My top pick and the best NAS hard drive that you can buy today is the Synology 2 bay NAS DiskStation. It features a dual-core CPU supporting high-speed file transfer with up to 112 MB/s writing speeds and provides live transcoding capability for dual 4K H 264/ H 265 video files. It comes in sizes up to 24 TB, which we found to be plenty large.
To help you buy a NAS hard drive for your home or office, we tried out dozens of models, connecting them to networks in order to test file transfer speed, high workload rates throughout a calendar year and compatibility with network attached storage (NAS) systems, with accompanying firmware and stellar customer support. We selected for a well-designed user interface, easy remote access, and compatibility with the most popular cloud service options. We favored NAS units with vibration sensing and heat tolerance for durability, to avoid the need for downtime when your drive fails. We kept a lookout for the best budget NAS hard drive as well as the best NAS HDD for home use. Keep reading to learn more about the WD Red NAS Hard Drive and the other models on this list.
Top 7 Best NAS Hard Drives
#1 Synology 2 bay NAS Hard Drive
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: Internal storage up to 24 TB along with such features as high speed encrypted file transfer, three USB ports, two drive bays and a hardware engine capable of simultaneous live transcoding with two H.264 (AVC) or H.265 (HEVC) video streams.
- Supports real-time 4k video transcoding
- Works with FTP, NFS, AFP, CIFS file sharing protocols
- Two camera IP licenses included
- Discs not included
- Setup can be time-consuming depending on user experience
One of the most compact NAS drives on the market, the Synology 2-bay DiskStation weighs less than three pounds empty but has enough processing and transcoding performance to deliver consistently high throughput workflow in a home or small office environment. It supports all the most common file transfer protocols and works with a capacity of up to 24 TB storage.
This Synology NAS hard drive comes with 2 GB of DDR3 RAM built-in but with the capacity to upgrade to 6 GB. It also has solid file sharing support and uses the Btrfs copy-on-write file system. It features AES-NI encryption acceleration and facilitates speedy access to your files from Windows, Linux, Mac and mobile devices via Synology QuickConnect. All in all, if you’re looking for a compact and relatively inexpensive network hard drive, this may be the best NAS drive for media streaming. If you prefer an SD drive, consider the best micro SD card instead.
#2 WD Red 4TB NAS Hard Drive
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: Suitable for use in drives with up to 8 bays, this 4 TB HDD comes with a 64 MB Cache, SATA 6 hardware interface and supports a claimed 180 TB/ year workload rate, making it the best HDD for NAS Synology and similar single to eight-bay disk stations.
- NASware 3.0 easily automates formatting
- 64 MB Cache
- Works with standard SATA 6 hardware interface
- Not the fastest HDD out there
- Less internal capacity than some of the other NAS hard drives
This 5400-rpm class Western Digital hard drive is sold singly and designed for NAS hard drives with up to eight bays. It holds 4 TB of storage capacity and has a 64 MB cache. While these may not be head turning specs on their own, this Western Digital Red drive is primarily designed for network hard drive use, and as such it supports a solid 180 TB/ year workflow and comes with a versatile hardware interface.
Ideal for small and home office NAS systems, these WD Red drives offer NASware 3.0 software which aims to streamline device compatibility with cloud services and make it easier to integrate, share and stream content, supporting a 24/7 connected workflow. Take a look at some of these other storage devices if you want to compare this with another option.
#3 Seagate IronWolf 12TB NAS Hard Drive
Award: Best Performing
WHY WE LIKE IT: Designed to offer scalable 24/7 performance and reduced maintenance costs, this hdd for network hard drive employs rotational vibration sensors to boost durability in multi-drive bay enclosures. It also offers a competitive 180 TB/ year workflow.
- Optimized for remote access
- 7200 rpm class rotation speed
- Dual plane balancing
- More expensive than some items on list
- May have higher power consumption than 5400 rpm drives
One of the most reliable NAS optimized storage external hard drives for desktop servers and home or office network servers, these Seagate drives are faster than the WD Red option, matching the speed and cache size of the more expensive WD Pro. This 7200 rpm drive has a 256 MB cache and comes with Seagate’s AgileArray interface for seamless file transfer and media integration. It also claims excellent RAID optimization for desktop server use.
In terms of durability, the Seagate Iron Wolf series stands out with its use of rotational vibration sensors, which along with dual plane balancing aim to preserve drive lifespan over extended heavy workflow, while managing power consumption in multi-bay environments. It also might be necessary to look into the best external hard drive for Mac that you can buy.
#4 Toshiba (HDWN180XZSTA) N300 8TB NAS 3.5-Inch NAS Hard Drive
Award: Best for Home Use
WHY WE LIKE IT: A claimed 1-million work hour lifespan with a 180TB/ year workflow, dedicated heat management and vibration sensors, and competitive storage specs make this the best NAS hard drive for RAID servers and among the best NAS drives for media streaming.
- Heat and vibration sensing for long last performance
- 8 TB per drive
- SATA 6.0 Mb/ s interface
- Smaller cache capacity than some picks
- Can be noisy during use
- Works best in systems designed for multiple drives
With a high throughput capacity and a claimed 1-million hour work lifetime, this 8 TB hdd for NAS is one of the leading choices for best value NAS drive on the market. It’s optimized for RAID desktop servers and designed primarily to go in systems with from 2 to 8 bays. This is excellent for home servers and small business needs, with typical overall capacity around 32-64 TB.
The Toshiba N300 hdd for NAS has vibration and heat sensors and boasts a claimed 180TB/ year workflow rate. However, for those looking to use this drive in a single drive environment, it does get somewhat hot and noisy during use. It works best in bays specifically designed for heat-generating fast rotating drives such as this one. If you want to use this external hard drive for gaming specifically, take a look at the best external hard drive for PS4.
#5 HGST Deskstar NAS 3.5-Inch 4TB NAS Hard Drive
Award: Best for Multi Bay Systems
WHY WE LIKE IT: Fast and high-performance storage for NAS drive systems with a good reputation for reliability, these Deskstar units are our pick for the best 4TB NAS hard drive in its class.
- 1 million hour claimed lifetime between failures
- SATA III interface
- 7200 RPM
- Noisy for desktop use
- Not the cheapest budget NAS hard drive
Optimized for use in multi-bay network drives, this 4 TB HDD for Synology and other network server devices offers 1 million hour MTBF and a 180 TB/year workflow rate capacity. It also comes with SATA III hardware interface, making it relatively easy to set up.
This 7200-rpm drive promises up to 20% faster data read and write speeds than comparable 5400 rpm drives, with enhanced thermal efficiency and vibration reduction compared to desktop drives. It’s suitable for use in network drives with one to eight bays. Power consumption is rated at 850mA hours on 12V power and.450mA on 5V. If you’re trying to find a storage device specifically for your xBox, take a look at the best external hard drives for xbox 1 too.
#6 HGST Ultrastar 3TB 64MB Cache 7200RPM SATA III 6.0Gb/s 3.5in NAS Hard Drive
Award: Best on a Budget
WHY WE LIKE IT: Heavy duty and long lasting, this 3.5 inch NAS HDD, this unit has 3 TB of storage and is optimized for 24/7 usage in multi-bay drives. It uses SATA III hardware interface and spins at 7200 rpm.
- Excels with media storage
- Optimized for durability
- 64 MB cache
- Not as much storage as some picks
For those looking for the best value NAS hard drive or for a budget-friendly solution to home network storage, this Ultrastar HDD provides a good mix of durability and performance. It works in multi-drive bays and is optimized for 24/7 usage. The company also offers a guarantee of no bad sectors, making it likely among the most durable and best budget NAS hard drives.
It uses SATA III hardware interface, has a 64 MB cache and spins up at 7200 rpm.The HGST is optimized as a NAS hard drive for streaming media and CCTV operations, making it great for small business security use as well as for use in desktop RAID server configurations.
#7 BUFFALO TeraStation 3410DN NAS Hard Drive
Award: Best Plug and Play Setup
WHY WE LIKE IT: This NAS drive comes with drivers pre-tested and pre-configured with RAID included, making it a convenient and budget-friendly ready-to-go NAS solution for home and small business storage.
- 4 drive bays for expandable storage
- RAID pre-configured drives included
- Optimized for 24/7 usage
- More expensive than 2-bay desktop drives
- Less capacity than with Synology NAS
Marketed as a more convenient setup for home NAS, this Buffalo network drive includes 4 drive bays and, unlike the Synology NAS (our top pick) it ships with NAS hard drives included. While the drives it comes with aren’t the highest capacity on the market–it comes with a set of 4 pre-configured 2 TB hdd for NAS, giving you 8 TB of storage, the ease with which this NAS unit lets you get started on a home network or small business network storage solution is a big plus.
This NAS hard drive is compatible with S3, Dropbox, Dropbox business, Microsoft Azure and OneDrive, making it easy to set up and get running with multiple users. It’s billed as being ideal for 10-30 users. It also supports 256-bit AES encryption, which we found to be handy. For easy wired connection with other devices, it includes an HDMI port.
How We Decided
In order to bring you our selections for the best NAS hard drive, we looked for durability, workflow capacity and compatibility, as well as data security and redundancy. To that end, we only considered disk stations with at least 2 bays capable of supporting 8 TB or more of total storage and with AES encryption support.
We included “plug and play” or ready to go NAS boxes which come with an enclosure, a hardware interface to run the hard drives, and a CPU with firmware to run file transfer protocols. We also included internal hard drives designed to be used in these NAS boxes or multi-bay desktop server systems.
When it came to the hard drives themselves, we limited our search to drives that were compatible with RAID configuration and optimized for 24/7 use. We looked for power consumption figures, where available, and insisted on a claimed throughput rate of at least 100 TB/ year.
Finally, we only looked at NAS hard drives for Mac, Linux and Windows compatible systems that used commonly-accessible hardware interfaces like SATA. To ensure performance in our selections for the best NAS hard drive for media streaming, we looked for at least 64 MB cache size and 5400 RPM.
Best NAS Hard Drive Buyer’s Guide
Features to Consider
Storage capacity can vary greatly among network hard drive systems. Depending on your needs, a 2TB HDD for NAS might be enough, but if you’re looking to integrate multiple media sources, or you’re looking for the best NAS drive for Plex servers, you’ll likely want to look into purchasing a 4TB product.
- Hardware Interface
Make sure the drives you’re considering are easy to format and set up with your existing hardware. A common, industry standard hardware interface such as the SATA III is a good start. This connection allows for specs of up to 6 Gigabits per second bandwidth. For a NAS unit or home RAID desktop server unit, look for convenient and high bandwitdh physical connection options. If you plan to use the NAS with media devices relying on HDMI interfaces, make sure it comes with an HDMI port.
- Cache Size
For desktop servers and single drive systems, a large, 128 or 256 GB cache may be necessary in order to ensure speed of retrieval and overall performance, whereas for use cases such as CCTV libraries, a smaller 64 GB cache is likely enough.
- Vibration and Heat Sensors
Especially important when looking for a long-term storage solution or if you’re trying to find the best value NAS HDD in terms of operating costs, heat and vibration sensors add to durability and extend the lifetime of individual hard drives. HDD for NAS systems are designed to withstand the rigors of 24/7 usage and the heat and vibration of multiple drive bay server enclosures.
- Workflow capacity
Most of the best hard drives advertise at least 180 TB/ Year workflow; this is important if you plan to use the NAS as a primary data storage or backup for home or office use.
MTBF is a statistical term and stands for “mean time between failures.” Used in the context of external hard drive and drive failure, this provides an estimate of the claimed lifetime of a product. The best NAS drives will have an MTBF of around 1 million power-on hours.
There are many storage devices to choose from like the best external hard drive for Xbox one, the best external hard drive for PS4. There’s also the best external hard drive for Mac that you can buy. Which is why we test these devices to make sure they are top rated. We even put in the hours on the best micro SD card.