Western Digital produces numerous categories of drives, broken down by an easily identifiable colour scheme. Ranging from Blue hard drives intended for desktop use, to impressively fast Black solid-state drives for high-end gaming PCs and next-generation consoles. Their Red drives are designed to be compatible with network-attached storage (NAS) systems, with multiple terabyte capacities for expansive back-ups and storage. If you’re looking to build a NAS set-up, Western Digital’s WD Red drives are perfectly suited for the task.
Hard drives vs. solid-states drives: What’s the difference?
Spinning, mechanically operated hard drives (HDDs) became less popular in consumer-orientated devices once speedy, all-digital solid-state drives (SSDs) became increasingly common. Portable, thin and light devices like laptops are heavily reliant on SSDs for their space-saving form factor and reassuring reliability, with no articulating parts to jostle or rattle about during transportation. For storage, SSDs are solely compromised of flash memory chips directly soldered to a circuit board which can be accessed instantaneously for increased speeds.
In direct comparison, HDDs consist of multiple moving, delicate parts. An actuator and its associated arm meticulously reposition a head to access data from a spinning platter which stores the data. It takes time to physically move this intricate contraption. This isn’t an issue when data is stored sequentially in one location on the platter. When data is scattered across the platter however, the retrieval rate of data starts to slow down.
Hard drives for NAS
Hard drives have one major advantage over solid-state drives making them prime candidates for a network-attached storage (NAS) device – their capacity. HDDs are a matured technology, battle-tested and iterated upon for decades. Over time their costs have plummeted, with multiple terabyte drives readily available at affordable prices. SSDs prices continually trend downwards year after year, but a similarly sized HDD would cost substantially less. Internal SSDs are available from 250GB to 4TB capacities, whereas HDDs are available from 1TB to 18TB (or terabyte). Think of a NAS as an standalone, always-on drive which doesn’t need a computer to run. It operates independently and can be accessed wirelessly via the network from any device to store and share files. They’re great for regular back-ups and storing larger files, instead of bloating your device’s storage.
Why do I need a NAS?
For masses of long-term storage, HDDs firmly remain the go-to solution. The line-up of WD Red drives is specially envisioned for this use case. For data-driven businesses, having a NAS device to reliably store and neatly organise files is essential. But home users too are discovering the benefits of NAS.
Local back-ups of invaluable family memories, decade’s worth of a carefully curated music library, films and more. Rather than constantly contending with frustrating ‘storage full’ pop-ups on your personal computer, store sizable files on a dedicated NAS device loaded up with WD Red drives. Crucially, you can then simultaneously stream the NAS’s content to multiple devices on your network. Instead of tediously re-downloading files just to store them on induvial devices, leverage the WD Red drives as a centralised hub for all things digital.
The right drive for your workload
WD Red Hard Drives are available in three flavours, WD Red, WD Red Plus and WD Red Pro, each of which is tailored to meet your specific workload needs. WD Red is ideal for home use, WD Red Plus for small office and WD Red Pro for more intensive usage like small businesses or video editing up to 24 bays. This covers the full range of applications, from home office environments, effortlessly managing working from home demands to distributing reports and creating back-ups as the ideal business storage solution. Having all your work in one easily managed place is a game-changer for organisation and productivity.
WD Red hard drive capacities range from 1 terabyte up to an impossible sounding 18 terabytes, on a single drive! With multiple drives linked together in a NAS set-up, you’ll have plenty of accessible storage for all your needs.
Accelerating a NAS with SSD cache
It’s technically feasible to fill up a NAS with super-fast SSDs, but it would be ridiculously expensive and frankly overkill for most conventional workloads. However, an SSD can be smartly leveraged as super-fast cache to accelerate the capabilities of the NAS device, striking the ideal middle ground between price and performance. If you’re constantly accessing loads of small files on your NAS, which we’ve established are HDDs routine hurdle, caching them to an SSD instead will boost performance significantly.
WD Red SSDs are purposely engineered for this exact use case. These specialised SSDs withstand write-heavy workloads often deployed on a NAS device, like a file or back-up server, for increased longevity. It isn’t advised to simply chuck in any off the shelf SSD in your set-up, as conventional SSDs are purely focused on blazingly-fast read speeds and not so much their write capabilities or longevity. This endurance characteristic is rated in TBW or Terabytes Written.
If you primarily use your WD Red drives to stream single large files like playing back video, an SSD cache isn’t entirely necessary as it’ll read the file sequentially. However, if you’ve got multiple concurrent users trying to simultaneously access smaller files in a shared office environment, or run virtual machines or databases, an SSD cache makes a noticeable difference and optimises performance to meet the increasing network bandwidth now available.
WD Red: Optimised for NAS
In an always-on environment like NAS, your HDDs could be constantly spinning. For reliable operation, WD Red HDDs feature NASWare™ 3.0 technology and are rated at up to 300TB/year and five-year warranty for the WD Red Pro models. Their hardened endurance extends to a mean time between failures (MTBF) of up to 1 million hours for long-lasting deployment. If you’re looking to kit out a NAS set-up, check out Ebuyer’s range of WD Red hard drives and solid-state drives, here.