Despite the upswing of the cloud and increasingly cheaper SSDs, the most convenient and most affordable way to store large amounts of data is still a hard disk drive. In this article we take a look at 18 models meant for use in a NAS.
Hard drives might not be the cutting edge in terms of computer technology; for now there is not a cheaper way to store data. Nowadays there are a lot of affordable consumer models that offer an enormous capacity of 10 TB. If you want to store a lot of data locally, you cannot ignore this option.
A useful way to realize this is to use the hard drives in a network attached storage, or NAS. This has a lot of advantages compared to placing your drives in a system. For example, with a NAS every computer in the network can access the data. The rest of the functionality depends on if you purchase a cheap and ‘bare’ NAS purely for storage, or if you purchase a more expensive model with more features. The more expensive NAS-devices can download on their own and allow you to access your data through the internet (or with the use of certain smartphone-apps).
There are NAS-devices that are 1-bay, 2-bay or 4-bay (and more, but these are less common), where every bay can hold a hard drive. Most people purchase a NAS with at least two bays, in part because this makes RAID possible. With hard drives RAID 1 and RAID 5 are most commonly used, in order to increase the reliability. A lot of people use it as backup, but that is not something we advise. The primary purpose of RAID 1 and 5 is to allow people to access their data as quickly as possible and to minimize the loss of productivity. It is not a backup. There are certainly times when a RAID 5-array fails, meaning you lose all data. It is best to create a backup on a different system – and for extremely important data, at another physical location.
NAS-devices do have the disadvantage of being rather expensive more often than not. Sometimes the NAS costs more than the drives you put in it, especially if you purchase a NAS with a lot of features and a high throughput. That said, the throughput is usually limited by the network connection to a maximum of about 125 MB/sec, unless both your NAS as well as your system support teaming. This is something to bear in mind when looking at the benchmark results. A lot of hard drives will not reach their maximum speeds in a NAS because of these bottlenecks.
The limited added value of speed also goes for a PC. At the moment, data that can use a high speed (operating systems and programs) are placed on an SSD. Even the fastest hard drive is not a worthy alternative compared to an SSD when it comes to this. With large-scale storage a higher speed is of course great, but not crucial.