When you’re buying a hard drive for your Synology NAS, you’re looking for two things: solid day-to-day performance, and long-term reliability. All of the drives highlighted below are designed for 24/7 NAS use cases, and excel at those two traits. I’ve used all the drives on this list, and considering I have a 120TB home server, I know a thing or two about picking the right HDD for a NAS enclosure.
I’ve been using two 14TB IronWolf drives for just under a year, and they’re rock-solid in 24/7 use. IronWolf drives feature Seagate’s AgileArray tech for better performance and reliability, and come with rotational vibration sensors to minimize vibrations. Starting with the 6TB model, all of the HDDs spin at 7200RPM, have a 180TB/year workload rating, and 1 million hours mean time between failures (MTBF). All IronWolf drives also feature CMR tech and come with a 3-year warranty as standard, and are ideal for NAS enclosures with up to 8 bays.
From $63 at Amazon
Still great, with a caveat
Western Digital Red
WD’s Red series is designed for NAS use, and all of the drives come with noise and vibration protection. Right now, WD is mired in a controversy for using SMR instead of CMR tech in select 4TB, 6TB, and 8TB Red drives. SMR is slower and generally not as reliable as CMR, so if you are interested in a Red drive, make sure you’re getting a drive that’s labeled CMR. You can get a 2TB, 3TB, or 4TB Red drive that uses CMR right now, and as long as you’re buying a CMR Red drive, you won’t have any issues.
From $90 at Amazon
Ideal for SOHO users
Seagate IronWolf Pro
Seagate’s IronWolf Pro drives are ideal for small office/home office (SOHO) users. All the drives in this series spin at 7200RPM, offer sequential reads of over 214MB/s, and have robust noise and vibration protection. You’ll also get Seagate’s drive health management system, and two-year data recovery service as standard. These drives are ideally suited for use in up to a 24-bay NAS enclosure, and come with a 300TB/year workload rating and 1.2 million hours mean time between failures (MTBF). They start at 2TB and go all the way to 16TB.
From $106 at Amazon
WD Red Pro
WD’s Red Pro is the ideal upgrade to the standard Red series. All the models in the Red Pro series feature CMR, spin at 7200RPM, and come with a 5-year warranty. They also have noise and vibration protection built-in, and are available in storage sizes from 2TB to 16TB. These drives also feature WD’s NASware 3.0 for tighter integration with NAS enclosures, and don’t get loud or hot. If you’re looking at a NAS for your home office, these are the ideal hard drives to slot into the enclosure.
From $100 at Amazon
The gold standard
The WD Gold series is aimed at data centers, and as such these drives are ideally suited for NAS use cases. They have a seven platter design, feature vibration protection, spin at 7200RPM, and deliver sustained reads of over 177MB/s. You get 2.5 million hours mean time between failures (MTBF), 550TB/year workload rating (three times as much as regular IronWolf drives), and a 5-year warranty as standard. These HDDs are built to last, and are available from 1TB to 14TB.
From $79 at Amazon
Build your own data center
Seagate Exos is what you turn to if you want data center-like reliability for your home office. These drives come with a 550TB/year workload rating, 2 million hours mean time before failures (MTBF), and a 5-year warranty as standard. They have rotational vibration tolerance, built-in efficiency features, and offer sequential reads of over 249MB/s. They’re very similar to the WD Gold, and the difference comes down to picking whatever brand you’re more comfortable using.
From $87 at Amazon
Toshiba’s N300 series is designed for NAS enclosures. These drives have a 180TB/year workload rating along with rotational vibrations sensors and built-in controls to detect excessive heat. Toshiba offers a 3-year warranty for the drives as standard, and they’re available in configurations from 4TB to 14TB. They spin at 7200RPM, and deliver sequential reads of up to 260MB/s.
From $124 at Amazon
A fantastic bargain
WD Easystore 8TB
Look, this isn’t a traditional hard drive, but WD’s Easystore enclosures are fantastic value for money. Just buy the enclosure, read these instructions on how to chuck the drive, and you have a 10TB or 12TB hard drive for significantly less than retail price. The HDDs inside these enclosures are just as reliable as regular WD Red or IronWolf drives (they’re the same HDD, but white labeled), and they slot into NAS enclosures without any issues. I’ve been using two 10TB shucked drives for a while now, and it has been smooth sailing.
$150 at Amazon
$140 at Best Buy
You can’t go wrong with any of these hard drives
Regardless of whatever drive you pick from the list above, you’re going to get 24/7 reliability and long-term stability. My go-to recommendation for a NAS drive in 2020 is the Seagate IronWolf. Seagate just delivers that little bit extra in terms of reliability, and having used two 14TB IronWolf drives for nearly a year now, I can confidently say that these drives are ideal for most NAS users. With options available from 1TB all the way to 16TB, you’ll find a drive that fits your needs.
If you need the added security of a 5-year warranty, then the IronWolf Pro is the obvious choice. These drives are better suited for home offices or small businesses, and the best part is that you get a two-year data recovery plan with each hard drive as standard. Starting out at 2TB and going all the way to 16TB, you won’t have any issues finding an IronWolf Pro drive that’s ideal for your use case.