Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Western Digital Red: NAS-Specific SATA 6Gb/s Drives, Reviewed

Western Digital Red: NAS-Specific SATA 6Gb/s Drives, Reviewed
By , Achim Roos

Western Digital just launched its new Red family of mechanical hard drives, optimized specifically for home and small office/home office (SOHO) network-attached storage devices. The company sent its 2 and 3 TB models for us to benchmark and review.

When power users and small offices populate their network-attached storage devices with hard drives, they typically lean on desktop-oriented disks in protective RAID arrays, if only because they're less expensive. Really, though, those drives are well-suited for life in a NAS, with other mechanical devices clacking around. For example, Seagate’s Barracuda hard drives aren’t certified for the continuous operation networked-storage imposes. There are a handful of exceptions, of course, like Hitachi's Deskstar, which the company says can handle the demands of 24x7 availability. But, at the end of the day, they're still desktop disks intended for client workloads.

Nearline Hard Drives

In order to achieve more robust reliability in a multi-drive array, you really need to look at purpose-built nearline hard drives. They're optimized, both at the firmware and hardware levels, to serve up higher endurance and reliability.

The usual criteria for evaluating hard drives, such as speed and price per gigabyte, are still important in the design of nearline storage. But there are other added considerations taken into account as well like reliability, a low thermal profile, and moderate power consumption. The mechanical components of nearline drives are improved to be more robust than their desktop counterparts as they cope with the increased heat of continuous operation. Manufacturers build the drives to higher, more stringent, standards, and step up their testing and quality control.

Those enhancements aren't free, of course. Nearline disks are more expensive than comparable desktop drives. They do tend to come with a longer warranty, though.

Enterprise and nearline drives like Hitachi's Ultrastar, Seagate's Constellation, and Western Digital's RE4 families feature up to five platters and spin at 7200 RPM more. In order to operate in an environment with many other mechanical storage devices, they sport rotational vibration (RV) sensors that allow them to optimize head position to avoid longer seek times due to vibrations from other drives. Typically, desktop drives are rated for 2400 power-on-hours per year, with Seagate's Barracuda 7200.14 standing in as our example. Nearline drives, on the other hand, are good for up to 8760 hours per year, the 24x7 availability equivalent.

A NAS-Oriented Alternative To Nearline: Western Digital Red

Western Digital's Red family is positioned in between the desktop and nearline drives. They're meant neither for typical desktop usage nor for large 19-inch rack-mounted servers. Instead, they’re being aimed at home office and small office network-attached storage appliances.

The resulting piece of hardware includes a blend of features from desktop and nearline drives. For instance, the 5400 RPM spindle speed is typical of entry-level desktop drives, while 24x7 operation is taken from the nearline playbook. The Western Digital Red is available in capacities of 1, 2, and 3 TB. The two larger-capacity models include SATA 6Gb/s connectivity, and they're the offerings we have in the lab today.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 64 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 16 Hide
    EzioAs , July 24, 2012 5:30 AM
    Quote:
    the reviews say these drives aren't very good, they are prone to high failure rates similar to the 1TB 7200 rpm 64mb cache caviar black drives they make. i thought maybe it was just me, but the reviews say other wise.


    Where did you read that? I just finished reading Tom's review and found out that these are excellent in terms of power, temperature and price for SOHO NAS use. Not sure about the reliability just yet though since they are pretty new on the market.
  • 15 Hide
    epsiloneri , July 24, 2012 8:16 AM
    Thanks for the review, these kind of articles are the reason I keep check in on Tom's now and then (I'm not interested in buyer's guides, hardware is what interests me). These kind of drives have really been missing from the market, the enterprise ones are just too expensive for home users.
    Quote:
    Read some reviews with people experiencing their drives catching on fire.

    Eh, can you provide a source for that spectacular claim, or are you just trolling?
  • 12 Hide
    EDVINASM , July 24, 2012 8:21 AM
    epsiloneriThanks for the review, these kind of articles are the reason I keep check in on Tom's now and then (I'm not interested in buyer's guides, hardware is what interests me). These kind of drives have really been missing from the market, the enterprise ones are just too expensive for home users. Eh, can you provide a source for that spectacular claim, or are you just trolling?


    I second that. Nothing on Google regarding WD Red issues or fire hazards. I have ordered 2 of these and I am going to enjoy them, never mind few trolls around - I have hater blocking glasses :) 
Other Comments
  • 16 Hide
    EzioAs , July 24, 2012 5:30 AM
    Quote:
    the reviews say these drives aren't very good, they are prone to high failure rates similar to the 1TB 7200 rpm 64mb cache caviar black drives they make. i thought maybe it was just me, but the reviews say other wise.


    Where did you read that? I just finished reading Tom's review and found out that these are excellent in terms of power, temperature and price for SOHO NAS use. Not sure about the reliability just yet though since they are pretty new on the market.
  • 7 Hide
    enewmen , July 24, 2012 6:17 AM
    I think this class of drives are needed. I hope to read more about these and some long-term tests.
    I personally only read good things about the Red drives - the low heat, low noise, low vibration, and low power consumption, low idle power consumption, and of course reliability are more important to me than maximum performance in its intended environment (even if some faster spinning drives have slightly more performance per watt).
    Now I can't wait to put these drives in a Synology DS413 when they are released.
  • 5 Hide
    mocchan , July 24, 2012 7:06 AM
    I definitely need to pick up a few of these drives, they're looking pretty sweet to be honest.
  • 15 Hide
    epsiloneri , July 24, 2012 8:16 AM
    Thanks for the review, these kind of articles are the reason I keep check in on Tom's now and then (I'm not interested in buyer's guides, hardware is what interests me). These kind of drives have really been missing from the market, the enterprise ones are just too expensive for home users.
    Quote:
    Read some reviews with people experiencing their drives catching on fire.

    Eh, can you provide a source for that spectacular claim, or are you just trolling?
  • 12 Hide
    EDVINASM , July 24, 2012 8:21 AM
    epsiloneriThanks for the review, these kind of articles are the reason I keep check in on Tom's now and then (I'm not interested in buyer's guides, hardware is what interests me). These kind of drives have really been missing from the market, the enterprise ones are just too expensive for home users. Eh, can you provide a source for that spectacular claim, or are you just trolling?


    I second that. Nothing on Google regarding WD Red issues or fire hazards. I have ordered 2 of these and I am going to enjoy them, never mind few trolls around - I have hater blocking glasses :) 
  • -3 Hide
    rantoc , July 24, 2012 10:43 AM
    Caviar Green's in raid 5 or 6 depending on how much fault tolerance you need for a home nas - ftw!
  • 6 Hide
    vipervoid1 , July 24, 2012 10:48 AM
    f-14the reviews say these drives aren't very good, they are prone to high failure rates similar to the 1TB 7200 rpm 64mb cache caviar black drives they make. i thought maybe it was just me, but the reviews say other wise.


    my Black 1TB 7200rpm 32MB cache
    Used for about 4 years long ~
    nvr gt any problem ~
  • 8 Hide
    ZakTheEvil , July 24, 2012 11:00 AM
    rantocCaviar Green's in raid 5 or 6 depending on how much fault tolerance you need for a home nas - ftw!


    Except that most RAID manufacturers specifically warn against using Caviar Green drives in RAID arrays due to IntelliPower technology causing problems with RAID due to their firmware not being optimized for RAID.
  • 1 Hide
    hannibal , July 24, 2012 11:04 AM
    Good for fast video streaming in home usage. So guite usefull in video and music server... Low power and low heat... I can see that there is a plase for HD like this!

    There is allso a raid test of this HD: http://www.storagereview.com/western_digital_red_nas_hard_drive_review_wd30efrx
  • 6 Hide
    Saxie81 , July 24, 2012 11:16 AM
    Why wasn't TLER mentioned in the review?? Being that it's one of the huge benefits while using these drives in a RAID config....
  • 1 Hide
    boiler1990 , July 24, 2012 12:59 PM
    Defintely going to buy a pair for my home server. I was looking at enterprise drives, but they're quite expensive. Power consumption numbers for therse are fantastic - I'm looking at an always-on server drawing under 50W :D 
  • 0 Hide
    serendipiti , July 24, 2012 1:24 PM
    I think this is, in fact, the scenario for HDDs in the future, as SSDs will eventually replace them in other segments.
    This kind of product line will replace desktop oriented lines as top sales HDD...
  • 0 Hide
    rdc85 , July 24, 2012 1:32 PM
    I can use this for cctv storage's, if it's 24x7 and reability is true and the price is in right spot....
  • 2 Hide
    CaedenV , July 24, 2012 1:40 PM
    I am curious about RAID performance of these drives as that is what they are intended for. Do they scale better in RAID performance compared to (let's just say) an F4? Could we have a RAID roundup? See performance in RAID 0, 1 and 5 for some of these popular Home/Office storage drives?


    At some point in the next year I am finally going to get my little home server up and running, and I am looking at a 9-10TB RAID5, which would be ~$800 with 4 3TB Red drives (or ~$600 with normal drives). But then you look at things like hybrid drives, or even SSDs if they continue their insane price drops and can up the size limits on more civilian units, and I begin to wonder if this next year is simply the wrong time to jump on such an investment with HDD tech going out the window, but SSDs not quite ready for prime time yet.
  • 1 Hide
    penguintech , July 24, 2012 3:14 PM
    Would love to upgrade to one of these drives, one day... when I can upgrade one of my older systems to run as a server.
  • -4 Hide
    rantoc , July 24, 2012 3:49 PM
    ZakTheEvilExcept that most RAID manufacturers specifically warn against using Caviar Green drives in RAID arrays due to IntelliPower technology causing problems with RAID due to their firmware not being optimized for RAID.


    The raid chips/card manufacturers that can't get them to work well with their hardware/drivers then yes - they recommend you stay clear of them for their product shortcomings. Not all manufacturers however have those issues so its fully possible to build a huge fault tolerant NAS with very low power consumption and descent sequential transfers for unsurpassed bang for the buck... That is however requiring the consumer know what components to choose, apparently some here don't know such things and rather blindly follow their favorite brands recommendation and spend loads of extra cash for nothing, if that is what you consider clever then by all means - Go ahead and recommend people from being clever and at the same time help the environment! For me that choice is very simple. Several years running 24/7 with no issues at all on a 8 drive raid 6 proves what i need to know!
  • 0 Hide
    Luscious , July 24, 2012 4:02 PM
    These would be sweet inside those compact QNAP NAS boxes and wouldn't cost a lot to set up either. I like the idea of a small 2-drive RAID0 setup running 24/7 as a network backup solution and DLNA media server.
  • 3 Hide
    nforce4max , July 24, 2012 5:29 PM
    I trust consumer reviews a lot more than reviews on sites such as this when it comes to reliability. A lot of companies over the years are well known that once in a while they will cherry pick before sending ANY thing off to any review site such as this while providing vastly different quality to consumers. I learned my lesson when it came to power supplies (bought into NZXT).
Display more comments