NAS server

Synology 2019 Buying Guide Part 4: Which drive should you buy in 2019 for your NAS?

Are you looking for a Synology NAS but you find all the models confusing? How big should your disks be? RAID or not RAID? Many questions, many decisions before you know what you need to buy.

I am in the process of buying my third synology, so I decided to document the process, so you can follow my journey and hopefully it will help you decide!

In this upcoming series, I want to guide you through the buying process and the installation of a Synology NAS.

  1. Part 1: Explaining Synology NAS models
  2. Part 2: Storage needs
  3. Part 3: Which synology should I buy then?
  4. Part 4: HDD or SSD? (this post)

In this blog post I will explain the different types of drives available and how to choose the one for your NAS.

Lets get started!!!

Quick recap

If you have been following this series, you probably have decided which NAS you want to buy and how much storage and disks you will need, so the remaining question here are:

  1. Should I buy SSD or HDD?
  2. Which manufacturer, type and model do I need?

Let’s try to answer these questions in this post.

HDD or SSD

First things first in case you don’t know:

  1. HDD stands for hard drives and are mechanical drives, you know, like vinyl record players back in the days:I opened up one of the hard drives that failed on my second NAS, (more about it at the end of the post), so in case you are curious, this is how they look inside.
    And then we have SSD , which stands for soft drive and it doesn’t have any moving parts. Most modern laptops have these types of drives as they take less space, quieter etc, but let’s talk about benefits and disadvantages in a second. This is how they look:

HHD vs SSD, which one should I pick?

You might be reading this convinced that the SSD has to be the right choice and let me tell you already now: not quite. Here is why.

SSD Advantages:

  1. SSD drives do not have moving parts so they are smaller, take less space. That is important for laptops not so much NASes.
  1. SSD drives are a lot faster than HDDs. They have faster reads and writes, a lot faster!
  2. No noise as they dont have moving parts
  3. They consume less power

SSD Disadvantages:

  1. Life span is shorter for an SSD, specially if you have a lot of writes and
  2. They are waaaaayyyyyy more expensive that HDDs, even if prices have gone down considerably in the last years.
  3. Even though SSDs are faster on writes and reads, you are limited by what your NAS can do (in terms of specs) and your internet connectors, the speeds that you have contracted with your internet supplier. Bummer.

HDD Advantages:

  1. HDDs are made for mass storage (are your NAS ears ringing now?). HDDs are made for being written on.
  2. They are cheaper, a lot cheaper that a SSD so you can buy more storage for less money: say 1TB is 40$ HDD vs 250$ for a SSD. (prices will vary based on location, model etc, but so get an idea)
  3. You can find bigger sizes if you are going for massive storage.
  4. Larger RAID configurations.

HDD Disadvantages:

  1. They are bulkier and
  2. they are much slower than SSDs.
  3. You will hear a low buzz in the background when the disks are spinning.
  4. They consume more power.

So, which one should I buy?

Well, HDDs for sure. If you need faster speeds, some synologies allow for SSD caches, like the DS918+, so you can kind of get the best of both worlds.

I bought that NAS so I will be testing the SSD cache and see how it performs and , of course, will write a blog post afterwards.

Which drive class,manufacturer and model should I buy?

There are a quite a few classes and manufacturers of HDDs out there.

Synology has a list of compatible drives here, but don’t worry, I will let you know which ones are my favorite and why here.

Let’s start with HDD classes, it is important that you get this right if you want your drives to last.

Select your Drive type (or class)

Currently there are four types of classes of drives:

  1. Desktop drives: and as the name says, they are designed to be used on desktop or laptops.
  1. Enterprise drives: these drives are made for NASes that handle multiple users, high performance and high availability, virtual storages, etc, but all those bells and whistles come at a price, a high one obviously, so if you are on a budget, there is a third class:
  1. NAS drives: better than desktop drives but cheaper than enterprise drives and for most NAS users, the perfect pick.
  1. And there is actually a fourth category made for video and 24/7 use called surveillance drives. I guess the name also gave the use away right?

Good! We now know that we want NAS drives, which lead us to the next question: which maker should I pick?

Choosing a drive manufacturer

There are two kings in this jungle (NAS drives jungle that is) and they are:

  • Western Digital or WD and
  • Seagate

Let me make this one really easy for you, you can’t go wrong with either of them, but don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging, I will explain which ones I got and why.

The main contestants on this battle are:

Ok let’s do this:

Seagate Ironwolf vs WD Red

Just so you get an idea right out of the bat, it is like asking:

Coke or Pepsi?

Read online and you will find passionate reviews for and against both and at the end, it all comes down to preference and believe me, the differences are marginal.

But you have to pick one right? I did, and I went for the WD Red. Here is the main reason why:

I bought my first NAS in 2013 and I mounted 2x3TB WD Reds (see my gear for more info) and they have yet to fail!! ( it is 2019 when writing this).

Talk about me being over the moon happy ๐Ÿ˜ƒ!

Don’t run now to buy a pair of Reds because there is more to the story. For my second NAS, being so happy with my first purchase, I bought again a pair of 3TB Reds. In one year the first one failed (the picture above is that drive) and a few months later the other one failed too ๐Ÿค’!

I didn’t realize for my first failure that WD has 3 years warranty and obviously when I opened it up the warranty was voided (talk about curiosity killed the cat!!), but didn’t do the same mistake on my second failure.

The warranty process was a bit of a pain because you have to send WD a new drive (cost on you) before they send a new one and when your data is hanging on one drive only, a few weeks feel like an eternity. (It was actually my dad’s data, mine is backed up to the teeth!)

I am prepared now though, I bought one immediately and changed it and now I have the replacement I got from WD as an emergency replacement (kind of a manual hot drive ๐Ÿ™‚

I don’t know how the process is for seagate, but I know that for the higher end Ironwolfs they have 5 years warranty and that is a lot for a NAS drive.

Something the seagate has going for themselves too is that they are partnering with synology and you can monitor their health easier and better natively on the DSM.

…..and they are slightly cheaper (in Europe at least)! Not much, like 50$ but hey, cheaper.

So when I bought my third NAS you probably think I moved to Seagates right? Well…. no, I didn’t. I still went for the WDs, this time 4x10TB Reds.

Are you mad, woman?? -You might wonder…

Let me explain why:

  • First of all, I think the two drives that failed were a bad batch (serial nos really close to each other)
  • Second, my two first drives are still alive an kicking, so that is my proof that they are great drives
  • Seagate is a bit late entering the NAS drive market while WD has been doing it forever
  • WD drives spin slower which should give less noise, less temperature and last longer.

Last note that might help you decide, as the Seagates spin faster, they are faster drives at a cost of reliability and noise.

So it is your choice now.

Which one did you pick and why?

Let me know in the comments box, just curious!

2 thoughts on “Synology 2019 Buying Guide Part 4: Which drive should you buy in 2019 for your NAS?

  1. Hi Ruth, have read your post with interest. I wonder though why you haven’t had a look at the speed of your Synology [S.] – is this not of importance for you?
    I have had a DS214+ for quite a few years and I’m looking to update, soon. As speed is quite important for me (I am video cutting as a hobby which creates quite large files and I’d like to somehow utilize my NAS in the process – most likely as a fast means of backup) I wonder what S. is doing. All DS21x(+) models have a read/write speed of not much more than 120 MB/s over the network – even with Link aggregation, 1 connected computer can only use the speed of 1 GBit LAN connection, as a maximum (a 2nd connected computer would be able to use the speed of max. another 1 GBit link). As speeds of (mechanical) HDs nowadays are at around 300 MB/s I consider this a waste – even the 6 years old HDs in my DS214+ are much faster than what this NAS can deliver. This and also the fact that it has become affordable are the reasons why I have started looking at building a 10 GBit/s network for me and also at 10 GBit/s NAS’s. While I really do love the user interface of my NAS it seems S. is charging really much to get the same functionality Qnap is offering – the Qnap TVS-472XT ia a 4-bay-NAS that has 1x 10 GBit Base-T + 2x 1 GBit LAN ports + 1 Thunderbolt 3 connection, also serving as a Mac network interface (which you would normally have to buy as an extra! – this feature might get me on board) while with S. you have to buy either a rack-mounted 4-bay-NAS or a 6-bay-standalone-NAS that requires you to retrofit a 10 GBit card…
    Just for consideration: these are the synology speeds: https://www.synology.com/en-global/products/performance
    Here you can find the same from Qnap: https://www.qnap.com/en/product_x_performance/product.php

    Greetings – I hope I can add some more insight on NAS considerations to be made…
    Guenther

    1. Hi! There are several factors to consider when talking about speed ( my amateur take on it) : hd or sd, RAM, processor and internet speeds.
      The combinations of those will determine how fast you NAS is.
      I donโ€™t own a QNAP, so I canโ€™t tell if they are faster under the same conditions, but thanks for sharing your data! I am sure it will be useful for others ๐Ÿ™‚
      /Ruth

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