowest priced drives selling, but they are also one of the largest offenders for not working in some popular products from Thecus, QNAP and Synology. Making the issue worse, some drives, not just the Green Series, but in general will work, but a different batch number, with a different firmware installed will not work. It makes for a frustrating time when shopping because I've yet to see an e-tailer publish specific batch numbers along with the product specs.
For several years Western Digital has built specific products for RAID environments, the RE class of products. The RE products are great for enterprise RAID and have all of the technology included to handle bad blocks, but they are full on enterprise, all the way up to the price. For most home and small business users full on enterprise pricing is a deal killer, especially when you get to larger arrays. To make things a little easier Western digital has come up with a solution and it's RED.
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