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Best NAS hard drives 2023: Seagate, Western Digital, and more

Store all the things with these high capacity NAS HDDs.

Buying the right 3.5-inch drive for your NAS is crucial since you’re going to rely on it to safely store all your data. You can’t simply use any old drive off the shelf, which is why we’ve compiled a list of only the best NAS hard drives for use inside enclosures.

  1. Best overall: Seagate IronWolf Pro — ~20TB, 24 bays, 285MB/s, 5-year warranty
  2. Runner-up: Western Digital Red Pro — ~12TB, 24 bays, ~265MB/s, 5-year warranty
  3. Best budget: Seagate IronWolf — ~18TB, ~240MB/s, 3-year warranty
  4. Best value: Western Digital Red Plus — ~14TB, ~210MB/s, 3-year warranty
  5. Best enterprise: Seagate Exos — ~20TB, ~285MB/s, 5-year warranty
  6. Best surveillance: Seagate SkyHawk — ~20TB, 260MB/s, 5-year warranty

What is the best NAS hard drive?

We’d always recommend against using normal hard drives inside a NAS because they’re not designed for continuous use and don’t come with some of the features specially designed for servers. Seagate, Western Digital, Toshiba, and other brands have a collection of NAS-focused hard drives.

Important metrics to consider when shopping around include price per GB to maximize your spending, transfer speed, motor speed, maximum bay support, cache, and workload. But really, for a home NAS, you’ll be absolutely fine with the cheapest NAS hard drive.

We’ve written up comprehensive guides on Western Digital Red, Red Plus, and Red Pro as well as Seagate IronWolf vs. IronWolf Pro. These should aid you in better understanding the differences between the family of drives.

1. Seagate Ironwolf Pro: Best overall NAS hard drive

Seagate IronWolf Pro
Seagate IronWolf Pro. (Source: Seagate)

Our thoughts: We’re recommending the Seagate IronWolf Pro, not because it’s outright better than the Western Digital Red Pro, but because the drive with the least capacity has better specs. This makes it great to get into the pro range of drives without spending too much.

Seagate IronWolf Pro
Capacity4 – 20 TB
Max drive bays24
Motor speed7,200 RPM
Transfer rate214 – 285 MB/s
Workload300 TB/yr
Cache256 MB
$ per GB$0.03
Warranty5 years
  • Wide away of capacities
  • High workloads
  • Good warranties
  • Good value
  • Loud and power-hungry
  • Bay limits
DriveBaysSpeedWorkloadWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Seagate IronWolf Pro 4TB24214MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$130$0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 6TB24214MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$180$0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 8TB24214MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$260$0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 10TB24250MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$270$0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 12TB24250MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$320$0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 14TB24250MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$360$0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 16TB24260MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$368$0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 18TB24285MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$420$0.03
Seagate IronWolf Pro 20TB24285MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$430$0.03

The Seagate IronWolf Pro range of NAS hard drives offers capacities between 4TB and 20TB. They are capable of being installed in a configuration of up to 24 bays. With a workload rate of 300TB per year and a warranty of five years, you’ll be able to rely on them for long-term storage of data.

While we’re talking about mechanical drives here, these things aren’t necessarily slow (aside from when compared to an SSD). The 4TB Seagate IronWolf Pro is capable of hitting up to 214MB/s, which is enough to saturate the two 1Gb network connections frequently found on prebuilt NAS enclosures.

The 20TB variant takes this up to 285MB/s, so you can have a lot running on the drive before you encounter a bottleneck not found elsewhere. Prices vary between capacities, but we’ve found the entire range to offer up to $0.03 per GB, which is a small price to pay when you compare the price to cloud subscriptions over a number of years.

Seagate IronWolf Pro
Seagate IronWolf Pro. (Source: Seagate)

Seagate IronWolf Pro

Seagate’s best NAS drive is the IronWolf Pro. It supports up to 24 bays, has better endurance, and is fast enough for most use cases. The entire range also offers great value at $0.03 per GB.


2. Western Digital Red Pro: Runner-up best NAS hard drive

Western Digital Red Pro
Western Digital Red Pro. (Source: WD)

Our thoughts: Whilst you may not be able to match the specs of lesser capacity drives from Seagate, Western Digital does have the upper hand in terms of value and capacity. You can even buy a 22TB Red Pro drive for the ultimate storage machine.

Western Digital Red Pro
Capacity2 – 22 TB
Max drive bays24
Motor speed7,200 RPM
Transfer rate164 – 272 MB/s
Workload300 TB/yr
Cache64 – 512 MB
$ per GB$0.02 – $0.04
Warranty5 years
  • Wide away of capacities
  • High workloads
  • Good warranties
  • Good value
  • Loud and power-hungry
  • Bay limits
DriveBaysSpeedWorkloadWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Western Digital Red Pro 2TB24164MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$84$0.04
Western Digital Red Pro 4TB24217MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$130$0.04
Western Digital Red Pro 6TB24238MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$200$0.03
Western Digital Red Pro 8TB24235MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$248$0.03
Western Digital Red Pro 10TB24265MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$282$0.03
Western Digital Red Pro 12TB24240MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$320$0.03
Western Digital Red Pro 14TB24255MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$304$0.03
Western Digital Red Pro 16TB24259MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$300$0.02
Western Digital Red Pro 18TB24272MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$410$0.02
Western Digital Red Pro 20TB24268MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$500$0.02
Western Digital Red Pro 22TB24265MB/s300 TB/yr5 years$600$0.02

Western Digital’s Red Pro series of NAS hard drives are designed for more serious storage requirements. They offer the same 300TB per year workload rating as Seagate IronWolf Pro drives, can work with up to 24 bays, and also come with a long-lasting five-year warranty.

Where things differ slightly are speed, price, and capacities. Starting things off with the 2TB Western Digital Red Pro that can hit speeds up to 164MB/s. It offers among the worst value here with this family of drives. Then there’s the mighty 22TB variant.

This monstrosity of a drive is capable of hitting speeds of 265MB/s, which isn’t as fast as Seagate, but you’re only paying $0.02 per GB of storage space, which is amazing value when you’re ditching a cloud subscription service and have a lot of data.

Western Digital Red Pro
Western Digital Red Pro. (Source: WD)

Western Digital Red Pro

Western Digital has a similar offering to Seagate in the form of the Red Pro range of hard drives. These NAS drives are perfect for those seeking to store lots of data.


3. Seagate IronWolf: Best budget NAS hard drive

Seagate IronWolf
Seagate IronWolf. (Source: Seagate)

Our thoughts: We’re big fans of Seagate storage and the IronWolf series offers impressive drives for use inside servers and NAS enclosures. Ranging between 1TB and 18TB, you can create everything from a small backup server to a media streaming platform.

Seagate IronWolf
Capacity1 – 18 TB
Max drive bays8
Motor speed5,900 – 7,200 RPM
Transfer rate180 – 240 MB/s
Workload180 TB/yr
Cache64 – 256 MB
$ per GB$0.03 – $0.06
Warranty3 years
  • Wide away of capacities
  • Great value
  • Affordable
  • Lower workloads
  • Bay limits
  • Slower speeds
DriveBaysSpeedWorkloadWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Seagate IronWolf 1TB8180 MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$60$0.06
Seagate IronWolf 2TB8180 MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$70$0.04
Seagate IronWolf 3TB8180 MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$95$0.03
Seagate IronWolf 4TB8180 MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$75$0.03
Seagate IronWolf 6TB8210 MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$130$0.03
Seagate IronWolf 8TB8210 MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$170$0.03
Seagate IronWolf 10TB8210 MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$200$0.03
Seagate IronWolf 12TB8210 MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$230$0.03
Seagate IronWolf 14TB8240 MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$246$0.02
Seagate IronWolf 16TB8240 MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$320$0.03
Seagate IronWolf 18TB8240 MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$390$0.02

The base Seagate IronWolf series of hard drives are available with capacities ranging between 1TB and 18TB. These are the hard drives you should buy over traditional consumer desktop drivers you’d typically use inside a PC.

they’re not quite as fast as Seagate IronWolf Pro drives, nor will you be able to use them in a configuration of more than eight drives, but they’ll be perfect for home and office use. A three-year warranty and 180TB per year workload rating shows just how capable these drives are.

The best part is the value with many of the capacity drives costing just $0.02 per GB.

Seagate IronWolf
Seagate IronWolf. (Source: Seagate)

Seagate IronWolf

The base NAS drive collection from Seagate. These may be the slowest and don’t offer the highest capacities, but you’re getting good value and decent specs for the price.


4. Western Digital Red Plus: Best value NAS hard drive

Western Digital Red Plus
Western Digital Red Plus. (Source: WD)

Our thoughts: Western Digital’s more affordable Red Plus family of NAS drives are great for those seeking more affordable storage mediums. They max out at 14TB, 210MB/s, and get as low as $0.02 per GB.

Western Digital Red Plus
Capacity1 – 14 TB
Max drive bays8
Motor speed5,400 – 7,200 RPM
Transfer rate150 – 210 MB/s
Workload180 TB/yr
Cache64 – 512 MB
$ per GB$0.02 – $0.05
Warranty3 years
  • Wide away of capacities
  • Affordable
  • Great value
  • Slower speeds
  • Bay limits
  • Lower workloads
DriveBaysSpeedWorkloadWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Western Digital Red Plus 1TB8150MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$50$0.05
Western Digital Red Plus 2TB8175MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$65$0.03
Western Digital Red Plus 3TB8175MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$70$0.03
Western Digital Red Plus 4TB8175MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$83$0.02
Western Digital Red Plus 6TB8185MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$120$0.02
Western Digital Red Plus 8TB8210MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$170$0.03
Western Digital Red Plus 10TB8215MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$210$0.02
Western Digital Red Plus 12TB8196MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$269$0.02
Western Digital Red Plus 14TB8210MB/s180 TB/yr3 years$283$0.02

The Western Digital Red Plus series of NAS drives are specially designed for server use. They’re better than the base Red range by using a better and more reliable way of storing data. This does mean they won’t be the absolute cheapest NAS drives from WD.

Speeds range between 150MB/s and 210MB/s. Capacities go up to 14TB. These are some decent specs, especially considering you can use up to eight of them inside a NAS. A warranty is available that will cover you for up to three years.

Western Digital Red Plus
Western Digital Red Plus. (Source: WD)

Western Digital Red Plus

Western Digital actually has three NAS drive families and our value favorite is the Red Plus, ranging between 1TB and 14TB. Good prices and speeds make these drives ideal for NAS servers.


5. Seagate Exos: Best enterprise NAS hard drive

Seagate Exos
Seagate Exos. (Source: Seagate)

Our thoughts: When you’re ready to take your storage to the next level, we’d recommend checking out Seagate’s Exos hard drives. You have the choice of up to 20TB in terms of capacity and what makes them better than the IronWolf series is the use of helium throughout the range.

Seagate Exos
Capacity1 – 20 TB
Max drive bays
Motor speed 7,200 RPM
Transfer rate194 – 285 MB/s
Workload550 TB/yr
Cache128 – 256 MB
$ per GB$0.02 – $0.08
Warranty5 years
  • Wide away of capacities
  • High workloads
  • Good warranties
  • Helium-filled
  • Loud and power-hungry
DriveBaysSpeedWorkloadWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Seagate Exos 7E2 1TB194MB/s550 TB/yr5 years$80$0.08
Seagate Exos 7E2 2TB194MB/s550 TB/yr5 years$145$0.07
Seagate Exos 7E8 4TB215MB/s550 TB/yr5 years$160$0.04
Seagate Exos 7E8 6TB226MB/s550 TB/yr5 years$155$0.03
Seagate Exos 7E8 8TB249MB/s550 TB/yr5 years$249$0.03
Seagate Exos X16 10TB249MB/s550 TB/yr5 years$175$0.03
Seagate Exos X16 12TB261MB/s550 TB/yr5 years$260$0.02
Seagate Exos X16 14TB261MB/s550 TB/yr5 years$245$0.02
Seagate Exos X16 16TB261MB/s550 TB/yr5 years$278$0.02
Seagate Exos X18 18TB270MB/s550 TB/yr5 years$322$0.02
Seagate Exos X20 20TB285MB/s550 TB/yr5 years$460$0.02

For those who want to move up from Pro NAS drives, Seagate’s Exos range of storage will be just what you’re looking for. Some Pro drives will make use of helium, but all Seagate Exos drives are filled with the gas, which improves overall performance and reliability.

Then there’s the warranty of five years and an improved workload rate of 550TB per year. Capacities aren’t too bad too with sizes going up to 20TB with a maximum speed of 285MB/s. You’d think these drives would be far costlier, but the price per GB is still as low as $0.02.

Seagate Exos
Seagate Exos. (Source: Exos)

Seagate Exos

Seagate Exos is the premium range of server drives designed for continuous use. They’re all filled with helium and can be used in NAS enclosures with more than 24 bays.


6. Seagate SkyHawk: Best surveillance NAS hard drive

Seagate SkyHawk
Seagate SkyHawk. (Source: Seagate)

Our thoughts: These drives are designed for use with surveillance systems. If you’re building your own security system or are using software on your NAS to record footage from cameras, Seagate SkyHawk drives will be the best choice.

Seagate SkyHawk
Capacity1 – 20 TB
Max drive bays
Motor speed 7,200 RPM
Transfer rate180 – 260 MB/s
Workload180 – 550 TB/yr
Cache128 – 256 MB
$ per GB$0.03 – $0.05
Warranty5 years
  • Wide away of capacities
  • Designed for heavy writes
  • Good warranties
  • Great value
  • Not great for general use
DriveBaysSpeedWorkloadWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Seagate SkyHawk 1TB180MB/s180 TB/yr5 years$53$0.05
Seagate SkyHawk 2TB180MB/s180 TB/yr5 years$70$0.04
Seagate SkyHawk 4TB180MB/s180 TB/yr5 years$98$0.02
Seagate SkyHawk 6TB180MB/s180 TB/yr5 years$150$0.02
Seagate SkyHawk 8TB210MB/s180 TB/yr5 years$170$0.02
Seagate SkyHawk AI 8TB245MB/s550 TB/yr5 years$218$0.02
Seagate SkyHawk AI 10TB245MB/s550 TB/yr5 years$274$0.03
Seagate SkyHawk AI 12TB250MB/s550 TB/yr5 years$300$0.03
Seagate SkyHawk AI 16TB250MB/s550 TB/yr5 years$410$0.03
Seagate SkyHawk AI 18TB260MB/s550 TB/yr5 years$480$0.03
Seagate SkyHawk AI 20TB260MB/s550 TB/yr5 years$529$0.03

You can use any drive for security footage recording but we’d recommend drives that are designed with such a use in mind like the Seagate SkyHawk. These drives are capable of handling heavier write workloads, such as taking footage from connected IP cameras.

They’re all backed by five-year warranties, have high workload ratings, and don’t cost as much as you may first assume. If you want to store more data, you’ll need to buy a SkyHawk AI drive and they go all the way up to 20TB.

Seagate SkyHawk

Seagate SkyHawk

Seagate’s SkyHawk drives are specially designed for surveillance systems. They’re brilliant for heavy write workloads such as recording footage and are backed by lengthy warranties.

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