Skip to main content

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

NAS-Oriented Hard Drives, With A Twist

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.

  • f-14
    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.
    Reply
  • EzioAs
    10445415 said:
    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.
    Reply
  • JeTJL
    Read some reviews with people experiencing their drives catching on fire.

    Such a shame though I would of wanted some for my new FreeNAS server. Till then I'll be using some 2.5 drives pulled from some laptops.
    Reply
  • enewmen
    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.
    Reply
  • mocchan
    I definitely need to pick up a few of these drives, they're looking pretty sweet to be honest.
    Reply
  • epsiloneri
    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.
    10445417 said:
    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?
    Reply
  • EDVINASM
    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 :)
    Reply
  • rantoc
    Caviar Green's in raid 5 or 6 depending on how much fault tolerance you need for a home nas - ftw!
    Reply
  • vipervoid1
    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 ~
    Reply
  • ZakTheEvil
    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.
    Reply