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Why The Disk You Put In Your NAS Matters

Reliable data storage is a necessity when you’re running any business. This is especially true as the value of your data grows and you want to ensure that you don’t lose any of it due to device failure. A step up from rudimentary external hard drives, network attached storage (NAS) can provide businesses with a centralised file management as well as options for better security and data protection, without the need to pay monthly cloud service fees.

To address various business requirements, today’s NAS devices come in a number of different form factors, specifications and price points. However, one factor that may be overlooked by many when it comes to getting the most out of their NAS is the disks that are used underneath the hood. Some thought has to go behind selecting a suitable hard drive when you are building a reliable NAS solution. Getting this part right can make a huge difference to how your NAS performs and lasts. The famous expression, ‘horses for courses’ comes to mind here because different drives are built for different purposes.

For example, you may think that you could save a few dollars by equipping your multi-enclosure NAS with low-cost (or even consumer-grade) desktop drives. But performance-wise, you will not be getting the bang for your buck and over the long run, it may cost you more because the disks are simply not built for reliability or longevity. On the other end of the scale, simply buying the top of the line, mission-critical drives won’t cut it either. Not only will they cost you more, they’re also not optimised for NAS usage, resulting in disappointing data access times for users.

Businesses should therefore avoid going for desktop or archive drives, but instead seriously consider the benefits of NAS-optimised drives. For one, NAS-optimised drives are specifically fine-tuned and designed to handle high workload rates in high data traffic networks that NAS devices typically operate in. While a desktop drive is able to effectively cater to one user at a time, delivering excellent performance to multiple concurrent users, simultaneously streaming data to multiple sources and delivering random data quickly are areas where NAS-optimised drives truly shine.

NAS-optimised drives are also built to be much more reliable in order to reduce the risk of outages and maximise storage uptime. Some of the best NAS-optimised drives come with a wide range of features to improve reliability. For example, Seagate’s IronWolf drives are equipped with AgileArray technology that provides advanced power management, extended error recovery controls to optimise RAID performance, low operating temperatures, and intelligent vibration tolerance. In addition, a feature called the IronWolf Health Management (IHM) also allows the NAS system to be constantly monitored so that users can take preventative actions to secure their data.

Ultimately, these benefits are crucial in helping businesses lower the total cost of ownership and achieve a positive return on investment of their NAS solutions. The large range of capacities of NAS-optimised drives, with the Seagate IronWolf series currently offering the highest capacity (up to 14 TB) in the industry, means more choices for businesses to choose the right fit for their budget and use case scenarios.

For those who really want to take the performance of their NAS setup to the next level, at CES last January, Seagate released what was the world’s first solid-state drives (SSD) built specifically for NAS. The IronWolf 110 NAS SSD series, with capacities from 240 GB up to 3.84 TB, also come with the AgileArray firmware to maximise drive performance for demanding always on and multi-user environments. These NAS-optimised SSDs can be used both in an all-flash array or in a NAS that is capable of tiered caching, which means your frequently accessed files are automatically tiered to the SSD to improve the NAS’ overall performance.

You can find out whether you’re using the right disk for your NAS by taking our short quiz.

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