Should you use low cost desktop HDD or high-price enterprise HDD for your NAS?
The time when there was only desktop HDD and enterprise HDD to choose from, I would suggest expensive enterprise HDs for server, NAS, or SAN, and only low-cost desktop HDD if low-price is a must for you.
Thing has changed. Just a little over a year ago, major HDD vendors Seagate and Western Digital released new series of HDD call NAS HDD, design specifically for Network Attached Storage. In addition to enterprise HDD and Desktop HDD, now you have NAS HDD to choose form.
Should you be paying a higher price for NAS HDD while low-cost desktop HDD will work just fine? Do those value-added features truly add value? And what are all those features anyway? Perhaps you shouldn’t be trusting your precious data to a consumer drive at all and investing in expensive enterprise drives instead? Surely the more you pay, the better the drive?
Many users opt for cheap consumer desktop HDD for their NAS units. After all, if they work fine in our desktop PC, what’s the problem with using cheap desktop HDD in an NAS, right?
Yes and no. Yes only if you use NAS as if it is a desktop PC without RAID. No if you’re running any type of RAID.
I’ve had a number of customers asked me why their RAID in their brand-new NAS units keeps degrading. It’s because they’re using cheap desktop HD. If this happens to you, it’s not the NAS units that are at fault. Problem is most likely caused by cheap general-purpose HDD.
Here’s a simple scenario that may or may not have happened to you, explain by the industry expert Sam Chen……
- You’re running a file transfer to your NAS and the power suddenly goes out. Oops! Should you protect the NAS with a UPS?! You go out and buy one.
- You turn the NAS back on once power is restored, and you initiate a rebuild. No big deal.
- In the power outage, one of your drives developed a bad sector. That’s pretty normal.
- You read the file with the bad sector, and the drive realizes that it can’t read the sector.
- In a typical desktop scenario, drives can take up to 20+ seconds to attempt a recovery of the bad sector. In a RAID setting, most RAID controllers only allow the drive around 7 seconds. After 7 seconds, the perfectly good consumer drive gets dropped out of the RAID. You get a message that says the “RAID array has degraded”. Crud.
- You insert a fresh hard drive and initiate a RAID rebuild. No big deal.
- Another drive in the RAID array realizes it’s got a bad block. Crud.
- Game over. Your RAID 5 is screwed. Good luck getting your files back in any sort of timely matter. If at all.
Thing like this happen all the time. I have seem customers keep replacing low-cost desktop HD on their NASs. It happens with Synology, Thecus, QNAP, and every other brand of NAS. It may not happen in a day or a week, but it always does happen. Don’t blame at your NAS units. These cheap HDD you removed from the NAS will most likely work just fine on a desktop PC.
Now that Sam had struck fear into your hearts and your souls, you may ask, “What do I need to do to protect myself from this situation?” The answer is you need HDs with error recovery controls feature. Have you had purchased NAS HDD that has error recovery controls for your NAS unit, you would not have to replace HDD as often as you have always done.
Your solution is pretty simple actually. Just populate your NAS units with HDDs that have some sort of error recovery controls.
Just a year ago, this meant you’d have to buy expensive enterprise class HDDs, something like Western Digital RE4’s, Seagate Constellation’s. The problem is that these enterprise HDD are twice or triple the price of regular desktop HDD. Of course, they also include enterprise validation, longer MTBF ratings, longer warranties, accelerometers, and a whole bunch of other stuff you probably don’t need and don’t really care for.
This is where NAS HDDs come in. Unlike your typical consumer hard drive, NAS HDDs include error recovery controls, but don’t include all the extra fluff that enterprise users need. This allows HDD vendors to keep pricing on the NAS drives closer to what we’d expect on consumer hard drives, yet the drives themselves won’t be a serious risk to your data.
Does it worth to replace all the desktop HDs already in your NAS units with the new NAS HDDs? I say yes. I think your valuable data, time, and system downtime will always cost more than cheap desktop HDD.